This Wally Backman Thing Gets Weirder

Wally Backman is accusing Sandy Alderson of blackballing him in the baseball industry in another twist in the relationship between a favorite of Mets fans and his former team.

wally backman
Wally Backman says Sandy Alderson is “blackballing” him.

“There’s been a bad roadblock, and I know where it’s coming from,” Backman told Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record (or whatever it calls itself these days). “In the last phone call I had with Sandy (in September) he said, ‘I will do anything I can to help you.’ But he is not an honest man. People are telling me, ‘Sandy has it in for you. You’re being blackballed.'”

Alderson would not comment on Backman’s claims.

Alderson fired Backman last September amid accusations he did not follow orders regarding how to use Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Backman denies this, saying he did everything asked of him.

Wally Backman managed seven years in the Mets minor league system, including five years at Triple-A. Nobody could argue with his success — he won two PCL division titles and was named manager of the year in 2014.

“The only thing I can think of is that I have a strong personality and Sandy didn’t want someone like me working for him anymore, even though I’d always treated him with total respect,” Backman said. “But no one was more loyal to this organization than me. No one wanted those kids to succeed more than I did.”

Backman says several teams have told him he is “overqualified,” which puzzles him. “How can you be overqualified when you’re trying to win? No one is overqualified unless there’s something else going on.”

Indeed, there is something else going on with Backman. He was a rising star in the baseball world when he was hired to manage the Diamondbacks in November 2004. But then word leaked out about several legal issues involving Backman, including a DUI, a domestic violence incident and a bankruptcy filing. Four days later, the D-Backs cut ties with him. Backman was relegated to managing in the independent leagues  until the Mets took a chance on him in 2009.

So why can’t Wally Backman find a job? Certainly his transgressions are serious (although what does bankruptcy have to do with managing a baseball team?). But his problems have not been repeated, so why is he not forgiven? Plenty of other people have been given second chances in baseball.

It likely has more to do with how his personality would fit with today’s breed of general managers. Many of these younger, analytical-minded GMs want to run the entire show and feel the manager is just a tool to do their bidding. Backman is old school and would likely not take kindly to some kid dictating the batting order. Why do you think so many managers are being hired with little or no experience? They will do anything to get the job, even if it includes taking on-field orders from above.

Backman will manage in Mexico this season, but with his track record of developing young players, it would not be a shock to see him land another minor league job sometime soon. But as far as a major league managerial gig? Don’t expect that to happen, ever. The game has changed (and not necessarily for the better) and Wally Backman has not.

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