I’ve gotta say that this managerial search had the feel of an election. Elements of the fan base passionately stating their case for the candidates that they back, which turned out to be Wally Backman, and Not Wally Backman.
The Wally Backman camp was stronger and louder than the Not Wally Backman camp, and if this in fact did come down to a general election, It would have been Wally in a landslide. But the Mets are a dictatorship, and Not Wally Backman was put in charge of the troops, whoever they may be. But I get the feeling that if the fans had an opportunity for an overthrow or a coup, they’d try it. Instead of a news conference on Tuesday, Terry Collins should probably give a victory speech where he tries to end the partisanship among Mets fans, encouraging all of us to work together and end the infighting between the Bunting Party and the Fire and Grit Coalition. We need to finally come together as one nation under Sandy, indivisible. With liberty, justice, and Mama’s of Corona for all.
“We are not enemies, but friends … though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” -Abraham Lincoln
Maybe the 24-hour news coverage that has drifted towards the left and right has influenced us too much. I don’t belong to any one particular managerial party. Never did. Backman, fine. Bob Melvin? Okay. Terry Collins? All right. The big questions lie in what the roster is going to look like anyway. But Mets fans seemed to have gone extremely toward one side or the other … too extreme. Think about this: people were going to stop buying tickets if Bob Melvin was hired. Now the Mets are a franchise that has had two major collapses, a minor league director who challenged one of his affiliates to a fight, a GM who accused a reporter of lobbying for a job during a televised news conference, a closer who punched out his father in the family room of Citi Field after a game, and a medical staff so clueless that their center fielder made a choice on his own to have major surgery.
But hiring Bob Melvin was the last straw? Even after all that? That’s how strongly people felt about the manager choice.
The Pro-Backman people? I understand. Seriously, I do.
Think about it. That umpire Backman is giving it to is every person you’ve ever worked with or had to deal with who never had the guts to be honest with you or talk to you about an issue in person. I’m sure you’ve wanted to knock people on their ass because they wouldn’t solve a problem man-to-man (or man-to-woman or any combination there of), instead choosing to put it in a report. We wish we could call them a f***ing pip-squeak like Wally did. We go into the work force with a little Wally Backman inside all of us … yet only Wally himself can get away with it. (Trust me, I once threw wiffle bats down the hallway … it was not received well.) We love Wally because he stands up to authority as many of us wish we could.
All right, maybe it’s just me. I’m sure many of you don’t have deep rooted psychological problems such as myself. I’m sure most of you just like his “fiery personality” without any deeper issues. Well, Terry Collins has that fiery personality too. The only differences between Terry Collins and Wally Backman are experience and age. Oh, and Collins wasn’t a New York Met in 1986.
The way I see it, ultimately, is that if you support Wally Backman … really support him … you should be thrilled he didn’t get this job. At least not now. This team with its bloated contracts and its flawed structure has no realistic shot at winning in 2011. 2012 is the earliest this team will make noise, with 2013 being a little more realistic. By the time that season comes, Backman will have more experience, and most likely the roster that Sandy Alderson puts together will have had enough of Collins. Who knows, Collins may have had enough of them. But by the time Backman is ready to take this gig, there will be more structure, a better roster, more payroll flexibility … in other words, Backman will have a realistic chance to succeed, especially if he manages some of the younger prospects from Brooklyn all the way to the top such as Cory Vaughn, Darrell Ceciliani, and Yohan Almonte. Hiring Backman now would be putting him in a position to fail, and maybe fail miserably.
Collins? The fact that Sandy Alderson hired him makes him the right fit for the job right now. If Sandy likes him, then who am I to have complaints? (At least until Opening Day.) Do I have unrealistic expectations of what Collins brings to the team? No. But he did lead China to a win in the World Baseball Classic. That’s like getting Jeff Francoeur to lay off a pitch by his eyes … close to impossible. But Collins did it, so I’m more than willing to give him the benefit of my plentiful doubts, especially since there will be plenty of time to complain about him (I’m good at that.) Luckily, Steve Phillips isn’t around to reunite Collins with Mo Vaughn. (Editor’s note: The Jim Edmonds storyline in that last link reads awfully familiar.)
I’m a firm believer that you never stop learning in life. I believe it’s possible for Collins at the age of 61 to have learned some things in his 50′s. If that’s the case, then the two or three year bridge to the next manager might not be so painful. If not? Well then there may have to be another rally to restore sanity in our future, because we’ll need it.