When the Mets celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1986 World Series victory, chances are some of the loudest cheers will be for Wally Backman. It will be both a thank you from the fans for being part of the franchise’s last great success and perhaps a message to the management that bypassed him for the no longer vacant manager’s chair.
The hiring of Terry Collins continues baseball program of establishment hires, retreads and largely safe choices. Hiring Backman would have bucked that trend, perhaps earmarked Alderson as a person willing to go against the grain of the usual candidates that find their way into these jobs.
To be sure, Collins will not have the bland label of an Art Howe or mild mannered Bob Melvin, but Backman would have brought a fresh dimension to a team he essentially captained (much more so than Keith Hernandez) during that stretch in the 80s. Backman took on Darryl Strawberry; think of how he would have handled some of the dead wood in this clubhouse.
Backman always spoke his mind as a player, imagine what he would have done as a manager. Perhaps the Mets and Alderson were fearful of that negative headline potential, even if it would have sold some tickets. Looks like the Yankees will remain the back page boys.
The Mets are in rebuilding mode and not only on the playing field. They need to prove that there will be interest along the way as they reshape the roster. Alderson interviewed everyone in sight, but it appears Collins was the choice right from the beginning.
If the Mets really wanted to sell change to the fans, Backman would have the job.