A few weeks back, during a live chat, I believe it was whynot who asked something to the effect of, "Forget about the fire and grit, how would Wally Backman actually manage a major-league game?" That motivated me to go to Brooklyn and speak to Backman for this feature. I couldn't ignore the bigger-picture story of Backman's redemption, but if you read the above link, you'll see we did talk about a good amount of his baseball philosophies.

So thanks to whynot for proposing the idea. One of my favorite parts of this blog has been getting free story ideas. Keep 'em coming.

--Jenrry Mejia lost, but offered encouraging signs, in his first big-league start.

--Off the Yankees game,  I wrote about Javier Vazuez and Andy Pettitte, and how the former's struggles somewhat neutralized the latter's progress. In one way, the general fretting in the yakosphere (copyright Neil Best) strikes me as ridiculous, and I even thought of it while reading this story from The Onion

In another way, however, I totally get it. Considering how much more money the Yankees spend than other teams, they should have fewer roster headaches.

It was a good day for both Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

--Great story by Anthony Rieber about Phil Hughes and his major-league educators. Given his relatively smooth transition from relief to starting this year, and his willingness to learn, there's reason to think that Hughes can keep getting better.

--Joel Sherman has a nice look at what's ahead for the Core Four. I've established a tradition of predicting top free-agent contracts on the first day of open free agency, but we're going to have to make an exception for Derek Jeter. The moment the Yankees' postseason concludes, whether with the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, we're going to have to throw out a prediction on the deal that will keep the Yankees together.

--My Sunday Insider features items on three hot names for general manager openings this winter; Marlins interim manager Edwin Rodriguez; and Yankees vice president Felix Lopez. If you read this story, you'll understand why there are rumblings that Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik is in trouble, too.

--Interesting item from Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post: Today marks Bobby Cox's final game in Miami as a big-league manager (yes, yes, unless Cox pulls a Brett Favre, which is highly doubtful), and the Marlins have no plans to honor Cox., who ripped Florida for firing manager Fredi Gonzalez earlier this season.

It is totally consistent with Florida's management to get all petty over something like this, so we'll see if the Marlins deliver at the last minute. The irony, of course, is that by firing Gonzalez, Florida allowed the Braves to go with their top chioce as Cox's successor next season in Gonzalez.

Without Twitter, BTW, I never would've found this story. I probably wouldn't have found my way to Brooklyn to meet with Backman, for that matter.

--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on "Sports Extra" at 10:30 tonight on Fox 5 in New York, with Duke Castiglione.

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