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Wally Backman says that Sandy Alderson is blackballing him

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Wally Backman left the Mets organization in September after several years of service as their Triple-A manager. This year he’ll be managing in the Mexican League. He says that’s all he can do because he can’t find a job in baseball in the United States. He says that’s because Mets GM Sandy Alderson is blackballing him.

He tells his story to Bob Klapisch of NorthJersey.com, saying his job search has hit “a bad roadblock,” and that Alderson is the roadblock. “People are telling me, ‘Sandy has it in for you. You’re being blackballed,’” he tells Klapisch. Which people? Backman isn’t saying.

What baseball people say to one another on the phone isn’t something we’re privy to, but it’s also the case that Backman’s dismissal came because he was insubordinate. As Marc Carig reported back in September, Backman would not follow team orders with respect to playing time and playing context for prospects. Here’s Backman today, still not understanding that:

“I’ve talked to several teams, and every one of them has said, ‘You’re overqualified.’ How can you be overqualified when you’re trying to win? No one is overqualified unless there’s something else going on.”

Someone needs to tell Backman that “trying to win” is not the job description of a minor league manager in this day and age. In today’s game, minor league managers are expected to follow the organization’s orders with respect to player development, right down to where in the batting order a player is supposed to hit and whether he is to face right-handed or left-handed pitching. Backman, it was reported, ignored those orders because he wanted to win any given game at hand.

Old baseball men like Backman may not like the fact that a minor league manager’s job is not to manage to win each game as opposed to serve the club’s player development needs, but it’s a fact of life. Also a fact of life: if you do not do what your boss orders you to do, you’re going to get fired. A further fact of life: someone who was let go for not handling prospects the way an organization wanted them to is not going to be a desirable candidate for any other minor league job.

Is Sandy Alderson talking smack about Wally Backman to other organizations? I have no idea. But I do know that it would not take such a blackballing for Backman to be seen as an undesirable minor league manager in 2017.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.