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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.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.