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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.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).