That’s what Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record are reporting. And good for Backman, because it would seem that wowing ’em in person is the only shot he has, what with his extraordinarily thin resume for the job.
No, I’m not one of the Backman haters. I like a manager who’s fun. Who has a little color. Who has a history with the team. I even like the fact that he apparently has skeletons in his closet that are so shocking that Adam Rubin can’t dare divulge them lest we all grow lightheaded and require a fainting couch. That kind of stuff makes baseball interesting, and I want the Mets to be interesting because there’s noting sadder than boring baseball in New York. But the thing about that: I also have no vested interest in the Mets winning ballgames, and I don’t see how Backman is the best choice to accomplish that goal.
He has never coached or managed in the big leagues. He has never coached or managed at AAA. He hasn’t even been in AA ball for the better part of a decade. While some point to his success managing the Brooklyn Cyclones, that’s the New York-Penn League for cryin’ out loud. Entry level for anyone, but apparently not Backman, according to his supporters. Why? Because he played for the Mets. Goody, so did Kevin McReynolds, and I don’t see him on anyone’s short list. Because he had a big outburst caught on tape. Great, so did this guy.
Against that backdrop is the Mets new front office, full of guys who never ever valued “fire” in their managers. To the contrary, Alderson, Ricciardi and DePodesta are executives who — it has been painstakingly documented — prefer a manager whose primary skill is his ability to dutifully carry out the front office’s vision. A guy who doesn’t rock the boat. Who does not not believe that he and he alone has the secret to winning ballgames stored in his mustache or spleen. Oh, and they don’t much care for small-ball, one-run strategies either, and there’s at least some evidence that Backman digs those sorts of things.
I can’t feature the new Mets regime seriously considering Backman, and I won’t believe he is being seriously considered unless and until he is actually given the job. My guess: this is kabuki theater being put on by the team in order to make it appear that they are actually taking a hard look at the man who, inexplicably, has become the darling of the talk radio wing of the Mets fan base. So that no one can later say that their first decision after taking over the team was an ill-considered one. Indeed, I bet the “we agonized over this decision” statement naming someone other than Backman as new manager has already been written.