Wally Backman still thinks he was the right choice for Mets manager

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Last I left you guys last Saturday evening, the Mets were still without a manager. That all changed on Sunday night, when it was reported that Terry Collins was hired as the club’s new manager. Still, five days later, Wally Backman tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that he can’t believe he didn’t get the job.

“I really thought I won them over,” Backman said by phone Friday from his home in Oregon. “I came out of each interview thinking it had gone better than the one with the Diamondbacks when I got the job there (in 2004).

“I knew what was being said (in the media), that the other guys were the favorites, but I kept looking at it, thinking I could make them see that I was the best guy for the job. I guess I didn’t convince them.”

I wouldn’t expect much less from Backman, or any other managerial candidate, for that matter. What is he supposed to say? “Yeah, Terry Collins was obviously a better candidate than me. I was just happy to be considered.”

The interesting part, though, is that Backman downplays all the talk about previous managerial experience.

“I didn’t think experience should have been a factor,” Backman said. “Managing a game is managing a game, and I don’t think it’s different dealing with players whether it’s the majors or the minors.”
Well, the Mets ended up hiring Collins, someone who hasn’t managed in the major leagues since 1999. That’s a concern, but at least he has been there before. To equate managing a group of kids in A-ball to a major league team full of multi-million dollar athletes is pretty silly, frankly. While I don’t doubt that experience was a factor, the primary goal of Sandy Alderson was to settle on someone that can bring some stability to the clubhouse while he puts his plan in place. Will Collins be that guy? Hard to say. One thing I do know is that if he fails, we’re going to have this debate all over again.

Two great Mariano Rivera stories

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In addition to getting unanimous support from Hall of Fame voters, Mariano Rivera’s election is getting universal praise from fans and the baseball community. I mean, at least it seems so. If you see someone out there in the wild really mad that Rivera was elected, please, let me know. But don’t approach such people. They’re probably dangerously imbalanced and might cause harm to you.

From what we’ve seen, anyway, there is no one who doesn’t love Rivera and his election. That love has come out in the form of anecdotes people are sharing this morning. I’ve seen two that made me particularly happy. One “ha ha” happy, the other “aww” happy.

The “ha ha” comes from Michael Young, who shared the ballot with Rivera this year and whose Rangers actually beat Rivera’s Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. Not that they had much success against Mo:

Now the “aww.” It comes from Danny Burawa, who had a few major league cups of coffee after coming up in the Yankees system. From his Instagram last night:

In 2012, in the middle of my first big league spring training, I tore my oblique during a game (I wound up missing the whole season). First cuts hadn’t been made and the Yankees let me stick around to rehab with the big leaguers for a few days. The next day, after finishing my rehab, I returned to the locker room which was totally empty. I’m sitting at my locker getting ready to go home when in walks Mariano Rivera. Considering I was a nobody A-baller, I kept my eyes down on my feet and minded my own business. Next thing I know, he’s in the chair next to me, telling me his story, about failing as a starter, about an injury he had when he was younger, about how the setbacks we think are fatal usually end up as speed bumps on a longer, grander road. This is the greatest of all time, taking the time to cheer up a nobody, for no other reason than he thought it was the right thing to do. Great pitcher, greater human, congratulations Mo!

People use that “great player, better person” construction a lot. I often roll my eyes when I hear it because it’s pretty subjective and, I suspect, the “better person” part can’t be vouched for outside the subject’s friend or peer group. Doesn’t sound that way with Rivera, though. He simply sounds like a prince of a guy.