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.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.