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Thoughts on Rubin/Backman

By Mike Silva ~ November 3rd, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

Wally Backman continues to be the most controversial figure in the Mets great managerial search of 2010. Since his Arizona dismissal in 2004 there has been numerous articles written about his on and off the field antics, many of which portray the former Mets second baseman as an uneducated drunken wife beater. Earlier today I transcribed comments by Adam Rubin of ESPN NY on Steve Keane’s “Call to the Bullpen” podcast. Rubin alluded to off the field issues with Backman in an ESPN chat on Tuesday that created a firestorm amongst the fan base. He continued to be vague on his comments with Keane, leading to increased speculation today. For as much harmony there was on the selection of Sandy Alderson as General Manager, there is as much dissension amongst the fans when it comes to who should manage the team.

Mark Healey of Gotham Baseball Magazine responded to Rubin’s claim today by saying this:

“Adam Rubin made some vague comments about Wally Backman’s candidacy during a live chat that, in my opinion, displayed extremely poor judgment.  If Rubin has something to report, then report it.  If not, his commentary is not only unprofessional, but completely unacceptable for a journalist of his stature… People at the highest levels of the team have been talking to Backman nearly every day since the end of the season to keep him abreast of what’s going on and assuring him that he is a leading candidate for the job… Whatever Rubin’s motivation here, he has messed with a man’s reputation, a man who is doing everything he can to make a living the best way he knows how.”

Healey went on to speculate the information given to Rubin could be through disgruntled members of the scouting department that are on the way out. It’s a fair assumption since there was plenty of gossip throughout the Minaya regime. I can’t complain since this site benefited from some of the said leaks.

First, I want to say that I respect Adam Rubin immensely as a journalist. He was one of the first guests to appear on my radio show, and for a while, one the only Mets beat reporters that interacted with independent media. Rubin is as hardworking as they come (this isn’t a slight to anyone else), and I have personally seen him doing work at local minor league ballparks on his days off. I have no reason to question his credibility, but as Healey points out, his sources may have their own agenda. The fact of the matter is we do not know and all we can do is trust Rubin based on his track record. That’s the reason I believe there is trepidation amongst the Mets brain trust in hiring Backman. What I do question is why there is such a lukewarm reaction to Backman in the New York media.

Since the miserable July West Coast trip there has been plenty of speculation that Backman would be Jerry Manuel’s heir apparent. Much of the mainstream media has been lukewarm on a Backman regime, often citing his off the field transgressions as reasons for their skepticism. I continue to point out how Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox are two examples of managers that had similar off the field issues as Backman, but never had it hurt the reputation of their employer. As a matter of fact, Cox was honored last month by the Mets organization for his work before the Braves final visit to Citi Field.

I am not saying there is an “anti Backman” agenda in the media because, quite simply, I have no proof of that. I do suspect some beat writers might prefer someone behind the desk that makes their job easier versus the best candidate. This was never more apparent than their relationship with Jerry Manuel. Very rarely was his convoluted logic challenged, and often, they made his post game press conferences into a proverbial kumbaya session.

I realize the beat reporters have to toe the line and manage a relationship. They have to face members of that clubhouse every day, individuals Healey and I don’t, but it’s their responsibility to provide fair and balanced reporting. Jerry Manuel would often get a pass because he smiled, cracked jokes, and was extremely accommodating. Amazing how that changed when he was fired in early October. Omar Minaya spoke to the press after his dismissal, but we have yet to hear from Manuel since the last Sunday of the season. In the end, Manuel didn’t have the decency to address the people that gave him the benefit of the doubt throughout the season. A benefit of the doubt, mind you, that he didn’t deserve. Ask Davey Johnson, Jeff Torborg, and Bobby Valentine if they were given the same passes that Manuel enjoyed during his tenure?

The bottom line is that I believe Sandy Alderson is smart enough to see through all this. I also believe Mets ownership has given him the autonomy to make the choice on who should be the manager. After all, as Healey points out, there is a behavioral clause in his contract. This isn’t an assumption, its fact. Hopefully the Mets do their own homework, and don’t allow the personal preferences of journalists and bloggers to scare them away from someone, who I believe, is the best choice to manage the New York Mets.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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2 Responses to Thoughts on Rubin/Backman

  1. TT

    U sure Rubin doesn’t want the manager job now??

  2. Stu B

    Rubin’s comments sounded like a politician trying to play down a scandal.

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