He has always been a crowd favorite and Met fans remember that he scored the winning run in the pivotal Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS. So, If Jerry Manuel missteps, could Wally Backman be the Mets manager in waiting?
Jeff Wilpon made it abundantly clear that both Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel need to "step up their game" and for the most part, Omar's report card will not be written until his off-season moves could be fully evaluated. But Jerry Manuel could be a different story--if the Mets get off to a rocky start, he could be replaced and unless the Mets want to ante up for the high-priced Bobby Valentine, Backman could be the guy that would provide the type of fiery field manager many feel the team needs--and at a fraction of the price that Bobby V would cost.
The hiring of Wally Backman could put added pressure on the Met skipper to perform or else and if that is the case, expect Manuel to manage the team with a larger sense of urgency than he did in 2009. In addition, the health of players like Reyes and Beltran will be very important to the Mets embattled manager.
This much is crystal clear--April 2010 could be the most important month of the season for Jerry Manuel in terms of communicating to his players, and getting the most out of his team. And if the early 2010 Mets look similar to the 2009 team, the new manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones could be heading for the Van Wyck Expressway where he will enter stage left at the CitiField exit.
Great holiday gift idea - an autographed Wally Backman photograph: