Before heading to the airport tonight to get to Raleigh for tomorrow's Sabres game, I'm taking a detour to the Bisons' clubhouse for a 2 p.m. press conference. It's a big announcement that will make official what we reported the first week of October: Former New York Mets second baseman Wally Backman (right) will be introduced as the Bisons' manager for 2012.
Backman, who led Double-A Binghamton last year, reportedly turned down a chance to serve as a coach under Davey Johnson in Washington so that he could manage in Triple-A. Johnson apparently advised him to do so.
Backman shared the second base platoon with Tim Teufel for Johnson's '86 World Series champion Mets and now takes over the Herd from Teufel, who will be Terry Collins' third-base coach in New York next season.
Backman has had a long road back to get this point. He was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for four days in 2004 until he was fired when reports surfaced of a DUI, an old battery charge and financial difficulties. He took two years off, started in independent ball in 2007 in Albany, Ga. and has worked his way back up with the Mets from Class A Brooklyn to Binghamton and Buffalo.
Lots of folks in New York will be watching Backman closely this season. Large segments of the fan base want him to be Collins' heir apparent. By all reports, Backman is a funny, irascible character who should liven things up around Coca-Cola Field.
Don't believe me? Go on YouTube and look up "Playing for Peanuts". It's a documentary that was filmed in '07 when Backman managed the South Georgia Peanuts and some of his rants are hysterical. Too much profanity to link here though. Google and YouTube it. Trust me.
AP Photo: Backman greets fans in 2008 on the final day at Shea Stadium.