Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 27, 2007
If you haven't already, you should definitely read Jeff Pearlman's profile of Wally Backman and his apparently doomed quest to get another shot at managing inthe big leagues. (I have had multiple people send me this link). Of course, for Mets fans Backman will always be remembered fondly for his role in the 1984-88 teams, but that won't help him get a managing job.
The really nasty thing in Backman's record that seems to be holding him back is this:
[H]e didn't tell the [Diamondbacks] about his Oct. 7, 2001, domestic violence arrest because, according to both Wally and Sandi, it was merely a heated marital moment overblown by police involvement. ("People think I'm a battered wife in denial," Sandi says. "That makes me laugh. The idea of Wally hitting me is comical.")
Now, we all know that ballplayers get away with things as bad as wife-beating (Brett Myers and Wil Cordero come to mind, as well as Elijah Dukes), but the simple fact is that proven or promising major league players are harder to replace than a manager who has yet to manage in the big leagues. And it's hard to sympathize with a guy who loses his job over beating his wife.
That said, the problem is this: it's entirely plausible that Backman and his wife are telling the truth - lots of married couples have arguments, and some of them end up making a lot of angry noise and breaking stuff and getting the cops called. It's more than possible that Backman is getting blackballed over basically nothing.
But it's also true, if you know anything at all about domestic violence, that battered wives very often brush things off and make these kinds of excuses after the fact, so facially plausible pleas of innocence can't be taken at face value. The frustrating thing is that you or I, from a distance, can't know. And neither can teams that might hire Backman. Which is why, guilty or not, when you put this together with a guy who has made trouble controlling his anger in other situations, Backman is going to be radioactive pretty much permanently.