The Commish Online www.thecommishonline.com
D-Backs Backtrack in Backman Hypocrisy
November 5, 2004
Butchering their search for a new manager, the Arizona Diamondbacks first hired then fired Wally Backman in a span of four days, claiming they weren't aware of his "off the field" problems, even though HE ALREADY HAD A JOB IN THE ORGANIZATION LAST YEAR.
The real issue that hasn't been raised is Arizona's hypocrisy in the situation. Backman managed Arizona's Class A Lancaster team last year, and has coached in the minor leagues for different clubs the past eight years. Major leaguers are more seasoned, a little older, and are less impressionable than young minor leaguers, many straight out of high school or from a foreign country. Isn't it more important to factor in a manager's values when he is in charge of impressionable minor leaguers (young men a club anticipates seeing in the majors some day) than when he is in charge of major leaguers who can already think for themselves and possess a bit more independence?
It's not a knock on minor league players, but the fact is many of them (especially at the Class A level) went to the prom less than a year ago while others may be in the country for the first time and are trying to get by in a world where English is their second language. A club is willing to put a guy with a history of DUI's, tax problems, and spousal abuse in charge of these impressionable youths without even a background check, but the SAME GUY is denied a major league job with the SAME CLUB when the focus is more on baseball and winning than on maturing these kids into respectable athletes?
Not being naive, I understand that money is a motivating factor, so the Diamondbacks weren't willing to let a person with Backman's background be in charge of the "big" club since the organization's money train empties out at "the B.O.B." The hypocrisy exists in that Arizona's actions are opposite of what should be good for club. Backman was a good enough "person" for the youngsters, but not for the big boys? The best baseball man should be in the major league dugout, while those best suited for development should be instructing the kids. Sometimes a person possesses both qualities, but having values good enough for the minors but unacceptable for the majors adds up about as well the the Diamondbacks chances in '05. Bob Melvin has been hired to replace Backman for the upcoming season. Assuming his criminal background check is clear, Melvin will have a tough task ahead of him as he tries to straighten out the franchise. As for Backman, I don't condone his past, but let's hope his next job is based on all factors BEFORE he is hired.