Former Mets 2B Wally Backman (above,
right middle) has experienced a tumultuous season managing the independent South Georgia Peanuts. Though the ‘Nuts have led the league, Wally’s been suspended no fewer than 3 times, the latest blowup over disputed drug tests (his players’, that is) causing Backman to walk out on the club earlier this week.
A few days later, Backman’s returned, and the Anderson Independent Mail’s Scott Anderson couldn’t be more thrilled, writing “I can’t remember a first year minor baseball league ever generating as much press as the SCL.”
Here in Anderson (during a sparsely-attended day game in which a player™s thoughts were audible), Backman™s barrage of F-bombs and postgame confrontation with front office personnel became Cause Celeb. I was contacted by New York media to get a first-hand account of the incident and even chastised by Wally apologists (Wallygists?) for reporting what happened.
Yet, this league is hardly a one-trick pony.
It had (and still has) Cecil Fielder, who started out as a roving hitting instructor and wound up as manager of the Charlotte County Redfish.
And here in Anderson we have Desi Wilson, who saw time in the Show with the San Francisco Giants (and had Big Head Barry as a teammate). He was a standout player in indys, and when the Joes couldn™t get over the hump, he deactivated himself as manager, activated himself as a player and became one of the team™s most reliable hitters.
Pitching coach Dallas Mahan followed suit, and suddenly the league designed for twentysomethings had a couple of players driving 40 in the fast lane.
I don’t wanna tell the fledgling league how to do things, but assuming they’re pleased with the amount of coverage Backman has generated, perhaps they’ll consider Kevin Mitchell as a player-coach in 2008?