I rarely read Newsday; I think you all can guess why. However, this Saturday, a picture and headline on the upper right hand corner of the backpage caught my eye; it read "Backman Making His Case". Since I know there are quite a few "out of market" AA'ers, I thought I'd bring the article to the community's attention.
The two-page article, by Ken Davidoff, spends a good deal of space recalling Backman's past transgressions and explaining how he has put them behind him. That's great, but that's not what I found especially interesting - and that's not what I'm going to elaborate on. What jumped out at me was the emboldened "Likes the bunt" lead-in on the second page. We've heard the stories of Backman having his number five batter drop one down; this was his chance to clear the air and give his side of the story so to speak. What followed was both confusing and odd.
The subsection first outlines Backman's awareness of Billy Beane and his book, Moneyball, and how the general feeling about the bunt has changed over the last few years. This sounds like cause for celebration, but Backman is quick to put that thought to bed. Backman acknowledges the precious nature of outs but declares that you "absolutely" have to bunt in order to wins games. So close, yet so far, Wally!
Backman goes on to describe himself as a "stat rat" and shows the reporter that he always writes each players batting average against both LHP and RHP on every lineup card. Now, this is a presumable step up from Joe Manager, but I ask you: A "stat rat" who stops at batting average? Absurd. Any self respecting stat nerd looks not just at batting average, but at the whole slash-line and often further. Could it be because of limited space on a lineup card? It's possible, but not likely, as he could just request bigger lineup cards with more space in the margins or make a cheat-sheet if he wanted to.
All in all, Backman seems like a definite step-up from Manuel. How much of a step-up however, is very much up for debate.