August 14, 2007
It wasn't a matter of if, but when South Georgia Peanuts manager Wally Backman would finally cross the line and lose his job. The time came last week. Backman stepped down after publicly questioning the integrity of the South Coast League's drug testing policy.
Backman is a former major leaguer with an incredible knowledge of the game of baseball. He put together clearly the most talented team in the league and earned the respect and support of his players. He also brought up legitimate questions about how the league conducts drug tests and about the quality of the umpiring. Unfortunately, those concerns were often overshadowed by Backman's behavior.
He had several tirades against umpires, threatened to quit weeks ago, and even launched a verbal attack against an opposing team's radio announcer on a post-game show. Backman was suspended for a total of 14 games. That lack of sportsmanship is bad for baseball and sets an inappropriate example for young people. South Georgia fans deserve better.
If the South Coast League is to succeed, its leaders need to address some of the problems Wally Backman railed against. But they also need to make sure South Georgia gets a manager who represents our team and our community well on and off the field.