The first-year Independent South Coast League is a long way from the senior circuit. It was supposed to be Wally Backman's first step back to managing in the big leagues, but his quest ended too soon. Backman resigned Tuesday as manager of the Albany, Georgia based South Georgia Peanuts despite having lead the Peanuts to the first-half title as well as having his squad in first place through the first 23 games of the second half.
Backman's tenure with the Peanuts was brief, but it certainly wasn't without incident. Let's take a look at the highlights:
- Backman had the honor of meriting the first ever SCL suspension on June 12th after he bumped an umpire several times. It was a three-game suspension, and Backman launched the missive that the SCL's umpiring was "a disgrace to professional baseball."
- Backman was suspended for three games for his conduct during and after a June 26th game against the Anderson Joes. Backman was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, and then hurled 22 bats onto the infield grass and emptied a bucket of balls along the third base line. After the game Backman thought it would be prudent to head up to the press box, and air his grievances with Joes announcer Mike Janela, who had referred to Backman's behavior as a "childish outburst." Backman told him where he could stick his microphone (and perhaps some other unprintable words) and also had words for the Joes GM, who tried to break up the melee.
- July 20th's game netted Backman an eight-game suspension. Having already been ejected earlier in the game against the Macon Music, Backman's squad got into a bench-clearing brawl. And after the fight was over, the Peanuts just took off. They forfeited rather than play on. While Backman had been ejected five innings prior to the fight, he still took the suspension nonetheless.
- Two Peanuts players, Joey Hooft and Doc Brooks were suspended on Monday for violation the SCL's drug policy. Two additional players were suspended for diluted samples. Perhaps not coincidentally Brooks was leading his team in HR, RBI, and batting average. He was also the league leader in RBI, and second in batting average. Backman criticized the way the league conducted the test, and challenged the credibility of the league's medical director.
It took less than a week for Backman to wear out his welcome with the Diamondbacks, and only a forgiving (and fledgling) league like the SCL could have put up with him as long as they did. And to his credit Backman went down feisty as always:
“Things on the field, I can’t say I will ever apologize for them,” Backman said during a news conference, according to the Albany Herald. “That’s always been my nature. I have some regrets. I don’t know that I need to go into those.”Maybe he's right. But if the Southern Georgia Peanuts were a long way from the big leagues, where he's at now is only further away. And it's too bad.