Outstanding article today by Wayne Coffey of the Daily News. In the article he talks to Willie candidly about the past and the future and even provides some depth with comments from Willie’s wife Gretchen and his son Andre.
Here is how Willie weighed in on some of these important issues…
His Approach – "I’ve always been into fundamentals, discipline, playing the game right. Sometimes you get back on your heels a little bit with that. That is never going to happen for me again. There’s not going to be anything assumed, or taken for granted."
His Players - "I definitely gave them too much credit. I was looking for them to reveal to me that they were ready to be champions, but they showed me they weren’t ready. It’s a tough thing to look at in retrospect, but that’s the truth."
The Mental Lapses – "We had so many chances to put teams away and we didn’t do it. It’s fine to be aggressive. That’s what we’re about, but you have to be smart. You have to let the scoreboard dictate how you play."
The Collapse – "I’ve just been feeling out of it. It seems like I’m always thinking about it. When it finally hits you what happened, that we blew it, you start thinking about every game you played, start thinking about all those games you gave away. You don’t really second-guess yourself.. . . you just think about all those little things. It’s an empty, horrible feeling."
Willie has taken a ton of flack for how the season ended. Much has been made about his laid-back approach and his unwillingness to run out and argue every bad play. Maybe it was justified, but certainly not to the extent I’ve heard and read about.
Willie is the right man to lead this team. What happened last September left emotional scars on him and many of the players on the team. Together they will heal and get themselves back on track.
From everything I’ve seen and heard since the season ended, I have a strong sense that the Mets have learned a big lesson from the collapse. They say that sometimes you have to take one step back, before you can take two steps forward. If that’s true… Expect big things from the Mets in 2008. You Gotta Believe!