During this three game series with the Miami Marlins, Terry Collins yet again showed everyone why he is a good human being and a leader of men. The Mets were in a terrible spot after the Jose Fernandez death. The team had to get up for the three game set while also showing proper reverence to a team that lost a teammate and a friend.
The task was more complicated by the fact that players like Yoenis Cespedes were personally affected by the death. Travis d’Arnaud admitted to crying on the field. As Bob Klapisch of Newsday would report, one Mets official said, “We felt sorry for them. We felt guilty trying to beat them.”
With that backdrop, Collins struck the proper tone with his team helping guide them to a series victory over the Marlins while reducing the Mets magic number to clinch a Wild Card spot to two. Collins and the Mets did more than that.
Before the first game of the series, the Mets players went out and embraced the devastated Marlins players. They shared in the pain and comforted the opposition to let them know the loss of a life was bigger than this rivalry. As Dee Gordon would say after the game, “I want to say ‘thank you’ to the Mets – they are first class. Coming in and showing their gratitude to us, being there for us in a time of need. That was just amazing.”
It didn’t stop there. Several of the Mets players made sure they attended Fernandez’s mass service before Wednesday’s game. Collins would say:
“I thought it was important to be there to honor Jose. I think it was important to have our people out there, we had several guys out there today. You know this is a very large fraternity. It’s an exclusive fraternity, it’s hard to get in, when you lose somebody I just think you need the representation of everybody else. We were represented very well today. I was very proud.” (NY Daily News)
The Mets should feel good with how they comported themselves in the wake of Fernandez’s death. They all signed the Fernandez Mets jersey they had and gave it as a gift to the Marlins players and organization. In an important three game set, they did nothing to show up an emotionally battered and already defeated opponent. Finally, after the series was over, the Mets team, lead by Collins, made sure to embrace the Marlins one last time.
We all, myself especially, get on Collins for his deficiencies as a manager. He probably costs his team more games than not with the in-game decisions he makes. However, that is only a part of who a manager is. A manager is someone who has to deal with 25 (now 39) guys in a clubhouse. He has to keep them on an even keel during the highest of highs and during this week which was the lowest of lows.
As we saw last season, baseball is at its most fun when you not only have a team that wins, but also when you have a group of players that you’re emotionally invested in. It’s better when you get to root for a team that you genuinely like. As the manager of the Mets, Collins has created a culture in that clubhouse that does both.
This isn’t the first time we have seen this with Collins. There was him hand-writing a letter to a grieving family, or his gathering the team during Spring Training workouts to take a picture with a child who just had heart transplant surgery. At his core, Collins is a good man, who has done a fine job representing this organization. While we sometime lose that when he makes head-scratching decisions, we are again reminded of that again this past week as he showed himself to be a leader and a good human being.