Loyalty and The Hindsight Blues

terry collins mets last game in 2014

As one of Terry Collins’ most ardent supporters, I’m having a slight case of the “hindsight blues” today.

Let me first start by saying, I think Terry Collins is a good manager for this team.

You’ve heard it said before, and you’ll likely hear it again – “Baseball Managers don’t matter all that much.”

It’s a statement spoken by fans who subscribe to a more sabermetric philosophy than an old school way of thinking.

To me, a baseball manager is 90% clubhouse, 10% in-game management. An old school fan would likely argue that how a manager handles lineups, or the ever popular “bullpen management,” is what makes a good or bad manager.

A sabermetric view point might argue that players play, and the manager is merely a middle manager caliber staff person between the General Manager and players.

To me, you can break down every single decision a manager makes that fails and use it against them – but you’ll have a tough time finding people point to positive decisions that helped the team win.

A baseball manager is a fan’s ultimate second guess outlet. A risky decision that works could go unheralded but a risky decision that doesn’t work, can lead to cries of dismissal.

For me, I want the players to want to play for the manager. You have 25 players in a locker room who have likely been told their whole life they are the greatest – it takes the right person to not only massage that ego, but also keep their heads on straight.

If you ask me who the best manager in baseball is, it’s Joe Maddon. He gets every ounce of talent out of his players no matter the cards he is dealt. He handles the media, and tough situations very well and when he makes a risky decision that doesn’t pay off, he holds himself accountable but rarely ever regrets the decision he made.

I was in favor of Collins getting an extension because I didn’t see where the Mets could do better right now. To the fans who want Wally Backman, you have no idea how the veterans on this team would mix with his managerial style. He’d be fun to watch, but we’d be watching a big organizational risk that frankly, isn’t worth taking.

Dusty - Baker

This morning, I got burned by loyalty. The Cincinnati Reds announced that Dusty Baker would not return as manager in 2014.

Baker to me is a fascinating manager. He is the guy that no matter how much good he does, the fans of his team always seem to focus on the negative.

After the Reds lost, many Reds fans and media once against pointed to the fact they were “on the wrong side of history again.”

The first instance was when Roy Halladay no-hit them in 2010, which frankly is totally unfair to use against Baker because nobody was hitting Halladay that day.

The second instance was last year when they dropped three straight at home to the Giants after winning the first two on the road. A fair knock if you ask me.

The third was just a few nights ago when the Reds lost in Pittsburgh, becoming the first playoff team to ever NOT host a playoff game.

So yes, in the long storied history of the wildcard game (2012-Present) the Reds set the bar for failure. A bit of a stretch if you ask me.

Dusty Baker has been managing for 20 years, and in those 20 years his win percentage is OVER 52%. Baker’s teams have won at least 85 games, 12 times in his 20 years – the most by any active manager.

Yet, his critics point toward his playoff record as reason to dismiss him as a very good manager.

I value the World Series more than anything else, but I also recognize that it is harder to win 1,671 games in 3,176 tries than it is to win a best of five series. Luck can find its way to determine the winner in a best of five series (or seven), but luck doesn’t make you a winner 52% of the time in over 3,000 tries.

This is why I say things like the Braves from 1996-2012 are more impressive than the Marlins during the same time. Of course the Braves would like those 2 rings the Marlins got during that time – but recognizing just how difficult it is to win 57% of your games over 17 years is something I think fans underestimate drastically.

To me, Dusty Baker is one of the best managers in the game without a doubt. He has won three “Manager of the Year” awards, and also has three 2nd place finishes. Since the award’s creation in 1983, only Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa have more while Jim Leyland and Lou Pinella both have three wins as well.

So while I am happy the Mets showed Collins the loyalty he likely deserved to see this project through, I am now wondering what it would have been like to scoop up the most under appreciated manager in the sport by hiring Dusty Baker.

About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.