I don’t have anything against Terry Collins. He was asked to steer a rudderless ship for the past several seasons, knowing full well that he didn’t have a chance of winning and did the best with an inferior group of players. When he came on board prior to the 2011 season, he promised the fans that the team would play the game the right way.
Even though the results weren’t what we wanted, they were what we expected. We knew we weren’t competing with the big boys. We all knew we were going to be playing in the kiddie pool for a few seasons. But you know what, the team played hard for Terry. The 2013 team was fun to watch, even if they weren’t successful. They never gave up. They came to play for Terry.
The 2014 team doesn’t have the same feel. Maybe it’s that Matt Harvey isn’t here. Maybe it’s that we’re two seasons removed from R.A. Dickey. Maybe it’s because we’re now in the third season post-Jose Reyes. Maybe it’s because there isn’t the buzz of the All-Star Game and the rally around making David Wright the starting Third Baseman. This team is just dull. They seem lifeless.
I’m not putting the blame on Terry Collins. I like the man. I’m not one of the Terry haters that’s been calling him clueless and blaming him for the Mets struggles. Has he made some mistakes this season that he hasn’t in the past? He’s kept Dillon Gee in too long and cost him games. He kept Daisuke Matsuzaka in to get shelled when he should have pulled him several batters earlier. He’s stuck with Ruben Tejada over Wilmer Flores and he kept on putting Chris Young in the starting lineup when he had no business being there. Do I agree with his managerial decisions? No. Do I get frustrated during games like the rest of us? Of course. Do I think Terry has all of a sudden forgotten how to manage a baseball game? No. I think he’s just as frustrated as the rest of us and is trying too hard.
I do think it’s time for a change.
The team is on the way to their sixth straight losing season. I’m reminded of the psychotherapist in the movie “The Natural”. Losing is a disease and it’s become an infection. Terry’s message of playing hard and playing the right way has become that “Wah Wah” from the Charlie Brown teacher. The team needs a new voice.
When Terry Collins was ejected on June 11th for arguing the instant replay verdict, I couldn’t help but recall Ken Kaiser’s mention of Terry Collins in his 2003 autobiography “Planet of the Umps”, published by Thomas Dunne Books. According to Ken Kaiser:
“There are managers who want to be ejected because they just can’t bear to watch their team anymore. When Terry Collins was managing Anaheim, he came out one time and told me that he needed to be ejected. Needed to be.
I don’t like to do any favors for managers. A manager has to earn his ejection. I told him I wasn’t going to throw him out. “Come on, you gotta. This team is playing so badly I just got to get ejected. I got a second baseman who can’t catch the ball, I got a third baseman who can’t throw it, I got a cleanup hitter who can’t hit, I got a relief pitcher…:”
I started laughing.
That got him upset. He got up right in my face and warned me, “Don’t you laugh. Don’t you dare laugh. If you laugh they’re gonna know what I’m doing out here. I’m supposed to be out here chewing your ass…”
I did him a favor and kicked him out. But as he left, he was still muttering, “…coaches who can’t coach. Runners who can’t…”
Terry ran out against the Brewers knowing he was going to get tossed. Gary Cederstrom appeared to be laughing right before Terry was tossed. Terry said he knew he would be thrown out because you can’t argue a replay decision. Did he want to get tossed?
A change is needed. The man for the job is Wally Backman.
Wally will change the losing mentality. He has the winning pedigree with the Mets. He has the fire in his belly. He will get this team’s attention. Is the losing Terry’s fault? No. I think he’s done a very respectable job with what he’s had to work with. He’s been compensated well for his work. He’s under contract and will continue to be paid for the duration of it. But the time has come.
Bring in Wally.