“In a league of Joe Maddon, Clint Hurdle, Mike Matheny and Don Mattingly, who’ve won their games and will get their Manager of the Year votes, nobody’s done more and put up with more and bled more freely than Collins. For a summer, he’s been the best of any of them.”
Collins told reporters that he is honored by all the Manager of the Year talk.
“I will tell you, it’s always nice to get an award,” Collins said. “It always is. But those kinds of things, it’s all about the players, believe me. I’ve talked to a lot of great managers in the game that have won this award hundreds and hundreds of times, and I will tell you what: very few of them have ever said, ‘Boy, I managed my butt off.’ They put the right names in the lineups is what they’ve done, and let them go play.”
Collins has waited a career to manage a team in the position of his current Mets. It’s too bad he can’t enjoy it. For Collins guiding the Mets to a Division title must seem like one of those pop-up games where you yield a hammer and try to hit objects scattered before you. Every time you connect with one object, another one pops up somewhere on the board.
With every game taking on monumental proportions for Collins and his Mets, managing the young Met pitching staff has to be just about driving Collins to insanity. Terry Collins has been around the barn. He’s seen and worked with all kinds of baseball pitchers including workhorse pitchers, anchors of a pitching staff, top pitching prospects, etc.
Collins knows at heart that’s what he has in his Met ace Matt Harvey. “I want you to understand something,” Collins told the press after Sunday’s Yankee game. “This kid is still a tremendous competitor. Tremendous. Regardless of what he’s been told to say, what he’s been told to do, he’s a tremendous competitor.”
But, in a day and age of blown out arms, pitch counts and innings limits, the world continually shifts beneath the Met manager’s feet. That was on full display Sunday night in front of a national baseball audience when Harvey threw five dominating innings with the Mets nursing a 1-0 lead over their crosstown rivals, the Yankees.
And, after their pitching ace threw only 77 pitches, Harvey was removed from the game, the Mets bullpen imploded, and Collins watched his team suffer an embarrassing 11-2 defeat.
Here’s Collins carefully trying not to explode after the game as reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports:
“It’s hard for me to get it. I am at heart an old school guy, but I understand where it’s coming from, therefore you adjust to it. You either adjust to it or get out. I might get out pretty soon, but I’m adjusting to it right now.”
In some ways what the Mets are asking of Collins must feel like being asked to lead his men to the front lines of the most important two week battle of his life, with water pistols as weapons.
On Tuesday, Collins will use Logan Verrett in place of Jacob deGrom in the starting rotation. It’s possible Collins will have Harvey for only three or four innings a start down the stretch prior to the final weekend against the Nationals.
“It’s hard. It’s hard. We’ve waited five years to be in this situation. And now you’ve got you’re # 1 pitcher, you’ve got to worry about what he does. You’re # 2 pitcher, we’re skipping. The # 3 pitcher, we’ve already skipped, in a pennant race.”
For five years, Terry Collins has been a good soldier. He’s prodded, he’s nurtured, he’s hemmed and he’s hawed, sometimes biting his tongue but always optimistic.
Now on the verge of attaining a success many predicted Terry Collins would never be around to see, the Met manager is being asked to get it done in the most unconventional of ways. In his day starting pitchers were the ultimate warriors, today they are pampered, protected and swaddled in bubble wrap.
“It’s for the best of them. It’s for the best of the organization. And, so you suck it up, and move on, and get ready for the next day.”
Terry Collins, an old school warhorse, yet so too is an organization guy who knows the ropes. With his eyes fixed on the finish line, Terry Collins soldiers on.