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Turns out, the manager was just warming up.
Collins, still red-faced and fuming, saved his "A'' material for the tape recorders and TV cameras at his postgame news conference. After watching the Mets blow a 2-0 lead and bumble through an embarrassing seventh inning, when the Pirates scored five runs on five infield hits, Collins finally snapped. It took 54 games, but he apparently had reached his breaking point.
"I don't have the answers," he said, his voice raised. "I'm searching. I'm wringing the rag dry, coming in here and having to look at you guys and having you look at me like I'm a stinking fool.
"I told those guys -- we're good enough. We've got to go play the game right. We just can't continue to make foolish mistakes."
Collins, from Day 1, has tried to boost morale, knowing his team's shortcomings. But the Mets have been playing shorthanded for a while, and there's only so long you can skate by with backups at key positions on a regular basis. Still, Collins refused to make excuses, despite dropping a second straight to the Pirates with a late-inning meltdown.
"They're big-league players," Collins said. "They should be able to do it. I don't know what it is -- I'm not in their minds. But it's how you play the game. I'm not pointing fingers at the players -- all of them -- either.
"It comes back on my shoulders, and I'll take all the blame that anybody wants to hand out. They're my players. Therefore, maybe I got to make some adjustments, and by God, they'll be made. I don't know if it comes with finding different players, but they'll be made. Something's going to be changed."
But what? While Collins' outburst made for good theater, not much can be done with this current roster, especially with David Wright and Ike Davis out indefinitely. Jose Reyes will return from bereavement leave for today's series finale, but the Mets still have plenty of holes.
Collins' stinging lecture was brief -- only a few minutes -- but the message got through.
"He was red," Jason Bay said. "He's fed up with the way we're playing and he got his point across. There's got to be less waiting and hoping and more doing."
Said Willie Harris: "Everybody in this clubhouse wants to win. Then you make the manager come in here and give it to you like that, almost like you upset your mother, nobody wants that."
The Mets didn't make an error in that seventh inning. It was more general ineptitude as Pittsburgh loaded the bases with three infield hits to start it. Chris Capuano missed first base on a flip from Daniel Murphy, Harris couldn't throw out Neil Walker on a bunt and Capuano couldn't handle Matt Diaz's tapper in front of the mound.
The strangest play of the seventh happened when Chris Snyder hit a grounder to shortstop Ruben Tejada, who flipped to Harris for the force at third. Though it appeared Harris had a foot on the base, he still tried to tag Walker, and umpire Doug Eddings called him safe.
Next, centerfielder Angel Pagan let Lyle Overbay's line drive kick off his glove after a sprinting chase -- it was ruled a hit -- and the Pirates scored three more runs off Pedro Beato on two singles (one infield) and a fielder's choice grounder.
"I'm sick of trying to describe seventh innings," Collins said. "I'm running out of ideas here. The issue is not effort. It's execution. I sit up every night trying to figure out what we can do to get us over the top."