Best: Collins must learn to work with NY media

The tightly wound Terry Collins will have to

The tightly wound Terry Collins will have to accept the reality of the ever-present New York media as manager of the Mets. (Credit: AP, 1996)

Intense? We can do intense. Hey, New York is all about intensity.

It worked for the last two metropolitan-area pro teams to secure championships, in which tightly wound field bosses won Super Bowl XLII in 2007-08 and the World Series in 2009.

But as the Mets' new skipper, Terry Collins, faces the full force of the New York media for the first time this morning, here is something for him to keep in mind:

Both the Giants' Tom Coughlin and Yankees' Joe Girardi won it all in the first season in which they made it a point to chillax around the media mob.

Neither man had a personality transplant; they just learned not to make life unnecessarily difficult for themselves and to accept the reality of life in Media City.

In fact, Girardi said he modeled his '09 adjustments on what Coughlin had done before him.

This is the point in these sorts of columns in which I make the disclaimer that I understand winning is 99 percent of the job, and that fans don't care whether their coach/manager is nice to journalistic pests.

But this, too, is true: Given the magnitude of the daily media following for most New York pro teams, maintaining peaceful relations eliminates a potential distraction for the coach and players.

That does not mean a lifeline to reporters can save a sinking ship, as Jerry Manuel and others before him have learned. But it also doesn't hurt.

What will Collins be like? We will have a slightly better sense after Tuesday. But his first impression was concerning.

Newsday's Ken Davidoff was among several reporters who spoke to Collins on Thursday after the Mets interviewed him and asked him questions about his resume, including the 1999 Angels' epic meltdown.

"Man, he is intense,'' Davidoff later blogged. "To the point of being off-putting.'' Hmm.

Not counting Japan, this will be the first time since 1999 that Collins will work with reporters on a daily basis. So information on his media M.O. is as dated as his managerial resume.

But some newspaper archaeology turned up Mike DiGiovanna, the longtime Angels beat reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

DiGiovanna confirmed that "intense'' is a fair description. But he also lauded Collins for being quotable, accessible, accountable and honest - sometimes too much so for his own good.

"He did kind of wear his emotions on his sleeve,'' DiGiovanna said. "He just really struggled to lie to us. Most managers are really good at that.

"He wasn't politically correct. He wasn't that concerned with his image. I like the guy a lot.''

Collins' term in Anaheim was derailed by what DiGiovanna called a "toxic'' clubhouse in '99.

The low point surely was an Aug. 31 game in Cleveland in which the Angels led 12-4, then allowed 10 runs in the eighth and lost, 14-12.

"The first question I asked him [afterward] was if it was the most embarrassing loss he ever had been a part of,'' DiGiovanna said. The fact the reporter survived to tell the tale presumably is a good sign.