KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With his team four victories shy of reaching the World Series, John Gibbons would be paying attention to the Cubs-Mets series regardless.

But there's a more personal connection for the Blue Jays' manager than a strictly baseball interest in whom his club could play if it gets past the Royals in the ALCS.

Gibbons was drafted by the Mets and, later in his career, played for Terry Colllins in the Dodgers' organization.

"I'm a Met," Gibbons said a couple of hours before Toronto's 5-0 loss in ALCS Game 1. "I'll always be a Met."

Gibbons was chosen by the Mets in the first round of the 1980 draft -- taken 24th overall -- and the catcher eventually made his major-league debut for them in 1984.

He played only 18 games in the big leagues, all with the Mets -- 10 in 1984 and another eight in 1986, the year of the Mets' last championship.

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"I've got a lot of friends over there," said Gibbons, whose current club has a steep hill to climb after the Royals rallied in Game 2 for a 6-3 victory. "I was over there probably a year and a half, I think it was, in the mid '80s, up and down, that kind of thing, the last time they had some really, really good teams. It's been a long time coming. But there's so many good people over there working, you root for those guys. So I'm happy with what's going on here and with the Metros and everything like that. It's kind of cool."

In 1988, a 26-year-old Gibbons was traded to the Dodgers for Craig Shipley and assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

His manager?

Terry Collins.

"I loved Terry," said Gibbons, now 53. "I spent that one year with him. He was probably the most focused, at that time too intense, and really enthusiastic guy I'd ever played for. We had a good team and he was energized every day. He had that gear most guys didn't have. And a great baseball mind."

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Gibbons played for Collins for just that one year, getting into 76 games, but it was a memorable and influential one.

"It was a tremendous year," Gibbons said. "You play or there's friends you come across that have done the same job as you; you pick up a lot of things from a lot of guys. I enjoyed playing for him. I learned a lot."