Long before there was a magic number placed on the Mets’ path to the wild card, another far less public countdown may have been in play on Terry Collins. Though the organization never confirmed the Collins Watch, it seemed undeniable right up to Aug. 19 when Sandy Alderson issued somewhat of a vote of confidence.
The general manager’s comment to Newsday’s Marc Carig — “I don’t expect any change” — came when the Mets were on a 13-19 skid after the All-Star break. Alderson’s comments did not sound like a ringing endorsement. “The short answer is he is staying, because we think that it’s in the best interest of the organization.’’
Alderson spoke just over a week after pointedly saying nothing in Detroit when Collins failed to ask for a replay when Jay Bruce was called out at home with what would have been the tying run in a 6-5 loss to the Tigers. Alderson met with Collins, presumably to discuss the matter, but Anderson never shared that conversation with the media.
Collins always seems to have a year left on his contract and, fittingly, he has one more year to go after this season ends. At 67, Collins is just over a month older than the Nationals’ Dusty Baker, the oldest manager in MLB. He has never expressed any fears over losing his job, but that does not mean he doesn’t cherish it. Last season he said he would not take his Social Security check until he leaves baseball. It is presumed that the Mets will be his last managerial job in the big leagues.
Collins was asked Tuesday if this season seemed as chaotic from the inside as it looked from the outside.
“In the manager’s room it did,’’ he said. “We tried not to let it spread to the clubhouse too bad. But there’s so much maneuvering that we had to do or so much skipping this guy, pitching this guy, giving this guy a day off. Hey, look, this guy’s banged up, he needs two days and you need to fill in. We know that certainly the planes from Vegas were here a lot. There’s a lot of red-eyes that were used. But it all comes with the territory.
“I thought our coaches handled it great. I thought our players handled it great. I go back to some of those guys that came here from Las Vegas. Matt Reynolds being one of them, this guy took two red-eyes in both games and ends up hitting big home runs for us. Because they want to be a part of it. And when you sell yourself, hey, look, I want to do something to help out, you’ve got a pretty good player on your hands. But our clubhouse, they manage those situations in some of those dramas in great ways to keep everybody levelheaded.’’
Collins had his moments. After one lopsided loss he threatened to bring up players from Triple-A Las Vegas to “get after it,’’ one of his favorite expressions, if the present roster did not turn it around. Interesting, it was Vegas call-ups such as T.J. Rivera and Robert Gsellman who made major contributions down the stretch,
On the cusp of Wednesday night’s wild-card game against the Giants, all was good. “Well, we’ve got, in my opinion, an outstanding clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Collins said. “They talk about repeating, going to the World Series, and I remember the first day of spring training when Yoenis Cespedes walked into my office the first day he reported, and I hadn’t been able to talk to him since we had signed him. He walked in and said, are you ready to go back to the World Series? And I said, now that you’re here, yes, we are.
“So it started there. They want to win. They never got down. Once in a while, the manager has something to say, but it’s pretty much the guys in that clubhouse that deal with each other on a daily basis, your peers that step up and have the right things to say a lot. Never letting guys who have a bad day get down.
“So we’ve been very fortunate that we’ve got a group of guys that have great leadership ability in our clubhouse, and yet at the same time tremendous competitive makeup, along with talent. So we got to where we needed to get to.’’