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The Mets' second wind

Say what you want about Jerry Manuel and his time managing the Mets. We certainly said plenty here. The guy seemed to have no concept of roster management or game management, and while he could entertain the media like a latter-day Casey Stengel, he wound up creating more waves with many of his bizarre comments.

But I do think that he deserves a sliver of credit (against the many demerits that deservedly got him canned) for the Mets' second and third winds of 2010. The runs that made them an interesting club for the first half of the season before everything turned very sour once more.

If you remember - or, if you want to cheat and look at the '10 Mets' game log - the Mets started last year in a 4-8 funk, then enjoyed a 9-1 homestand to climb upward to 13-9. And after they fell to 21-23, they ran off a 22-9 streak to reach their high-water mark for the season, 43-32.

Yes, a large part of such streaks is simply baseball players doing thier jobs. In particular, the Mets struck gold when a fella (I like how Ken Howard's character on "30 Rock" says "fella") named R.A. Dickey rose up from nowhere and began befuddling the baseball world with his knuckleball.

But I think Manuel actually helped maintain calm during the first half of last year. He held a couple of team meetings in which he simply declared his faith in the guys. He stayed out of their way in the clubhouse. Conversely, he put an end to John Maine's Mets run when he removed Maine from a game in Washington after five pitches, and that scored points in the clubhouse, as well.

Fast forward to 2011, and I think it appears that that Terry Collins' honeymoon period is coming to an end. The Mets lost again last night, thanks to another bullpen meltdown, but what was most notable was how the loss resulted largely from two botched defensive plays by the relievers: Ryota Igarashi's shaky throw home off Jonathan Herrera's comebacker in the sixth - Josh Thole managed to touch the plate for one out, but couldn't even try to complete an inning-ending double play, which consequently allowed Carlos Gonzalez to stroke a game-tying, two-run single - and Bobby Parnell's bad throw home on CarGo's eighth-inning dribbler, which allowed Dexter Fowler to score the game-winning run.

It evoked memories of, well, ...Manuel's Mets. And Willie Randolph's Mets. And Art Howe's Mets. Of giving the opponent too many opportunities.

Given that much of Collins' public campaign has been about "Playing the game the right way" and all that, it had to sting Mets fans all the more. Neither Igarashi nor Parnell looked mentally prepared for their big moments on defense.

I watched Collins' post-game comments on SNY, and he mentioned the Mets' fight after they fell behind, 7-4. He said they've been in every game except one (the blowout in the final game in Philadelphia last week), which is both true and commendable.

What intrigues me the most, at this juncture, is how Collins handles the clubhouse in the wake of these continual disappointments. Will he let the players do their thing, figuring that, if they keep playing like this, the bullpen will protect a few leads and all will be well? Will he call a meeting?

The first wind, fueled by a fun spring training - new managers always seem to do well in spring training - and that 3-1 start to the season, appears to be nearing the end. Let's see how many more winds these Mets have in them.

--Mike Pelfrey was better, but not much better, David Lennon writes.

--Jason Isringhausen returned to the Mets. As Tyler Kepner noted, Isringhausen set a record for longest span between appearances in a Mets uniform.

--The Mets slashed some ticket prices by 50 percent for some select games.

--The Yankees aren't hitting much, as Erik Boland writes. I received some questions, both here in the blog and over at Twitter, about the discrepancy in comments made pre-game and post-game about Derek Jeter by hitting coach Kevin Long, which Boland documents.

Andrew "The Clicker" Marchand and I spoke with Long before Sunday night's game, and that's when Long conceded that Jeter's stance had essentially reverted back to the classic Jeter stance we all know. I wasn't with Long post-game - Boland was - but it's evident that Long didn't claim he was misquoted or anything that drastic.

Rather, he didn't want any negative spin put on the Jeter alterations. Which is fully understandable. Honestly, in my mind, when I wrote my column Sunday night, I wasn't condemning Jeter as much as observing what a mess he looked like. I've criticized Jeter for a few different things here over the years, but I would never question his commitment or his dedication to his job.

--The Orioles kick offf a three-game series in the Bronx tonight, for what should be a fun series.

--My Sunday Insider made a late appearance on our website yesterday. The lead item is about Manny Ramirez, whom we haven't really discussed here because I had some personal business to attend to last Friday, when the story broke. My column pretty much addresses my stance on the matter. 

--The Long Island Ducks signed former Met Duaner Sanchez.

--The Barry Bonds jury deliberated yesterday, for a second day, and reviewed transcripts of an interview with prosecution witness Kathy Hoskins.

--Sounds like it was quite a touching scene at AT&T Park, where the Giants and Dodgers players pleaded for the fans to get along in light of the March 31 beating of a Giants fan at Dodger Stadium.

--Check back later today for a contest.


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