By Rich Coutinho
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Last year, we saw Jerry Manuel time and time again show no emotion when the Mets lost game after game in ugly fashion. In fact, Manuel became an apologist for his players, explaining away bad baseball with a chuckle and a cliché. It angered Mets fans that their manager seems to accept the losing and never showed a sense of urgency.
In 2011, one thing is for sure–Terry Collins will not stand idly and watch his season go down the drain–at least not without his players hearing it from him.
From the first day in spring training, things seemed different with this manager as his passion was obvious. It was plain to see he wears his heart on his sleeve. To me, this team has not had passion like this in the manager’s chair since Bobby Valentine was here. And the time was right last night for the Mets’ manager to make his presence felt in the clubhouse.
What I liked most about Collins’ tirade is he did not single out any one person — which Manuel often did (Who could forget him calling Ryan Church “that guy?”) — and he was clear about what this team needs: more resiliency when a punch sends them to the canvass. Collins also chose to share it with the media while it was still fresh in his mind and he did not hold back. Part of the reason for that is Terry knows how the media game is played — he is now the story and ultimately that could take the heat off some players who might be pressing.
Collins used the word “urgency” in his post-game press conference quite a few times. That word was not used enough the last 3 seasons in any month of the year-let alone April. The Mets’ manager knows what he witnessed last night–another loss before a disinterested crowd during the season’s first homestand. The team has now dropped 4 of 5 games, which is not exactly inspiring fan interest. Granted, baseball is a long season, but in this sport, trends are often set early and are very hard to reverse during the course of a long summer.
The fiery Mets manager is disturbed by 2 particular trends–too many walks and not enough clutch hitting. The staff has surrendered 50 walks this season — entirely too many, particularly in this ballpark when you consider only 2 NL teams have issued more free passes than the Mets. As far as clutch hitting is concerned, The Mets are hitting .173 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs this season. Those 2 numbers combined reveal why the Mets have struggled through the season’s first 11 games.
Instead of making a wisecrack like his predecessor would have done, Terry Collins decided to take accountability for it and made it crystal clear that it will not be tolerated. He expects better from his players because even in a 162 game marathon, it could get late real early.
No one can predict what the future holds for the Mets but the manager said that he will make any necessary changes to get the team on course. More importantly, he is not afraid to let everyone know what is on his mind.
To borrow a phrase from the previous manager, “Now that’s gangsta.”
How do you compare Collins to Manuel? Weigh in below…