By Rich Coutinho
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I love everything about Terry Collins.
He’s old school. He’s fiery and emotional. And he absolutely refuses to think negatively.
That’s why I think what he said to reporters Saturday was very important. You see, we’ve become sheep: we listen, we follow, we believe things to be true. Granted the Mets are in a tough division and haven’t really added any “big-name free agents.” Add that to the organization’s difficult financial situation, and you have many experts already penciling the Mets in for a poor season.
Collins isn’t buying it. Nobody wins anything at the Winter Meetings. When you get past all the talk about litigation and salary, this game gives you nothing. And talent or high-salaried players do not guarantee a thing. What it comes down to is how they play, day in and day out, through a 162-game marathon.
It is not so much ability as it is durability — and lack of the latter hurt the Mets last year. So if you tell me that Johan Santana, David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis will find durability I will tell you the Mets’ report card might look vastly different from what the experts are expecting.
Collins knows this because he is a veteran baseball man who knows how to motivate players. In the first half of last season, he had this team playing hard after a rough start. He ran a clubhouse that had “real chemistry.” Even if the team lost, they fought hard and played smart, heads up baseball.
In the second half of the year, the bullpen betrayed the Mets after K-Rod was dealt to the Brewers. But this team still fought hard and young players like Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda got valuable experience. That’s why on the last weekend of the season Terry Collins broke down and lost it during one of his postgame press conferences. He takes losing hard because he cares about his players — and the fans as well. He strives to get the most out of his team and demands a focus to detail that his predecessor did not demand.
He is a winner.
We all know the Mets’ journey will be a tough one. This division is loaded and the expectations are low. But that can be a positive. And nobody understands that better than Collins. This Mets team has some talent when you talk about guys like Wright, Santana and Jason Bay. I also think Davis will have his “coming out party” in 2012 while youngsters like Duda and Daniel Murphy will continue their development.
The Mets would not be the first team to benefit from an “Us Against The World” mentality. And they won’t be the last. The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks and the 2010 Cincinnati Reds come to mind as well as the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.
All of those teams had a strong presence in the manager’s chair — and Collins fits that mold.
The story of the 2012 Mets has not been written yet, no matter what the reporters or bloggers would have you believe.
And that is all Terry Collins was saying.
Do you think the Mets will surprise their critics? Sound off below…