I was hoping to have put virtual pen to paper already by this time to recount some of the sights and sounds I witnessed down in Port St. Lucie, but a wicked case of the flu left me drained and in much need of a few days of R&R. Here’s to hoping my brain wasn’t so fried by the massive fever I was running that I can add a few insights to the past, present and future of Mets baseball.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with the guy now manning the ship from the dugout, Terry Collins. When my reporter, Tom McDonald, and I stepped onto one of the sun-drenched back fields Tuesday morning at around 1o am, Tom asked me to immediately focus my camera lens on the fiery new Mets manager when he emerged from the clubhouse. After about 1o minutes, Collins walked through the gate that led onto the field, side by side with Jason Bay. The two men appeared to be having a spirited discussion. Not unexpectedly, Collins, a short figure who walks with choppy, energetic steps was doing most of the talking.
I proceeded to follow Collins with my lens after he broke away from Bay. He meandered his way through various groupings of players, coaches and instructors, clapping his hands, smacking guys on the backside, chirping good-natured ribbings at guys. To say this guy has some energy would be the understatement of all time.
Now I admit, I was skeptical of this hiring back in December. I guess my main concern was that Collins hadn’t been a manager since he resigned from the California Angels with 29 games left in the 1999 season. His stints in Houston and Anaheim ended badly. In both places, his grating style led to revolts by some players in the clubhouse and his eventual dismissal.
After watching Collins navigate his way from drill to drill, from field to field, from player to player for the two days we were at camp and then listening to his six-minute 1-on-1 interview with Tom, this guy is starting to grow on me. Granted, the Mets have yet to play a regular season game and ultimately, a manager is judged by wins and losses, but I genuinely like Terry Collins. He sounds like a changed man from his managerial days two decades ago. I am not sure he has mellowed much, but he did tell us that he thinks he has a better understanding of how to treat people and that hopefully he learned his lesson form his days in Houston and Anaheim.
For a little closer look at Collins and how some of the Mets players have reacted to his ant-Jerry Manuel ways thus far, take a look at the piece Tom and I cut for NY1 a few days back:
In the next part of my Reflections from Port St. Lucie Series, I’ll relay what the teams’ two cornerstones, David Wright and Jose Reyes had to say about their new manager, the upcoming season, and what the future holds.