Mets: Two puzzling decisions from Game 5 of World Series


The Mets’ off-season has begun. It began at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, November 2. It did not begin the way we had hoped. The Mets lost Game 5, and the 2015 World Series, to the Kansas City Royals as a Sunday night became a Monday morning.

In the aftermath of the ending of the World Series, it’s wise to look fondly back at a season where the Mets exceeded all expectations, had a magical ride in the months of August and September, and plowed through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

However, it may be too soon for that. The emotional wounds have not yet scabbed over. Many of us have the ninth inning of game five playing as an unwelcome tape loop in our heads. Mets’ manager Terry Collins made two decisions in the fateful ninth inning that, at least to me, were at best ponderous, and perhaps even incomprehensible.

Let’s start with decision one. The Mets, clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth behind the stellar work of Matt Harvey, loaded the bases with no one out. They had a chance to blow the game open, and all but assure themselves of a trip to Kansas City for game six. Cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes was up, in seemingly an ideal situation for the home team.

Cespedes fouled a ball off his left knee, with such force that he collapsed on the field like a tent in a hurricane. Writhing in pain, he was visited by Collins and the training staff. Atfer several minutes on the ground, Cespedes was helped up, and unable to put weight on his leg. Shockingly, Collins left the ailing Cespedes in the game to finish the at-bat. Unable to stride into pitches, he popped up weakly for an infield-fly out. He then left the game.

Why did Collins allow Cespedes to remain at the plate? Juan Lagares or Juan Uribe could have hit there (albeit with an 0-2 count). Clearly, the hope for power was not going to materialize from a man who could barely stand. In fact, Cespedes was a triple-play waiting to happen. Leaving him in to helplessly swing, in such a critical spot, defied any sense of logic.

And now for decision two. Matt Harvey was brilliant through eight innings. He did everything the Mets could have asked, shutting the Royals out in the elimination game. However, Harvey had thrown 102 pitches.

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Before the game, Collins said the plan was to go Harvey to Jeurys Familia for the save. The situation played out exactly that way. Collins and Dan Warthen told Harvey that he was done. However, Harvey objected, and Collins relented. Harvey took the mound, though he had not traditionally performed well after 100 pitches.

Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain, choosing a slider on 3-2. Collins did nothing. Harvey then gave up a double to Eric Hosmer, cutting the lead to 2-1, and painting the Mets into a corner, with the tying run on second and no outs. Collins then called for Familia, who through no fault of his own, was not able to keep Kansas City from tying the game.

Collins failed to realize that closers, Familia in particular, perform better when allowed to start an inning. Worse, no much worse, Collins allowed the player (and the crowd) to dictate his in-game moves.

Would it have been a wonderful story to see Harvey go all the way in an elimination game? It sure would have. But do you know what would have been better? Winning the game and moving to Game 6. A fresh Familia was the Mets’ best chance to get there, and Collins knew it, but did not have the strength of his convictions. He vacillated, and the Mets’ season ended.

In summary, Terry Collins made two decisions that cost the Mets dearly in Game 5. One, if not both, were influenced by the players involved. That’s simply not acceptable.

Leadership is about taking control, and doing the right thing, even if it’s not the popular thing. Terry Collins did not do that. His return in 2016 seems all but certain with the pennant-winning performance of the team in 2015.

As far as I’m concerned, Game 5 of the World Series serves as a giant red flag on the ledger of Terry Collins. Time will tell if Sandy Alderson sees it that way