A key to the Mets success lies with someone who wasn’t supposed to be here by now…
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
When Terry Collins was hired in November, 2010, it was always believed Sandy Alderson appointed him to bridge the gap between the transition years which would follow to whoever would lead the Mets into the phase they find themselves in today, which is a playoff bound National League East champion.
As it turns out, Terry Collins is that guy.
Perhaps the club’s rise to the top of the division came prematurely. Perhaps the Mets ultimately viewed Collins as that guy to lead the Mets into this new frontier.
Maybe it was a little bit of both.
Either way, much like David Wright, Collins deserves as much praise and reverence as anyone in this organization for the work he has done to not only lead the Mets in this stunning run into October, but for his ability to keep the glue from breaking as the Mets and the fan base waited endlessly for Saturday’s moment to come.
“It’s gratifying to see it come together, “GM Sandy Alderson on Saturday. “Terry did a super job holding the team together for as long as he did, and then taking advantage of some additional personnel late in the season, managing the pitching staff.
“You think about what [Dan Warthen] and Terry did with the pitching staff, having to skip starts and limit innings and do a host of things to try to get us to the end, it really was an incredible job in that area, not to mention keeping everybody on an even keel.”
And that’s probably what he’s best at. Even during the leaner years, Collins did a tremendous job shielding his clubhouse from all of the negativity, doing whatever he could do to keep a positive tone and change what was really a flawed culture with this organization prior to his arrival.
Even in 2015, when the team was in shambles as late as July 24, when Eric Campbell and John Mayberry Jr. batted third and fourth against Clayton Kershaw at Citi Field, he took the lumps and the hits for the team’s uninspiring play and broken roster, ensuring the culture he had helped create behind those close doors remained nurtured and unaffected.
He has managed with less for far longer than anyone could have anticipated, even up to that July 24 red letter date.
That in and of itself should put him in the lead for National League Manager of the Year in 2015.
Now, after his 803rd game managing these Mets, he has risen to the top and reached the playoffs for the first time in his 40-year baseball career.
“This is what it’s all about,” Collins told Gelbs after Saturday’s win. “This is why you play the game. You’re tired. You’re worn out. This is worth all the effort, all the hours. There’s no way to describe it until you’ve done it. It’s worth all the time, all the press conferences and everything you do, this is the culmination of it all. It’s a great feeling and it’s really fun.
“It’s tremendous for me, for our fan base,” Collins continued. “They’ve been waiting a long time for this and I’m so happy for them. We asked them to be patient and they were.
Collins began realizing the time had finally come after the Mets jumped out to a 7-2 lead, thanks to Lucas Duda’s first career grand slam, a solo home run from Curtis Granderson, and a two-run double from Michael Cuddyer.
“I started thinking about my dad in the third inning,’’ Collins told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. “He’d be real happy today. He’s the reason I’m here in the game today. This is for him. And this is for all these players.’’
But for Collins, this is only the first of many steps he expects to take with his Mets. He is not close to satisfied, as both he and his team remain hungry for what lies at the top of the baseball world.
“This team is going to be good for a long time,” the manager concluded.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t supposed to be here by now.