Terry Collins, who has waited a lifetime for a World Series, is enjoying these moments
For the first time in 15 years, the Mets are going to play for a World Championship.
There’s only one player on their active roster who is healthy with any World Series experience. And no, it’s not the 42-year-old veteran Bartolo Colon.
It’s Curtis Granderson, who was on the 2006 Tigers when they faced the Cardinals in the World Series, the team that defeated the Mets for the National League pennant in seven games that season.
As such, the Mets lack any kind of meaningful and recent experience on baseball’s biggest stage. Heck, even the manager doesn’t know what to expect going into the World Series, as this is his first postseason experience.
“I think anytime you do something for the first time you’re going to be better off if you’ve done it again,” Collins explained. “Certainly I think [the Royals] have a little bit more of an advantage that they’ve been through this before. They’ve been through all the hoopla and jumping through all the hoops before the game starts. They’re a little more used to it than we are. I don’t know how that’s going to translate on the field, but certainly they’re probably a lot more comfortable with what’s happening now than our guys will be shortly.”
Collins is tasked with trying to get his players to cope with the notion that they’re actually in the World Series and take these games as they would any other game while not losing sight of the moment.
That can be difficult, especially with players like Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard, key figures on this championship-calber club who began their years in the minor leagues.
“I told Michael Conforto, we can probably go back, … and not very often do you start out the year in A-ball and end up in the World Series. He’s in a unique situation, and he should be very proud of how hard he worked this year, and the fact that he gets this opportunity,” Collins explained.”
“I told Noah the same thing,” he continued. “I said, ‘You’re starting one of the biggest games in the city of New York in years and years. You should be proud of the fact that you’re able to do it and we think you’re ready to do it.'”
One Met who has waited his entire career for a championship, and devoted the remainder of his career to the Mets and their success is David Wright. He is playing in only his second postseason and obviously he first World Series.
And Collins couldn’t be happier for his third baseman, and is so appreciative of Wright deciding to re-up with the team he grew up rooting for, and grew up playing with.
“He’s been a Met his whole career,” the manager said Monday about Wright. “Obviously they got close one time. The kind of person he is, I’m not surprised when it’s time to resign here that he didn’t say, ‘Look, I’m a Met and I’m going to be a part of this moving forward.’ He saw those good arms coming along the line and wanted to be a big part of them.”
Collins could sense genuine joy in Wright after the club finally won the pennant.
Said Collins, “I think he’s thrilled to death. Talking to him after the game the other day, he was genuinely thrilled that he was a part of it.”
Upon returning from his 4 1/2 month stint on the disabled list, Collins said Wright initially came to him and said he only wanted to be a part of the success, even if it meant there might be someone better suited to play third base for the club right now.
“I’ve told you guys, it’s a true story, that guy walked in after four and a half months being out, he said, ‘I’m just glad to be back, I hope to help out, but you’re playing great and if you don’t want to play me, I get it,'” Collins explained. “If that doesn’t tell you what kind of a professional, what kind of a team-first attitude he’s got, that’s why he’s the captain.”
As for his own experience and the lessons he’s learned while being the Mets manager, Collins said he has learned to become more hands-off in New York, instead letting the players be players and the coaches coach the players, and allowing the chips to fall as they should.
“It’s hard to do,” Collins explained, “due to the title I have. But I try to stay out of the way. I have great coaches, I let them coach. My job is to pretty much make sure the players are on board with everything we’re doing. So I think I’ve changed a lot there. I don’t take everything as personal as I once did. And I let the coaches do that now.”
In the midst of learning lessons and dealing with his own unchartered path, Collins has led this group of inexperienced Mets to within four wins of doing something which has seemed impossible for so long, even as recently as four months ago.
Imagine if he could close the deal for the Mets? Collins would become an instant hero in New York City.
But no matter what happens, Collins is cool, calm and collected, enjoying every bit of this postseason experience.
“I can honestly tell you, I’ve been in baseball for 45 years, it tells you how hard it is to get here, so you better enjoy it, and I’m enjoying it,” Collins said.