Terry Collins wouldn’t come out and say it, but his clipped answers to pointed questions strongly suggest he believes his team has quit.
As he said several times during the Mets’ second-half collapse, “it’s all about perception.’’
After being blown out 16-1 by the Phillies before published estimates of around 1,000 fans at Citi Field, an exasperated and visibly upset Collins gave short, terse answers to the questions everybody who bothered to watch were asking: Do you think your team has quit?
There’s no more biting question to ask a major league manager.
Collins gave his team the benefit of doubt after more than a few dismal performances this summer. Not last night. Last night, with his words and their tone, Collins threw his team under the bus, and deservedly so.
Asked if the Mets quit, Collins said: “You’ll have to ask them. I have my own opinion. I’m not going to express it publicly.’’
He might as well have screamed “YES.’’
In addition to the score, Collins said, “I saw some things tonight that were unacceptable.’’
When asked to specify, Collins refused, and when pressed if he thought his players were embarrassed, he abruptly said: “You have to ask them. I’m not inside their heads.’’
Normally, when a coach or manager says such a thing, the first reaction is how can he not know what his team is thinking? Doesn’t he have the pulse of this team?
Collins does, but didn’t want to attach his name to the actual quotes. Maybe he thinks by doing so he won’t be able to work with them next year. At least, with those who will be left.
Or, maybe he wouldn’t say they quit because by doing so would be a reflection on him. After all, when a team quits, it means the manager lost the clubhouse. That’s the perception Collins wants to mask.
The Mets have gone 16 straight games having scored three or fewer runs at home. One would think they’d score four by accident. If they didn’t quit, then they are playing uninspired, listless baseball. Collins said letdowns are to be expected, but this is more than a letdown.
“We’ve had a huge letdown in the second half,’’ Collins said. “People paid money to see us tonight. Our fans, not that we wouldn’t have lost 16-1, but not the way we lost. This is the big leagues.
“It’s all about perception. And the perception is tonight after we’re down 8-0 the game was over. No disrespect to Tyler Cloyd. None whatsoever. But three hits? Please. We’re better than that.’’
Well, not lately.
David Wright and Ike Davis refuted the notion the players quit. Both spoke in cliché, saying this is their job and the players work hard in preparation.
Neither was convincing. The only thing convincing about last night were all the empty seats.