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.
I always try to look for something when I watch the Mets and last night it was R.A. Dickey. But, let’s be frank, there’s nothing compelling about them right now.
Terry Collins has often spoken of accountability, fundamentals and playing the game the right way. I can’t see that anywhere in the second half. The Mets have gone 12 straight games at home without scoring more than three runs and have lost 21 of their last 25 at Citi Field. That’s almost impossible to do.
It makes me wonder if they’ve quit on Collins and themselves. When a team packs it in it shows up on offense because players start swinging at garbage – as if to get it over with – and give away at-bats. Bernie Williams said you can’t afford to take a pitch off, let alone a play or an at-bat. Winning entails total concentration and you don’t see that with the Mets.
When they cut it to seven games below .500, silly me, I thought they had a chance to play for something. But, they’ve lost five straight. Meanwhile, the Phillies, who have been behind the Mets in the standings for a good part of the season and were sellers at the trade deadline have reached .500 and are still in the wild-card hunt. That says a lot about them.
The Mets are again closing in on the basement, and with games remaining against Miami and teams with something to play for, how can they not land there?
The Mets are off today giving us other things to think about, such as the Giants’ secondary and inability to put together a running game. Also a chance to lament about another September of non-meaningful games for the Mets.
The Mets are mired in fourth place, thinking about how a hot run could have them chasing .500, which would be a successful season. Personally, I’d rather have the collapses of 2007 and 2008 than what they are today. At least they were in a pennant race, and if you’re a baseball fan, that’s all you can ask for from your team.
Since 1997, when Orioles manager Davey Johnson was named manager of the year and fired the same day by Peter Angelos, the franchise that long symbolized baseball excellence had hit the skids.
The Orioles showed some improvement last year, but were still projected to finish last in the AL East. But the Orioles have some power, their bullpen has pitched well and they took an impressive 24-7 record in one-run games. That record, despite a negative run differential, is the probably the single most significant stat to explain why the Orioles are in a pennant race.
Conversely, the Mets are 17-18 in one-run games, symbolic of a team with sporadic power and an inconsistent bullpen.
Can the Mets improve enough from within to be a contender like the Orioles?
Baltimore has more power, where the Mets’ anticipated power from David Wright – he’s fallen way for of expectations in that area- Jason Bay and Lucas Duda hasn’t been there. Maybe Wright and Duda will produce next year to bring the Mets’ power numbers up.
Building a bullpen is a tricky proposition and should Sandy Alderson accomplish that objective, perhaps Citi Field will be alive as Camden Yards will be tonight. It could be if the Mets split their losses in one-run games. Add nine wins and subtract nine losses and the Mets are right there in wild-card contention.
Split those losses in one-run games and the Mets are playing meaningful baseball in September.
Evidently, there is something else to look forward to seeing this season, and that is Jenrry Mejia starting for Johan Santana Thursday against the Rockies.
Santana will have the results of Tuesday’s MRI on his back tomorrow. The Mets haven’t officially shut down Santana for the season, but it is heading in that direction.
Santana has made 21 starts this season, and following the season’s high point in his no-hitter, he is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA in his last ten starts.
* The Mets announced today a Kids Go Free ticket offer for the Mets-Rockies game Thursday, August 23 at 1:10 p.m. at Citi Field. Up to three children 12 and under will get free admission with the purchase of regularly priced tickets.
For the Kids Go Free ticket offer available via phone at (718) 507-TIXX and in person at the Citi Field Box Office, fans buying one adult ticket will get up to three complimentary kids tickets. or the ticket offer available online at Mets.com/KidsFree, fans may purchase a Family Four Pack that includes four tickets for the price of two.
For the ticket offer available online at Mets.com/KidsFree, fans may purchase a Family Four Pack that includes four tickets for the price of two.
All tickets must be picked up at Citi Field the day of the game and children must be present.
For more information, contact the Mets Ticket Office at (718) 507-TIXX.