COLLINS LASHES AT FANS OVER VALDESPIN ISSUE
Terry Collins did what no manager should do, especially one with a career losing record likely to be made a scapegoat for what figures to be the Mets’ fifth consecutive losing season.
Collins, who has been erratic and puzzling on several issues this season, took on the exceedingly frustrated Mets’ fan base Tuesday night, basically calling them clueless and he didn’t care for their perception of his team, which is rapidly falling out of relevance before June.
Not surprisingly, the catalyst for Collins’ anger was the lingering Jordany Valdespin issue. Neither Collins nor general manager Sandy Alderson has been able to get through to Valdespin, and both handled his self-glorifying home run and subsequent beaning poorly.
If the Mets were winning, it would have gone away. Because they are not and in the midst of a stretch that could blow up their season, Valdespin is an issue.
After Valdespin’s homer last Friday in a blowout loss, Collins alluded to the possibility of the temperamental outfielder getting beaned as payback. Collins spoke of baseball’s unwritten code, and how Valdespin’s attitude is the norm and he couldn’t do anything about it.
Basically, he left it up to the Pirates teach his player a lesson, when what he should have done was rip Valdespin’s actions. Collins could have also told Pirates manager Clint Hurdle he would handle Valdespin.
By not doing so, Collins invited the Pirates to throw at his player. After the plunking, Collins pretty much said, “that’s baseball,’’ and Alderson took the same milquetoast approach.
No Met approached Valdespin after his dugout temper tantrum, and only David Wright offered any verbal support. The perception is the Mets don’t have Valdespin’s back, and several nameless quotes say he is universally scorned in the clubhouse.
Collins was asked whether Valdespin is on an island and told reporters in St. Louis: “I don’t answer to fans. They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there.
“They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level. … I’ll tell you one thing: Jordany knew they were going to throw at him. He knew it. And you’ve got to go take your medicine. That’s part of being a big guy in this league.’’
If Valdespin knew he would get hit – and his reaction suggests he might be oblivious to the baseball code – then why would he put his player in that position?
Telling Hurdle he would handle things might have prevented the rib-banging pitch.
There are varying perceptions of the incident brought on by how Collins and Alderson handled things. Shipping Valdespin’s butt out the next day would have sent a strong message to the Pirates as well as his clubhouse his hot-dogging would not be tolerated.
The perception of that would have been clear and decisive. If nothing else, it would have shown Collins and his front office were in sync.
Instead, Collins put himself in position to handle another question of which its answer could grease the skids on his exit.
“I don’t care what the perception is,’’ Collins said. “All I know is what goes on here. I’ve been doing this for 42 years. I don’t care what anybody on the outside thinks.
“I know how to get it done in the clubhouse. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than a lot of people. He’s fine. He handled it great, I thought, the way he went about it. He went to first base. He didn’t throw his bat any place. … He did it the right way. And now it’s over. Now we move on.’’
Easier said than done, because Valdespin did not handle it the right way. No, he didn’t throw his bat or charge the mound, but he did slam his helmet, which prevents moving on.
Collins then went on to make excuses for Valdespin, saying he had a tough background. He also said Valdespin has to be careful not to alienate his teammates, which might already be the case.
One day, Collins spoke of baseball’s code and another made excuses for his polarizing player. You can’t help but wonder how Valdespin’s teammates might be annoyed by that defense.
Valdespin was not in the lineup Tuesday, and for a team struggling for offense, the perception is clear he’s on the outs. So, why is he still here?
Yes, Collins has been in the game for over 40 years, and in that time one would have thought he would have learned a few things.
One, managers are hired to be fired, so don’t align yourself with a seemingly lost cause like Valdespin, because by the time he gets it, you’ll be gone.
Secondly, this fire keeps on burning because Collins refused to put it out. He knows he could have given a neutral answer with the Cardinals media in the room, then after the session gathered the New York writers into his office for an off-the-record briefing. That way, his ripping the fans never gets out.
Finally, don’t take on the fans, as they always have the last word. That word is “boo,’’ and Collins will hear it loudly if things don’t change fast.
I get emails all day long asking me why don’t we let the story die. My answer to them we are not the story, the Mets are the story and we do what we’ve been doing which is to report and debate things as they happen.
Two weeks ago there were plenty here who told me that it was a non-story when I wrote that there was something amiss between Jordany Valdespin and his teammates in the clubhouse.
I picked up on that during the start of Spring Training when two players came into the clubhouse to find their lockers and said, “Thank god I’m nowhere near Valdespin’s locker.”
“Joe D. you are reading too much into things.”
I commented on the jokes that were made when Valdespin was hit right in the groin and lied on the ground in pain.
Then there was the pie.
All I did is what any rational and reasonable person who reports would do and connected the dots.
Now it’s a full blown controversy and the only story that anyone is talking about.
How can you hope it goes away when the General Manager only two days ago added more fuel to the fire by saying he wasn’t hung out to dry, and then learning that Valdespin ask out of going to the plate a second time after being plunked the first time. A fact that Collins even admitted to shortly after he ripped into the fans.
The Mets create the stories and it’s on the Mets to stop feeding us the stories, not me. I don’t have the power to keep players, coaches and management from saying things that are better left unsaid. I can fault the players for saying silly and inappropriate things, but when management does it how can you find that to be acceptable and professional behavior.
I agree with Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post regarding Collins who said:
Collins probably knew, as soon as he said this, he shouldn’t have said this. He knows the fastest way to be packing your belongings in boxes — faster than losing games in bunches — is to take on fans. Fans are undefeated. Fans are a franchise’s lifeblood. Fans …
Well, fans allow you to stay relevant, long past your expiration date. I’ve believed, and written, that Collins deserves a full and fair accounting before his time is done here. But Collins has also found trouble in Houston and Anaheim when the losing became too much for him. In both cities, he lost the players, and that’s bad enough (and judging from the listless way the Mets mailed in another game with the Cards last night, 10-4, that may be happening again).
My big concern right now is that the Mets are blind to their own problem. That means nothing is being done to keep more incidents like this one from taking place. The best way to fix a problem is to admit you have one. So far management seems to think everything is hunky-dory when it’s clearly not.
How many dog houses does Terry Collins have and why was Ruben Tejada apparently in one of them last night when the manager decided to scratch him from the starting lineup before last night’s trouncing at the hands of the Cardinals?
That factoid came from Eddie Coleman who is not known for exaggerating the truth and conjuring up false storylines. Eddie is as straight as an arrow.
Is there anyone else residing in these dog houses aside from Jordany Valdespin and Ruben Tejada and when are their parole dates?
I don’t make the stories, I just talk about them and ask the tough questions and am usually the first to do so. Ahh… the benefits of having an independent Mets site.