(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
A year ago, he was vilified and the media and fans wanted him run out of town.
They said T.C.’s style doesn’t work and maybe, he was just too old for the job.
The year was 2007. The coach was named Tom Coughlin and the team was the New York Football Giants.
One miracle January run later and he was sainted by the fans and media alike.
Now New York is changing its tune on its other T.C. and Terry Collins is eight wins away from being immortalized in New York.
When he was hired back in 2010, he wasn’t a game changer. Unlike his counterpart in the Cubs dugout, Joe Maddon, Collins was never considered the type of top level manager that will elevate your team to the next level. He was a caretaker to the throne. It was always thought that when the Mets were ready to contend, Collins would be replaced with a more polished Major League manager.
But last year, general manager Sandy Alderson held serve with his field general and the 66 year-old manager was allowed to manage the talented Mets.
And Alderson was rewarded, as Collins proved very capable of the job.
Now understand, he will never remind anyone of John McGraw, Leo Durocher, Billy Martin, or even Bobby Valentine in the dugout. He’s not going to be the unorthodox manager that will make those in-game moves that always seem to work out.
No, Collins isn’t that type of manager. But in the Dodger series, he seemed to make all the right moves, especially in Game 5, when he stayed with a struggling Jacob deGrom and then turned the ball over to Noah Syndergaard in the seventh inning, something Thor never did before.
And then brought in Jeurys Familia for a six-out save, something he never accomplished either.
“I went to him (on Thursday) in the outfield during batting practice,” Collins said of his closer, “and said if we have a one-run lead in the eighth inning, you’re in the game, and Bartolo Colon was standing with him as he always is, and he goes, by all means, he’ll be ready, and he was, and that was the game plan from the start. And you know, those guys and the way they execute make you look real smart, but he was ready to go from the middle of the afternoon on.”
It’s that type of faith that makes Collins a great manger. He has his player believing in him. He’s honest and straight forward them and he lets the players police themselves. Matt Harvey went to Collins and told him that he wanted to pitch in Game 5 or Game 1 and The Dark Knight is now starting tonight.
And with the media, Collins has been a revelation. The farther the season went, the looser he was in the chair. Yesterday a reporter asked him about the 1969 season and got this response:
“1969? People in this room weren’t even born in 1969. I was trying to graduate from college. I don’t remember any races at that particular time. I have no idea, believe me. That was the ’60s. I was worried about going to war more than anything else.”
The Dodger reporters marveled at Collins adeptness with the press, after having to deal with Don Mattingly’s bland secretiveness and the New York press looks forward to what zingers come out of his mouth. He’s refreshing and honest. That’s all anyone asks for in covering the manager.
And with the fans, Collins is now beloved. After Game 5, he went over to the 2,000 or so Met fans in the stands at Dodger Stadium and high fived and hugged them.
“One of the things that I saw when I first came to the New York Mets, we have a fan base everywhere. Everywhere,” he said. “And so you’re at Dodger Stadium last night with 56,000 people, and about 2,000 Mets fans, who when that game was over, came down behind our dugout and cheered everything these guys did. I thought they deserved a little recognition.
“You know, I thought it was — but we had just won Game 5. I was pretty happy. I know for a lot of guys in here that happens all the time. It doesn’t happen a lot to me. So I was pretty excited about it. To see the looks on some of those guys’ faces, and you walk out on the field, and I mean, you couldn’t have been happier for Jeurys Familia, and the job that Jake deGrom did was incredible. So I was happy. You know, unfortunately once in a while, you let the emotions get out, and I’ll try to behave better next time.”
And now he gets to face his old bench coach in Maddon, a certified baseball genius, who changed the game with the use – or abuse depending on how you look at it – of the Williams Shift.
It’s going to be a challenge, but Collins is up to the task.
And maybe he will get the eight wins, so the T.C. will be immortalized like the Giants T.C.
Wouldn’t that be something.