Hey Terry Collins, Only You Can Prevent Clubhouse Fires!

I like Terry Collins. Terry Collins knows more baseball than you, me and anyone else who calls themselves a baseball fan and although he didn’t say it quite the way he should have, he’s right no Mets fans knows what goes on in the teams clubhouse better than he does. But with all that it seems to me, an outsider that the players are running that clubhouse and because of past bad experiences as manager of the Angles and Astros, Collins is too worried about a repeat of those experiences in Anaheim and Houston.  The problem with that is, Nice Guy Terry Collins is going to end up in the same place as an Angry Guy Terry Collins, out of a job.

The Saga of Jordany just won’t go away.  It’s the talk of the town and now it has spread across the nation. In a story in USA Today, LaTroy Hawkins and Marlon Byrd, two players new to the Mets, have called out Valdespin in print for being an obnoxious little shit. What does this have to do with Collins? Well, if I’m the Mets manager I’d call both of these veterans into my office and rip them two new assholes. Valdespin is hated for lack of baseball decorum so why is Hawkins and Byrd treated differently for violating the baseball tenant of what’s said in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse ? This Valdespin situation is been going on too long, you think a Tony LaRussa or Billy Martin would let this go on? These are the kind of situation that Joe Torre was at his best in, making sure little clubhouse fires don’t turn into infernos. Terry Collins is thisclose to having to put out a 3 alarm fire.

So Valdespin flips a bat and embarrasses Jose Contreas and is charged with a capital crime in baseball, but talking about teammates to the press has no repercussions? What a bunch of bullshit. What’s the standard? When does the manager get mad enough to call his team together and read the riot act to shut the fuck up and put all this hate towards Valdespin and aim it at the opposition?     

Sandy Alderson has said on many occasions that the Mets win/loss record would not dictate if Collins gets an extension of his contract. Collins will be judge on the progress the team has made from last year to this year so right now Collins looks like a prime candidate for a 1 bedroom at Del Bocca Vista. If anything this team has regressed badly. Now that’s not all Collins fault, that blame goes more to the front office and ownership that essentially has written off 2013 and has its sights on 2014 and beyond. The problem though that Collins has is the front office wants to see what he can do with the so called talent they have given him. That’s quite a task.

Collins needs to start challenging his players. He has to stop worrying that if he becomes Terry Hard Ass they will revolt instead of their current state of being revolting to watch. Good Guy Terry is not getting much of anything out this group so maybe it’s time to rattle some cages.

Yesterday I attended the Mike Francesa and Bobby Valentine breakfast at the Hard Rock Café. Valentine, an early riser, was at the Hard Rock so early that he came around to each table to chat with the folks in attendance.  I’ve been a Valentine fan for a while and yesterday just enforced my admiration for him. After the program, Valentine hung around and was talking with a few of us who didn’t have to run to work. At one point while having a nice chat on baseball, Valentine said “com’on walk with me while I get something to eat” and as he tried to find some breakfast he never broke stride in our conversation.

Bobby V had some very interesting thoughts on the game:

As a player who was beaned, once right near his eye that a doctor said if it were an inch up, probably would have blinded him, he feels the “unwritten rule” of hitting someone is stupid and should not be tolerated.

When asked about Roger Clemens throwing the bat head of Mike Piazza’ bat at Piazza, Valentine said the team was in shock when happened and after hearing about Clemens using PED’s it all came together to him that Clemens was wound up on something that night. He also said that Bud Selig spoke to both he and Joe Torre letting them know that he didn’t want anything to go one in this series that would embarrass baseball.  So it was quite surprising when Clemens wasn’t discipline or tossed for his actions.

Bobby V could not believe how there was this much fuss over the Vladespin home run pimp job and the fact that it’s still being talk about and how he can’t understand why Valdespin is not in the Mets lineup every day. When Francesa said that Vladespin might not produce a lot if he played every day , Valentine countered with how do we know unless he plays and pointing out that no one else is producing so give him the shot as he can hit, has power, can steal a base so why is he being wasted on the bench?

Valentine is a proponent of sabermetrics and talked about his time as Texas Rangers manger when he had hired Craig Wright as his Sabermetrician  for the Rangers. He spoke about how he also waited on line at bookstores waiting to get the latest copy of The Bill James Abstract on its release day. As much as he used advanced analytics as a manager he said that the statistics are a very good barometer of what a player did in the past but not in predicting the future. Valentine went on to talk about how you could project what a player could do but as we see with many players unforeseen circumstances arise and throw off the statistical projections.

Valentine loved the enthusiasm of the teams that participated in the World Baseball Classic and spoke to people at MLB during the finals in San Francisco about encouraging teams in MLB to not supress players to show the type of emotion that Latin countries and not be so stuffy. Valentine was candid in saying that MLB needs to find a way to get more women and minorities to come out and watch baseball games.

On his year with the Red Sox, Valentine said it was an experience and another “notch on his belt” and not much more. He also said that while he was a fan of Bill James and was looking forward to working with James, he never once heard from him nor was he ever given any statistical reports. Valentine was shaking his head as he told that story.     

 

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My Day At Highlander Stadium with Terry Collins, Joe Girardi and Dunkin Donuts !

This isn’t the best commercial acting I’ve ever seen but you have to admit, it beats the hell out the SUBWAY ads with Joe Torre and Willie “But it’s toasted Joe “Randolph

Yesterday I was invited to an event at Highlander Stadium by Dunkin Donuts that featured an appearance by Highlander skipper Joe Girardi and our own Terry Collins. This was a much different experience than I’ve had at Citi Field when myself and other Mets bloggers have been invited to participate in the pre and post-game activities that the main stream sports media attend daily.

Before I get to the access I had to the managers, a little about how they do things media wise in the South Bronx. When I arrived at the stadium I headed for Gate 4, the press gate, as I entered there are two x-ray machines just like what you see at the airport. I had to put my knapsack on the conveyor belt so it could be scanned, I didn’t know if this was a routine for everyone or just anyone affiliated with the Mets that had to be screened in such a way, maybe my 50th Anniversary pin set off a red flag. From there I checked in and was told to wait for a member of the Highlander security force who would then escort me to the Audi Club.

As the Highlander constable along with a rep from Dunkin Donuts walked me to the club, the DD rep asked me if I was impressed with the way the suite numbers were named after Highlander players who wore that corresponding number, I just looked at her and said, “I’m here as a Mets blogger so I couldn’t care less” to which she started staring at the carpet like she lost a quarter and the Highlander constable started talking in his wrist. Still the long journey continued until finally we hit Yonkers where I believe the Audi club is located.

There I was surrounded by Dunkin Donuts coffees, both hot and cold and so many donuts that I thought of dialing 911 to alert Mayor Bloomberg of the felonious assault by calorie in progress at the Audi club. I grabbed an iced coffee and headed to the area where the presser was to be held. To my surprise, this wasn’t a bloggers/writers event; it was more of an owner/operator of a Dunkin Donuts event.

As Terry Collins and Joe Girardi are introduced, I see Girardi is wearing his Highlander home jersey, just the jersey not full uni and Collins is wearing his “business casual” sport coat slacks and open collar shirt as he said he knew that a Mets jersey is not a welcome site around here. That kind of pissed me off, I would have loved for him to come in in full uni or at least his Mets warm up and cap just to make a statement and stop giving in to the Mets are the step child bullshit that’s allowed to go unchallenged. It got my blood boiling enough to go on a bit of rant that I thought may have gotten myself an early exit from the event.

There weren’t any main stream media at this unveiling of Collins and Giraridi as spokesmen for Dunkin Donuts ice coffee it seems Girardi reps the iced caramel and Collins the ice moca, and the fact that the team that wins the Subway Series that manager will received a $25,000 donation to their favorite charity. When it was brought up that the teams could split the series 3-3, the DD execs looked confused and a bit embarrassed and gave the” we’ll come up with something” answer. How about giving both managers $25k a piece? For what they charge for a dozen donuts I’m sure it’s doable.

So after a lot of playful banter between the managers, the floor was open to questions. Myself and the few other bloggers (I didn’t see anyone I’ve met before but there was one other Mets blogger there or at least one other person asking Terry Collins questions besides me) were off to each side of Collins and Girardi but we had to fight for Q & A time with the fans in attendance so it was time to get aggressive.

I’ve mentioned a few times here that of all the people I’ve met and had a chance to talk to at Citi Field, Terry Collins is the only one who intimidates me, well after yesterday I think I’m over that. I think it was the location Highlander Stadium and the fact just about everyone in the room was a Highlander supporter, that I started to assert my Mets blogger self.  While most of the questioners were raising their hands to ask questions I had enough and just called out to Collins and have him look my way so I can get some queries in.  I ask about Jason Bay and his availability for last night’s game and Collins told me he’s be in the lineup he wouldn’t tell me where in the lineup as I guess he didn’t spring it on Bay that he was batting 8th  , at 11 Am,  I followed up with where will he play LF or DH and was told LF. I then continued my bogarting of the event by asking about Omar Quintanilla’ fractured  finger and my new obsession, when Ruben Tejada will return as the everyday shortstop. Collins gave a look of “yo ixnay on the injuries-ay” and the rest of the attendees were like yeah enough with the Mets questions. Well too damn bad ! I don’t care about David Robinson or Brent Gardner on the DL or how many home runs Curtis Granderson will hit (Girardi is a baseball manger folks not a goddamn fortune teller) so have some fucking manners, let me get my Mets questions in and then you can go back to your inane Highlander inquires about the style of underwear Derek Jeter wears.

I asked Collins about David Wright and how it seems that now that he is the most tenured Mets player he has taken his leadership in the clubhouse up a notch. Collins agreed saying that his treatment of the young players is fantastic and when other players see his work ethic and preparation they follow suit. I then inquired about Ike Davis and if there was anything he has seen in his last few games that would lead him to believe that Davis is ready to break out of this horrendous start. Collins gave a politicians answer going on how Ike’s teammates are behind him and how he’s working so hard to get back to where the club feels he should be but nothing on if Collins thinks he’s ready to bust out. After watching Ike last night it’s going to be a very hard sell by the front office to keep him on the big league roster. Whatever it is, losing most of the last season to injury or the bout of Valley Fever, Ike’s not right and has become an almost automatic out at the plate.

The last question of the session came from a Highlander blogger I believe (I’m kicking myself in the ass for not asking his name and who what site he wrote for) who asked Joe Girardi if he could do something to help the Highlander Bloggers  get access to the team. Girardi had no idea what he was talking about he told the blogger he has no control over who what or where when it comes to media access. At that point I had to give the Mets props and tell the audience that the Mets have been very gracious in letting me and other bloggers have access to Collins and his players and how fortunate we are that they give us the opportunity. Up yours NY Highlanders brass!!!

When the Q & A broke up, the Highlander blogger came over to me and said how he wished the Highlander’s would follow the Mets line of working with the bloggers. I said to him “The Highlanders are run by a bunch stuffed shirt tight asses who have no use for social media” I guess I said that a bit too loud as the Highlander constable started to walk towards me, I just put up my hand and said “it’s fine, I’ll show myself out” with that I grabbed another free iced coffee and head for the downtown 4 train. My work there was done.

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MONEY, WE’LL GET BACK I’M ALLRIGHT JACK KEEP YOU HANDS OFF OF MY CAP

Cap-gate just won’t go away, now that all parties involved are in full CYA(Cover Your Ass) mode. Reports today claim Bud Selig is outraged, outraged I tell you, that MLB is being viewed as the villain here. Selig feels he was betrayed by Mets management over this awful publicity claiming that LB told the Mets way in advance that the New Era $36.99 retail caps with the American flag sown in Taiwan must be worn as the game day cap. Ooops someone forgot to tell the players that.

Then we find out that Jeffey Skill Sets was on the horn with the Commissioner’s office ( I guess Freddy and Uncle Saul were playing in a Maj Jong tournament down at the beach club, leaving a boy to do a man’s job) and as all things involving Jeffey, a bit of a cluster fuck ensued. My guess is Jeffey thought because Uncle Bud is tight with Daddy and Uncle Saul, he’d tell the players that the organization would be met with a heavy penalty if they wore the caps.  But Uncle Bud claims “no way” that he would have taken action against the Mets via fines or any other punishment. Well, Uncle Bud didn’t say it, his mouth piece ,Clueless Joe Torre did as he made the rounds on the radio to defend MLB but instead came off as a shill for the Commissioners office instead.

Then we have the players, and my question is how is Josh Thole the Mets player rep? Here is a young guy just his first full year in the big leagues trying to adjust to big league life and has to be the union rep as well. Not for anything but David Wright can you please step up in that clubhouse for once in your Mets life. Wright does a lot of marvelous charity work and is to be commended but how about stepping up and not leaving tough team decisions to a kid who is trying to hang on to a big league job. I feel for Thole as he is not in a position to take a stand as he can be sent back to the minors at any time but Wright, it would have been nice if he stood up and said “Fuck this, put the hats on fellas’ and let’s go” it would have gone down as one of the great moments in Mets history.

Now we come to the manager who made be starting to show a little bit of wear and tear from a difficult season. Seems he’s put the blame on Cap-gate as the reason the Mets were not focused last night against the Nats. Last night’s starter, Old Reliable R.A. Dickey said that as far as the players were concerned the cap controversy had nothing to do with the loss or team focus.  I think the woeful play is more the fact that this was a game played by two teams that are playing out the string and are counting the days until they can go home and enjoy the fall and winter. Collins using the cap controversy is a cop out and as much as I feel he has done a great job this season and deserves  an extra year on his contract, it’s situations like this that make me feel that his tenure as Mets manager could fall fast and furious.

Hopefully this cap-a-skew is behind the team and they can get on finishing off the season on a high note and hopefully the manager can calm down a bit and not find excuses for losses.

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ALL FOR ONE, AND ONE FOR ALL

Just back from Brooklyn and threaten my kids that I’m selling our house and moving back to Bay Ridge. The best part of where I live on Staten Island is it’s only five miles from Bay Ridge and that softens the blow of not living in my home boro.

I am reading The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Veducci (thank you Doubleday) and what Torre talks about in the beginning of the book when he took over the team was how he pushed the point of team or individual exactly what Jerry Manuel has set out to do this spring with the Mets. Torre goes on to say that was the difference between the Highlander teams of the late 90’s to the teams he had from 2002 to 2007 there was not that focus on doing what was best for the team over what looked better on the players stat sheet. Sometimes that gets lost in all the numbers and sabermetrics that consume baseball today. I have no problem with the stats and studies in fact I am hoping by tomorrow that the mail man brings me my 2009 Baseball Prospectus, but what gets lost in those numbers sometimes is the things that make teams winners. Hitting behind runners, taking an extra base on a hit, hitting the cut off man and the cut off man catching the ball in the right position to make a throw to hold or throw out a runner, pitchers hitting their spots and picking up a teammate kind of gets lost in the numbers. I’m glad to see J-Man trying to bring that back to the Mets.

Happy Birthday to Faith and Fear in Flushing Keep up the great work !!!

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