Last week during our Kiner’s Korner Kult of Mets Personalities podcast (starring Matty Faz, Nik Kolidas, Gene and yours truly), our esteemed host took me by surprise and asked if I thought that Mets manager Terry Collins — with his fiery spirit that I reported on after attending an event at CitiField last month — could be like a New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan-type for the Mets…of course, without the bravado and smack-talk.
I had to think. Quite frankly, it’s one thing for the Jets, a young and up-and-coming team, to run their mouths. If I hear something stupid cliched thing out of David Wright’s mouth during camp, I’ll…ahem. I digress. Anyway, my point is, I was taken aback, because, well…I hadn’t thought of Collins as a Rex Ryan type or even a Rex Ryan-lite, which was how I described him.
Sure, I see the young guys, and even the vets, responding to him prior to even taking the field with him as manager. Much like Rex Ryan. But it bothered me that I agreed to it so quickly…because I had another head coach of another one of my beloved teams whom Terry Collins could DEFINITELY be compared to. And that’s John Tortorella of the New York Rangers.
I attended a Rangers subscriber event last week with a friend of mine, and several players did a Q&A, much like the Mets event I attended in December. Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal were there to name a few (of course, this could all mean nothing if you are not a hockey fan). Now, I forget who said it, but when a fan in the audience asked about the head coach “Torts” as we like to call him, I believe it was Callahan who said that Tortorella is giving them the “Rangers Way” to play.
The Rangers Way. The Jets Way. Even, (blech) the Yankees Way. You hear several teams give their ethos but you never hear anything from the Mets, and even if they do allude that there is a certain “way” of conducting business on and off the field, chances are, they never adhere to it and we just laugh at the notion of it anyway.
However, I think there is an element of truth to that. See, the Mets haven’t had a steady way or any sense of function within the organization since the days of Frank Cashen. Hell, even then the ornery old man took the ship down with him when he left. I guess, he didn’t want them to be successful. Or that he was just mad that the ownership was meddlesome when they promised him they would be as laissez-faire as a Republican administration.
Sandy Alderson is making it a point to not make rash decisions and testing the waters before making a move. I have to agree that this is a safe course of action because right now, Mets stock is at an all-time low. If we are the adhere to the adage of “Buy Low/Sell High” then he’s absolutely making the right decision in waiting it out to see if there is any value in trading those once their value is lifted.
But the other thing that Alderson has been entrusted to do is craft an ethos, a “Mets Way” of competing, a “Mets Way” of being organized and position themselves for success in the future. Collins is the man who needs to set this message down on the ground level, meaning for the players who are the faces of the franchise, who are putting forth the “Mets Way” of performing.
I didn’t think Rex Ryan was a suitable comparison for Terry Collins, even a “lite” version. John Tortorella walks the walk, and talks the talk. I remember when he was brought on by Glen Sather, my dad sent me a message and said, “This guy will have them doing push-ups when they aren’t performing.”
I could totally see Collins having Jose Reyes do a Willie “Mays” Hayes after popping up…well, maybe not THAT drastic. But he could seriously get the guys to respond to him. When I attended this function, Carlos Beltran said in so many words that if Collins took one for the team in getting thrown out, that he had the manager’s back. I’m sure that if Jerry Manuel or Willie Randolph (as infrequent as that may have been) were thrown out, the rest of the team was probably happy to show them the showers.
For a long time, the Mets have had the semblance of order or direction but the fact is, they couldn’t have been more off the mark. Each time they’d seem to take one step forward, they’d take two giant leaps back with making progress. Omar Minaya wasn’t even guilty of this, this can be predated to the Al Harazin days. Sterling Mets must be mortified that for such successful investors over the years, their one glaring mistake — their association with Bernie Madoff — has marred their success…but the Mets are their most visible arm of their conglomerate and it needs to have the right people running it. Perhaps they are finally, seeing the light.
John Tortorella, in his quest for conducting business the “Rangers Way,” has the respect of his players, they want to play for him and go above and beyond. They are a young, hard-working and scrappy team. The Mets can still do this, if they have the right leadership in the clubhouse and at the top.
Terry Collins could be that guy.
As Sammy Hagar once said, only time will tell if we stand the test of time…or will fully be the key to our understanding if there is a Mets Way implemented. But that’s the one thing that has been sorely lacking, along with a plan and a winning season.
Can we have it all in 2011? Or start to, at least?