I am Jack’s apathy

Word leaked out yesterday that the Mets will hire Terry Collins to be their next manager, and now a good subsection of the fanbase is furious.

If I had to guess, I’d say all the angry fans fall somewhere on a Venn diagram with three intersecting circles.

In the first circle are the straight-up haters. These are the particularly bizarre fans that will lash out at just about any decision the team makes, no matter how large or small. They are the frustrating — and frustrated — fatalists, certain that the Mets are irreparably broken and no new front-office or roster overhaul will ever make any difference. I suspect some of them may be masochists and take odd pleasure in watching their team struggle.

The second circle is for the irascible Backman lobby. These fans, wooed by the media, by nostalgia or by Wally Backman himself, are certain that Backman — and no one but Backman — should be the Mets’ manager for now and forever, warts and inexperience be damned.

The third and perhaps largest circle belongs to a more reasonable set: The fans who doubt Collins’ ability to helm a Major League team based on his past failures with the Astros and Angels, most notably the miserable turn in 1999 when Mo Vaughn and his teammates in Anaheim petitioned upper management to have Collins relieved of duty.

Sometimes I get fired up over what I think are bad decisions, or the perpetuation of what I believe are fallacies or just dumb ideas. In this particular case, though — even after reading the reactions of the Mets fans who seem so incredibly mad — I find it difficult to muster up any emotion at all. Perhaps some entertained bewilderment about how people could get so angry over what will likely be an innocuous but informed decision made by reasonable men to fill an overrated position.

It’s not that I don’t harbor any doubts about Collins, either. It’s just that the almost unbelievable gusto with which some fans are decrying the decision, for whatever reason, leaves me feeling numb.

But if I could gather those angry fans and somehow prevent them from rioting long enough to talk to them, I’d probably ask this: Do you believe that people can change?

And that’s not a rhetorical question. I’m actually curious. Tons of people seem willing to argue otherwise based on old maxims — “A leopard can’t change his stripes” — as if just because something has been stated a billion times it must be true.

The fatalists, by definition, likely believe people cannot change, so they think Jeff Wilpon will never improve in his role as Mets’ COO, Sandy Alderson will still look for juiced-up players capable of smashing 50+ homers and Terry Collins will inevitably alienate the clubhouse with his alpha-male attitude. I don’t think I’ll be able to convince those people otherwise, so if by some chance you’ve found you’re way here and you’re one of them, please click away. I appreciate the traffic, but there’s nothing for you here. Try to enjoy your weird life.

The Backmanites and the reasonable doubters, though, must at least be open to the idea. After all, one of the main tenets of the Backman Lobby stated that Backman not only has changed from the man whose legal and financial troubles lost him a managerial position in Arizona, but would be willing to change again to fall in line with Alderson’s presumed organizational philosophy.

And if your doubts are only the reasonable ones, and you consider yourself to be a reasonable person, I follow up: Do you try to change? Do you work out to get in better shape, or read to learn more about the world, or consider your mistakes to avoid repeating them?

I sure do. Maybe I’m just self-conscious, and maybe my efforts to better myself are in vain and pathetic. But to me it seems downright arrogant, stubborn and small-minded to think, “well, this is how I am and the way I came out of the womb. If people don’t like it, so be it.”

Maybe Terry Collins thinks that way. I don’t know. I had one ten-minute conversation with the man and he really didn’t seem like it, but one ten-minute conversation is probably not the best way to judge a man’s character. Maybe he’ll take command of the Mets and repeat all the mistakes of his past. Maybe he learned nothing from his stints in Houston and Anaheim and his DUI arrest in 2002.

I’m not arguing, of course, that someone’s history should be entirely ignored when considering him for a job. That’d be crazy, like penciling in Jeff Francoeur for right field in 2011 and thinking, “hey, maybe he’s different now; maybe he learned to lay off bad pitches.” You, me, Terry Collins, Jeff Francoeur, we face uphill battles when we try to change our most deeply ingrained ways.

But I think, with an open mind and dedication, we can. And I would hope that if Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco sat down with Collins for multiple hour-long interviews, they asked him if he learned from his prior stints and left satisfied that he did.

John Steinbeck:

‘Thou mayest!’ Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win. … It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice!

17 thoughts on “I am Jack’s apathy

  1. One thing that makes me worry a bit less is “Mo Vaughn and his teammates in Anaheim petitioned upper management to have Collins relieved of duty”.

    Key word Mo Vaughn. Most fans, especially the Wally crowd want a guy with fire, a no nonsense no BS, whip this team into shape kind of guy right? Well thats Collins too. Collins is basically from what I’ve read a more experienced Backman if you will from a personality standpoint.

    I think that type of attitude always has the potential to be volitile in the wrong situation and mix of players. Mo Vaughn especially, a high priced recently paid, lazy, fat DH, was spearheading the ouster of a non BS no nonsense manager? Thinking about it, am I really surprised by that? WHat caused that mess was probably just Collins exhibiting all the qualities that Mets fans are looking for, just in the wrong situation on LA.

  2. You know, it’s kind of arrogant to create a Venn diagram and assign motivations for large groups of fans – putting yourself in the sane, rational category.

    I’m not a hater. I think the Wilpons did a great job with Citi Field. I’ve been a fan since ’69 and want the team to improve desperately.

    But this is just a horrendous swing and miss – after all the song a dance and worship at the altar of Alderson – all the talk of change – we get….Terry Collins, who pisses off players and quits. It seems, in a very weird way, like it was *designed* to piss off the fanbase.

  3. +1
    Nothing I’ve heard about Collins to this point would raise a significant red flag for me. Including the Anaheim thing.
    Is there uncertainty? Sure, but thats always true when evaluating the future. If I’m ever absolutely certain about something its usually because I don’t have all the information or because I’m letting emotion make the call.

    In the end you have to trust managements process vetted all the available information as best as possible and that this was the best decision based on their judgement. End of story.

    On another note, love that particular FC reference. It gets heavy use from me to this day.

  4. kudos on the fight club reference.

    I’m apathetic to the choice myself. I’m just glad it’s not Manuel, and that in it of itself is a big improvement. I’m disturbed about Warthen possibly staying though. And I’m not ready to annoint Sandy as a savior or a guy that is always forward thinking and never makes mistakes.

    This “Sandy hired him, so he must be good” stuff doesn’t fly with me. But he seems reasonable, so lets sign some players and see if he can keep them from sputtering.

  5. Also of note, Terry Collins was the finalist for the Manager search in the 2004-2005 off-season. Willie Randolph beat him out.
    I guess it was destiny and it was inevitable!
    Or maybe the organization sees something in him that 6 years later he’s being re-considered by a different group of people.

  6. I almost think the Anaheim thing is a plus. You can learn a lot from failure, often more than you can from success.

    If I asked him about it in an interview and he blustered about that a** Mo Vaughn, I wouldn’t hire him. If he talked about the dynamics of what happened and what he’d learned about how he could handle similar situations differently, I’d count that as likely to make him a better manager than a Backman, who’s never faced a complete and total meltdown of a situation.

  7. I basically share your apathy, but to expand upon Ceetar’s point above, I’m getting a little nervous about that “in Sandy we trust” thing that’s starting to develop. Nothing wrong with having a little faith in the people we wanted to have the job in the first place, but I’m also close to the situation here in DC where they seemed to repeat the “in Shanallahan we trust” (Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan) mantra even as they repeatedly made very questionable personnel moves. I’m just hoping that my own lack of concern about this hiring is not out of some cockeyed optimism regarding our new management.

  8. Well Shanahan made some moves which raise alarm due to the tangible results on the field. Going bats**t at Alderson before the roster is assembled, let alone a single game played is just nonsense.

  9. Backman might just be a good manager.

    But the public support for him over the other candidates, with his history, his lack of experience and the fact that NO TEAM has offered him anything since Arizona fired him-to me-is baffling.

  10. I am of your self-described third circle.

    While, yes, I think people can change, what worries me is that this wasn’t a one-off event. Players went through the trouble of petitioning management against him in Anaheim after he lost the clubhouse in Houston. He also quit his gig in Japan. I am not saying I am in a frothy-mouthed rage over this hiring selection, I am just raising an eyebrow here.

    As much as I cling to statistics like Linus with his blanket, on-field managers matter. Since it’s the season, lets take my Detroit Lions and your New York Jets. Good coaching/management does NOT give the third string quarterback a pass option on a naked bootleg after the two minute warning in the fourth quarter when your opponent is behind with no timeouts left. Stanton inexplicably throws an incomplete pass to Jerome Felton, the Lions are forced to punt, and Mark Sanchez marches the luckiest team in the NFL down the field to tie before the whistle. Taking it a seasonal step further–Wade Phillips. Brad Childress. Less seasonal, Willie Randolph. Terry Collins with the Angels.

    As fans, our opinions on management selections are mostly made from voodoo logic. We read a few articles, see some press conferences, and watch the games. We have to blindly infer a lot and do some guesswork on what motivates players we will never know on a personal level. It’s just that the selection of a guy with a questionable clubhouse record to manage a team with proven clubhouse issues seems somewhat curious with the information we have available.

  11. Can people change? It’s a good question.

    I’ve been to many HR seminars for managers over the years, and the resounding answer I’ve gotten from those seminars is that people don’t change, thus the strategy to “hire the personality, teach the skill.”

    So, I dunno, I think I’ve changed over the years. But I guess that central aspects of one’s personality tend not to change much.

    Gosh, I can’t wait for the season to start so we can stop writing posts like this, and instead question the wisdom of managerial moves and stuff like that.

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