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Playoff Prospectus: The Lions In Winter—NLCS Game 4

This piece is a preview of a larger recap of the game, by BP’s Jeffrey Paternostro, which first appeared on the Baseball Prospectus main site as part of their “Playoff Prospectus” series. Sadly, it will be the last of its kind involving the Cubs in 2015.¬†We hope you enjoy. Or, at least, don’t cry.

Every baseball fan dislikes his or her manager. He bunts too much. His hook is too slow. Are you kidding me: You didn’t think they’d pinch-hit with Matt Murton when you brought in that side-arming lefty? He benches your favorite young player who has just taken a bad 0fer. He makes jokes about advanced stats. He doesn’t understand leverage like you do.

This is not a defense of Terry Collins. He bunts too much (and the Mets as a team really can’t bunt). He leaves his young starters in a batter or two too long. He chases the platoon advantage at times to his team’s detriment. He has jerked around Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera. He has sat Michael Conforto against every lefty starter. A clearly not right Bobby Parnell got too many high-leverage innings down the stretch.

After 62 years of playing, coaching and managing baseball. Collins will be in the World Series. He has been in New York for five seasons now, accompanied by much moaning from Mets fans. This season Collins passed Gil Hodges in wins as Mets manager. He is now third all-time in franchise history. This made some people apoplectic.

Down in Las Vegas, Wally Backman toiled away. An old school, red ass, dirt dog. He might bunt too much. He would probably ride his starters even harder, and his playing time decisions, even with a Triple-A roster, could be even weirder. But he would fire the boys up, you see.

There is an affection, even a love, in the baseball media for the baseball lifer. There is a muted tragedy inherent in the career minor leaguer, the manager that never makes the playoffs, and Collins is both. Well, was both.

This is Terry Collins’ last managerial job. He likely knew that when he took it. He had two clubhouse mutinies at his last two stops. That didn’t happen this time. He had a horrible collapse down the stretch in his last gig. That didn’t happen this time. And look, he didn’t suddenly turn into Ned Yost or Bruce Bochy in the playoffs. But he made the right calls, kept the ball in the hands of his best pitchers as much as possible, and his players played hard for him. He seems to genuinely appreciate the Mets fanbase, or at least does a credible job of acting like it. He dove into the crowd in Los Angeles, hugging fans. In Chicago he waded in full bore with a bottle of champagne.

It’s hard not to like Terry Collins.

To read the rest of the piece, head on over to Baseball Prospectus.

Lead photo courtesy Caylor Arnold—USA Today Sports.

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