Sunday, June 26, 2011

Everything old is new again

Terry Collins, at age 62, qualifies for a senior discount at just about every restaurant and movie theater in this country. But when the National League East managers get together for their regular canasta game these days, he's the one they call "Kid."

Collins may indeed enjoy an early bird special now and then, but he's got nothing on his compatriots at the helm of the other teams in the Mets' division (well, three of them, anyway). The Phillies' Charlie Manuel is 67, new Marlins skipper Jack McKeon is 80, and running the show now for the Washington Nationals is former Mets manager Davey Johnson, who checks in at age 68.

(The Braves' Fredi Gonzalez is essentially the pool boy at age 47. His role at the canasta table is to keep Jack updated on the latest from Hialeah, and fetching Charlie Manuel's gin and tonics.)

You get the feeling that the Mets set a trend with the hiring of Collins. He'd been around a while, had success at other places, but hadn't managed a major league team in a number of years. Ditto McKeon and now Davey J., who of course had a loose hand on the rudder of the Mets' 1986 World Championship team.

Johnson's hiring was particularly reminiscent of Collins', in that he was already working for the Nationals organization as a consultant and knew the players and the system well. Those qualities have certainly seemed to have helped Collins, who has had to manage a number of former minor leaguers filling in for injured starters.

On Sunday, the Mets won another road series, this one against the defending AL champion Rangers. Like Saturday's win, the Mets piled up hits and scored a healthy number of runs without the benefit of the long ball. Jose Reyes continued to rake, getting four hits, including his 14th triple, and three runs. Daniel Murphy stayed hot with three hits, and he and Reyes both made outstanding plays in the field. Carlos Beltran had two RBI.

Dillon Gee overcame a shaky start and lasted six innings, allowing eight hits and two walks, and three runs to improve to 8-1 on the season. The bullpen of Beato, Byrdak and Izzy was perfect. Why they put in K-Rod in a non-save situation is puzzling since he's always terrible, and he made things too interesting before retiring the last three hitters.

Another game finished for K-Rod, who was quoted over the weekend saying he would set up for a contender. Someone should alert K-Rod (and the rest of the New York media, for that matter) that the Mets, even at .500, at 4 1/2 games out of the wild card lead, are, by definition, contenders.

You know Collins considers them contenders, and you know Davey will have the same attitude with the Nationals. McKeon has already benched Hanley Ramirez and mistaken Twitter as the name of a player's dog. Manuel? He's sitting in the catbird seat, his only worries whether Oswalt can stay healthy and what channel Matlock is on when he's on the road.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, barely looks up at the canasta game from his Nintendo DS, white earbuds blaring Arcade Fire as he wonders when these geezers are going to hit the hay so he can play Tour of Duty online without being asked to bring over a walker or light a cigar.

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