Why Not Blame the Manager?

So here’s what I thought about last night: Why do we think of managerial ejections as positives? Or rather, why do we see what a team does after a manager leaves as a positive reflection, and not a negative one?

In the first inning of last night’s game, Terry Collins was ejected by home plate umpire Doug Eddings, after Collins incessantly argued a clearly blown foul tip call. From the moment he left the dugout, he appeared intent getting himself tossed — he never visibly lost his cool, but did seem intent on overstaying his welcome at home plate, to the point that it was actually a little awkward. After Collins was tossed, Chris Capuano again struck out Angel Sanchez and was on target all night. Mike Nickeas, David Wright, and Ike Davis all hit home runs, and the Mets cruised in for 9-1 victory. It wasn’t all good — Angel Pagan pulled a side muscle, meaning the starting outfield of Jason Bay, Pagan, and Carlos Beltran was together for all of 5 innings before something happened — but it was mostly all good.

So the story this morning seems to be that Collins was ejected last night, and his spiraling team pulled out a win. That’s the usual narrative drawn here. But let me play devil’s advocate with this, if only because that’s a boring narrative.

Let’s pretend — I don’t actually think any of this, but just play along — all the Mets’ players are terrified of Terry Collins.  Consider how tightly wound Collins appears, the exasperated faces he makes in the dugout, and the way he reportedly cussed out Daniel Murphy the other night. He’s a vaguely intimidating guy, so it’s not a stretch to suggest he could make his players nervous about screwing up. Reading last night this way, Collins’ ejection might have been a welcomed occurrence. Maybe they can’t stand the guy. Everyone can relax without crazy Collins looming, and chill Uncle Oberkfell gets to take over for a bit — imagine Terry Collins as Sally Fields and Ken Oberkfell as Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” if you will. The team plays loose and relaxed, and the Mets win a blowout.

I don’t actually think that’s what happened. But that said, I don’t necessarily see how “liberation from hated manager sparks players” is any less plausible than “beloved manager’s ejection fires up players.” So while giving credit to Collins makes sense, placing blame on Collins could make as much sense.

Or maybe the Mets won because Capuano pitched well, and the offense (unsurprisingly) ate up the lefty J.A. Happ. There are always a lot of ways to look at it.

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