Flushing, New York - New York Mets Manager Terry Collins was mad as hell at his team's subpar performance in recent weeks, much of which was caused by his own mistakes. So he called for a special closed-door meeting that excluded the media, the coaching staff and all the players. Then he let himself have it.
"When I shut that door, it finally hit me that all of the fingers were pointing in my direction," Collins said after emerging from his office. "And since all of the fingers were on my two hands, I realized I haven't had a manicure for weeks. It made me mad, and that's when I realized that the meeting was getting out of control."
Reporters waiting outside Collins' office heard plenty of action going on inside. "It sounded like the revenge scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie," one news woman said. "Chairs were flying across the room, computers were knocked to the floor, and liquor bottles were being smashed against the door."
Collins acknowledged his violent reaction. "I really let it all hang out in there. I didn't hold back. But that's what having a closed-door meeting is all about. It's you, a baseball bat and a chance to put a few good swings on your problems."
Without a winning season since 1998, when he was run out of town in Anaheim, Collins coaching style has been described as "a series of missteps followed by a string of blunders." Last week he inexplicably benched one of the Mets' the best sluggers for four games in response to a team-wide offensive slump. He topped that off by failing to challenge an incorrect out call that would've given his team the momentum in a game the Mets ultimately lost.
"I yelled at myself until I was red in the face for that one," Collins said. "After all, they're paying me a million bucks a year here. The least I can do is pay attention with that kind of money on the line."
And money, most analysts say, is at the root of the team's troubles. The Mets simply can't afford to hire major-league caliber players and coaches. Principal owner Fred Wilpon is a close associate of Bernie Madoff, the convicted Ponzi schemer, a connection that has cost him millions. What's worse, Wilpon continues to milk the Mets to settle his Madoff related shortfalls.
That's why the Mets are pinching pennies at every opportunity. For instance, they are the only major league team that reuses its paper cups. "I put the player's initials on each cup at the beginning of the week, and we expect them to last until Sunday, when new cups are handed out," said equipment manager Benny Hoots.
Mets fans are being asked to help out as well. Next month, the team will conduct the first ever Pawn Appreciation Day. Ticketholders who come to Citi Field that day will be asked to bring along a jewelry item (only solid gold or platinum, please) that the Mets can pawn to fund the hiring of a genuine major-league shortstop.
"Who knows? We might even make enough to put a down payment on a real catcher as well," said Mets GM Sandy "Alsoran" Alderson. "Or maybe I'll hire that discipline coach, after I teach her the difference between a dungeon and a dugout."