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Terry’s Jubilee

Clearly the Terry Collins era should be sponsored by an energy drink. Let’s hope it’s not Four Loko.

I watched our new manager’s literally bouncy introductory press conference [1] and came away with one overwhelming impression: “This dude is into it.” If he was worried about being identified as laconic, I think he’s got that licked. A little vigor won’t be a bad thing for the Mets, though when he’s setting positive examples by running through walls, he should only remember to ease up before storming into 126th Street traffic.

While he bounced, Terry (we’re on a first-name basis already) said all the right things. Of course he said all the right things. If he used the occasion of his coronation to say the wrong things, then we’d really be in Blackout in a Can [2] territory. There were some clichés about pitching and teaching. He handled the now requisite limited-perspective question about Chinese ballplayers skillfully (given his WBC experience, he is the right person to ask). He complimented the young Mets as some of the most polite fellers he’s ever had the pleasure of encountering on the diamond. He indicated he’ll communicate better than he did during his infamous stint [3] with the Angels. And, in that vein, he declared he’s not the devil [4].

Didn’t seem devilish, though as Albert Brooks suggested in Broadcast News, the devil probably won’t have a long, red, pointy tail; rather he’ll look like William Hurt. Terry Collins doesn’t look like William Hurt, which is neither here nor there except to note that when you stick a baseball jersey over a suited 61-year-old man and top him with a baseball cap, it’s hard to concentrate on anything he’s saying, even about polite young Mets, talented Asian ballplayers or his non-devilish tendencies. All you can think is, ”Why do they make these guys wear suits if they’re going to pose them in jerseys?” and “Connie Mack had the right idea about eschewing the uniform when he was managing the Philadelphia A’s.”

The ritual of the offseason press conference seems to be evolving before and away from our eyes. The only non-broadcast reporter who asked anything for the cameras was the Chinese Media Net lady. All the usual wise guy print suspects (if you read the beat writers’ Tweets, you know what I mean) remained silent until they conducted their own mini press conference [5] after Collins left the podium. Not being on-site for this event, I assume this arrangement is beneficial for the working media, though it makes for pretty deadly TV. I’m far more interested in hearing what Adam Rubin and David Waldstein — to name two dedicated Mets reporters — might tease out of Collins than listening to Russ Salzberg make certain Russ Salzberg’s voice is properly recorded for Russ Salzberg’s sportscast tonight.

Sandy Alderson spent valuable face time with Kevin Burkhardt for the benefit of those of us in the SNY audience. He is surely a different breed of cat from every general manager I’ve experienced in my Met lifetime. Everybody since Bob Scheffing — even lugubrious Steve Phillips — seemed like a Baseball Man. Alderson no doubt knows his baseball, but in his standup he mostly came off as a CEO who pencils you in for fifteen professional, reasonably substantive minutes and will forget about you before he’s onto his next meeting. He looks like he handles people in a way Omar Minaya never could have had he wanted. Definitely gave me the impression he has better things to do than talk to Kevin Burkhardt. It’s the same sensation I’ve gotten from interviewing corporate titans who have definitely given me the impression they had better things to do than talk to me.

Like any savvy bigwig, Sandy indeed has loads of pressing business on his plate. He’s got to fill out that coaching staff (HoJo’s gone) and tend to the bullpen (Valdes is a Cardinal and Feliciano will be offered arbitration) and, if we’re fortunate, work a miracle or two. Collins, meanwhile, can lose the suit, adjust his cap, tuck in his No. 10 jersey — chosen to honor erstwhile Met nemesis Jim Leyland [6] though it’s eerily reminiscent of deep-seated Met nightmare Jeff Torborg — and bounce toward the east coast of Florida with a spring in his step.

Traditionally when I watch the Mets in official newsmaking mode, I find myself somewhere between inconsolable and queasy when it’s over. Today I’m modestly energized and unusually undisgusted. This could very well represent progress.