When I got the job in Anaheim, Bill Bavasi, who was the general manager said, you hire whoever you want to hire, and I said, well, I always thought it was important to interviews guys within the organization. I think as a longtime Minor League guy it was one of the things I thought was important, to show the guys in the Minor Leagues, hey, look, there's a future. So I asked Billy to give me names of guys that were in the organization, and Joe had been on the Major League staff the year before, Eddie Rodriguez, a couple guys. So when I went through the interviewing process with those guys, I was extremely impressed with his organization, his preparation, his thoughts.
Back then bench coaches were kind of just guys you'd run an idea by. They really didn't have a huge input. It was also the start of the computer age in baseball, and Joe was into the computers. So when I interviewed him, his organization and his preparation and his personality, I said, this is the guy.
I talked to some of the players at my press conference when I got the job, and his name was brought up by players, which means a lot to me at the Major League level, because again, here's a guy who wasn't a Major League player but got the respect of the players on the team.
So I hired him as the bench guy, and I used him like I think bench coaches should be used, and they should be used today. Always had an idea, always had a thought, and obviously nobody is more thrilled than I was when he finally got his chance in Tampa Bay because we became very good friends, and I relied on him a lot, and obviously he's become extremely successful, and I'm real, real happy for him and real proud of him.
Q. I'm hoping you can take me through, back in 1969 --
TERRY COLLINS: 1969? People in this room weren't even born in 1969.
Q. But you were at Eastern Michigan playing ball at that time, and I'm just wondering what you remember from that time of the Mets and the Cubs, as a baseball fan at that time, if you remember that race and you remember the Mets specifically --
TERRY COLLINS: I was trying to graduate from college. I don't remember any races at that particular time.
Q. Do you see parallels between those two teams?
TERRY COLLINS: I have no idea, believe me. That was the '60s (laughter). I was worried about going to war more than anything else.
No, I'm sorry, I've got to tell you, I was a baseball fan but I was probably a Tigers fan way back then. I'm sorry I can't answer that one.
Q. With what Harvey has gone through all season, how do you think he's weathered it with the recuperating from the Tommy John and all the stuff that he's gone through to get to this point where he's starting the NLCS for you?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I mean, physically I think he's fine, and I think right now mentally I think he's fine.
Obviously what he went through in the last month has been difficult for him because deep inside, this guy is a tremendous competitor, and he loves to be -- he loves to be in the big games. And so when it worked out the other day, when we knew we were going to have to play Game 5 against the Dodgers, he was the first guy in my office wanting to pitch in Game 5. I told him that was probably not going to happen unless we went to extra innings or we needed somebody to give us a couple innings in a game that we had to win. But I said, right now I have you pitching the first game of the NLCS if we get there. Big smile on his face, and he said, okay, I'll be ready.
So I think it's the right choice. I think he's ready for it. I know physically his arm is fine, and hopefully, again, a little bit more consistent routine, I think he'll pitch well.
Q. Terry, the lack of success you guys had against the Cubs obviously came earlier in the year. Does the fact that two teams have changed so much since then, does that kind of nullify the 0-7 record you have against them or is there any concern that you guys have --
TERRY COLLINS: No, we played good -- I think we're a different team for sure. I think we're a different team. But they've got a good club. They've had a good club. They play very well. They played us extremely well. They have for two years.
We've got a lot of work ahead. I mean, their team has changed. They've got a few new guys, but we're still going to see John Lester and Jake Arrieta, who are two very, very good pitchers. We just went through that with the Dodgers, so we've got to get ourselves ready, but we're a different lineup, too. We're looking forward to it. Again, I think postseason is a whole different game than it is in the regular season, you know, just by the way you work some guys.
We'll hopefully play better than we did during the season.
Q. Beyond Harvey Game 1, is the correct order Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz?
TERRY COLLINS: No.
Q. Can you share the correct order?
TERRY COLLINS: No, I don't have a Game 2 guy yet.
Q. I think you said yesterday you didn't think Juan Uribe was available. Is that correct he's not available?
TERRY COLLINS: I have not had one report that Juan Uribe has done any baseball, physical activities at all. He's been getting therapy, but I have not gotten one report where he has taken any batting practice or any ground balls, so my guess is he's not ready to play.
Q. For those of us on the East Coast last night, can you kind of just take us through your emotions immediately after the last out and kind of what inspired you to do the slapping hands and hugging fans along the Mets' dugout there?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, first of all, I'll start with the second part. One of the things that I saw when I first came to the New York Mets, we have a fan base everywhere. Everywhere. And so you're at Dodger Stadium last night with 56,000 people, and about 2,000 Mets fans, who when that game was over, came down behind our dugout and cheered everything these guys did. I thought they deserved a little recognition.
You know, I thought it was -- but we had just won Game 5. I was pretty happy. I know for a lot of guys in here that happens all the time. It doesn't happen a lot to me. So I was pretty excited about it. To see the looks on some of those guys' faces, and you walk out on the field, and I mean, you couldn't have been happier for Jeurys Familia, and the job that Jake deGrom did was incredible. So I was happy. You know, unfortunately once in a while, you let the emotions get out, and I'll try to behave better next time. (Laughter.)
Q. Terry, your team has come back numerous times when things looked dark, at their darkest. When you talked to your players, they say in Spring Training you guys talked about the ups and downs of a baseball season, both the young guys and the vets. Do you remember those conversations, and do you guys tap back into what those conversations actually meant?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't know if we tapped back into them, but the conversations were pretty plain and simple: You've got to have great character to play this game. I think the teams that are -- that have the most success, there's tremendous character in the clubhouse because you've got to have that to be able to deal with the ups and downs here. You know, and I think that's why it was talked about, we feel we had it. Obviously during the season when you lose the likes of David for a period and you lose Cuddyer and you lose some of the big pieces, someone else has to step up and take those roles, and we had them. We had those guys.
And I think, again, when Juan Uribe came in, I think the character, his presence in our clubhouse lightened it up, and even though we played better because he helped us offensively, I think his presence in there emotionally helped us a little bit.
For me, you know, it was a matter of the tremendous leadership that took place in that clubhouse to keep us on an even keel because I'll go back, if we couldn't have kept this thing afloat in June, we wouldn't have got those guys in July. But I think that was, to me, the turning point of the season is when things looked the gloomiest in June, those guys rose up and kept their head above water because of the leadership.
Q. Looking towards Game 1, you guys haven't stolen that many bases this year. It hasn't been part of your makeup very much, but Lester's struggles with runners on base are no secret. I was wondering if you would think about changing your approach, either.
TERRY COLLINS: Koufax didn't do a good job, either, with guys on base because nobody ever got on, and Jon Lester is a similar guy. You've got to get on to steal, and we don't have a lot of speed. Again, you get on against Jon Lester and you start stealing with guys who aren't real good at stealing, you run yourself out of innings. So we'll pick and choose our moments if we get anybody on to decide how we want to handle it. But we are not a base-stealing team by any means.
Q. You guys have made three cross-country trips in a very short period of time. The Cubs finished up Wednesday; they've rested. Are you concerned about a fatigue factor and perhaps the opposition having an advantage based on logistics?
TERRY COLLINS: We're tired. I mean, I put my head on the pillow this morning at 9:30 and got to be here now. So that's hard. But we've got a night off, and this place is going to be fueled with a lot of energy tomorrow night. I think we'll be able to use that as a little medicine to find some extra adrenaline for sure.
Q. Do you plan on pitching Matt more than Game 1 this series?
TERRY COLLINS: Absolutely.
Q. Saying you don't have a Game 2 starter, is it really how Syndergaard feels in the next day or two?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, that is exactly what's happened. His last time he pitched, the second day he was still pretty sore. You know, of all the guys, I'm certainly well aware that I got him up four times last night. You could almost say he got ready four times. That could have almost been five innings of work because I knew he threw over 100 pitches warming up. So if he's still tender tomorrow, he's probably not going to be Game 2 guy. That's why I say I don't have one at the moment.
Q. You've talked about him all year, how impressed you are with him, but when a guy has his first postseason series, faces 16 batters and retires every one of them, does that even surprise you that a first-time guy can have that kind of success in such a spot?
TERRY COLLINS: It does, it really is, and that's why, again, you look at all the things we went through, and some of them guys went up above and beyond what you expected. He was one of those guys.
I went to him yesterday in the outfield during batting practice and said if we have a one-run lead in the eighth inning, you're in the game, and Bartolo Colon was standing with hi as he always is, and he goes, by all means, he'll be ready, and he was, and that was the game plan from the start. And you know, those guys and the way they execute make you look real smart, but he was ready to go from the middle of the afternoon on.
But he was outstanding the whole series.
Q. Am I correct that Tejada was not at Dodger Stadium and would you expect him at the home games and not the road games this series?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, I would expect him to be here. He was not in Los Angeles, no.
Q. Just the home games throughout the series?
TERRY COLLINS: I would think so, yeah.
Q. What are your options if not Syndergaard?
TERRY COLLINS: Steven Matz.
Q. You were careful all year with the young pitchers, and I'm sure you still are, but is there any worry about as good as their arms might feel, just how they physically can withstand pitching more than they're used to, whether it's Harvey or any of the other younger guys kind of in these uncharted waters?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, that's been the whole concern all summer. I mean, we took a lot of heat all summer long because of the way we handled some of these young pitchers and their workloads. We've been planning on playing in the postseason since March, and so it was all about making sure they're going to be okay, and that's why we skipped them, that's why we rested them, that's why we took them out of games with lower pitch counts because we knew that down the line we were going to need that extra energy. So yes, there's concerns, but this is who we've got, and those are still our best options.
So I think that, you know what, if we decide tomorrow that if Noah comes in and he says, look, I feel great, I'm ready to go, we've got to decide are we overdoing it by pitching him or should we just say, look, listen to him, believe in him and pitch him. Those are all the decisions that make it hard when you try to take care of your pitching the way we think we've tried to take care of ours.