NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Over the span of a single week in November, Terry Collins lost a pair of friends he had known since grammar school. As he mourned them, Collins, 67, got to thinking. He wondered about his own future. He considered the rest of his life.
"All of a sudden you're looking in the mirror saying, 'Holy cow,'" Collins said. "When the season is over, I will sit down -- and hopefully it's in November next year -- and analyze where I'm at. Because I still feel great. I've got a lot of energy. But I don't know if it's going to be there or not, have to wait and see."
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Entering his seventh season at the helm of the Mets, Collins is already the third-winningest manager in franchise history. He is one of only two to guide the team to consecutive playoff appearances, with a realistic chance to make it three in a row next year. By late May, Collins will become the most-tenured Mets manager in franchise history. And he may report to Spring Training with his best roster to date, featuring a National League Cy Young Award candidate in Noah Syndergaard, an NL MVP Award hopeful in Yoenis Cespedes and a cadre of other talented players.
Winning the World Series with that bunch is a big deal to Collins, who until last year had never even reached the playoffs over four decades in professional baseball.
But enjoying his golden years is also a priority. Collins won't wait around forever for a payoff he knows only a select few reach.
"All of us standing here today -- who knows if we're all going to be here next year?" he said Tuesday at his annual Winter Meetings address. "You don't. I think at the end of the year, you sit down and analyze how you are, how you feel, especially when you are 67 years old."
Perhaps no manager appreciates his job more than Collins, a baseball lifer who believed he would never receive another opportunity following barren stints in Houston and Anaheim during the 1990s. Time in Japan and as a farm director, then four consecutive losing seasons with the Mets only heightened Collins' gratitude for the opportunity that stands before him.
The Mets, for their part, are guaranteeing Collins nothing beyond this year, the final one on his contract. But the goal for all parties remains the same, regardless of what the future brings for Collins.
Win now. Figure the rest out later.
"Until you get to the World Series, you don't know how much fun it is," Collins said. "We're hungry, and I think that's going to show when we take the field in Spring Training. The energy is going to be back, the hunger is going to be back."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.