By Omar Kelly
Tribune Staff Writer
When Terry Collins admitted he thinks about how far the Mets have come in his first month as the team’s skipper, he wasn’t speaking of the short run through the National League Division Series — the Mets’ first-ever home postseason game.
Collins revealed that fact while on hand for Thursday’s Halos media event with Mike Scioscia, the Angels manager. The rest, of course, was just baseball.
The Mets enjoyed themselves last week during a much-needed three-game break in the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Along with a few planned practices, they took advantage of the time with enjoying each other’s company.
Eliminating the remnants of Mo’s fish stick culture, for example.
The Cardinals asked their assistant athletic trainer Lee Burbage to trade in his typical sunglasses and sweats for a headband and a baseball cap because pitchers were dealing with fish stick issues after the rain-delayed, three-hour Game 2 at Citi Field.
When there’s a close shave between victories in postseason games, playing close enough becomes the easiest way to do it.
“It was just a matter of getting caught up with guys and not thinking of that one particular thing and not focusing on that one thing,” Collins said. “It’s easy to think when you get five or six outs, you need to throw a 30-pitch inning. I would much rather say, ‘Hey, if this happens, let’s just keep grinding and the innings will come. Let’s not have panic or anxiety.’ We played much better with the off day.
“When you’ve got that focus on just baseball, then the baseball disappears.”
The focus has vanished to some degree with the series against the Chicago Cubs that begins today in Wrigley Field.
It’s still about winning games, but it could be easier to see the diamond when you’re hanging with club mates from Long Island and having dinner while exploring Chicago proper. Or you could focus on doing some good work and get in some of the right-hander workouts that have been nearly impossible to bring back to the dugout from L.A. after the Dodgers’ last two regular-season series at Dodger Stadium.
It all could set the Mets up with an even better lead heading to Chicago than the one they had heading home last week.
The weather could be similar.