There are few managers or coaches in recent memory who have gotten the town talking the way Terry Collins has, and does, sometimes in good ways, often in bad ways, always in interesting ways.
Saturday, he managed the 1,013th game of his tenure as a Met, one more than Davey Johnson — and maybe a good 500 or 600 more than most folks would’ve set as the “over” when he was hired Nov. 23, 2010. Longevity isn’t a synonym for success, though you rarely achieve any of the former without a whisper of the latter, and Collins is no exception.
With that in mind? Let’s have a go at identifying the nine best coaches and managers in New York’s sporting history. Feedback and rebuttal not only welcome, but encouraged:
Candidates: Gil Hodges (339-309, .523, 1 title), Davey Johnson (595-417, .588, 1 title), Bobby Valentine (536-467, .534)
The best: Hodges, in a close call over Johnson. The only two men to manage the Mets to championships couldn’t have been more different in approach and personality, and both were fits for their times. But the team Hodges managed is still the gold standard for professional sports miracles. That takes it.
Candidates: Joe McCarthy (1,460-867, .627, 7 titles), Casey Stengel (1,149-696, .623, 7 titles), Joe Torre (1,173-767, .605, 4 titles)
The best: Stengel. It is a fun debate because the Yankees were so dominant in all three eras. But McCarthy’s Yankees were so much better than the rest of the American League, while Stengel’s Yankees had stiff challenges during his time from, at varying times, the Indians, Red Sox and White Sox. In a photo finish, that matters.
Candidates: Tom Coughlin (102-90, .531, 2 titles), Jim Lee Howell (53-27-4, .663, 1 title), Bill Parcells (77-49-1, .610, 2 titles)
The best: Coughlin, and send your cards and letters now. Maybe it is recency bias, but Coughlin’s two titles were so unexpected and launched the Giants into an unprecedented sphere of modern NFL excellence. Parcells coached the best Blue team of all, in 1986, and that counts for something. This debate could last to infinity.
Candidates: Weeb Ewbank (71-77-6, .480, 1 title), Bill Parcells (29-19, .604), Rex Ryan (46-50, .479)
The best: Parcells (does this make up for the Giants snub?). Yes, Ewbank has Super Bowl III forever. But consider what Parcells did his first two years, turning 1-15 into 9-7 and then 12-4 and an AFC title game berth. It is one of the greatest coaching jobs ever.
Candidates: Red Holzman (613-483, .559, 2 titles), Joe Lapchick (326-247, .569), Pat Riley (223-105, .680)
The best: Holzman, separated from the other two by the titles he won (between them, Lapchick and Riley led the Knicks to four Finals and lost them all) and the fact his teams remain undisputed in the hearts and minds of the fans.
Candidates: Chuck Daly (88-76, .537), Kevin Loughery (297-316 .485, 2 ABA titles), Byron Scott (149-139, .517).
The best: Daly. Loughery’s teams, let’s face it, were Dr. J’s teams. And Scott’s teams were Jason Kidd’s teams. It was Daly’s misfortune to coach the Other Team in town during the Knicks’ Riley Renaissance.
Candidates: Emile Francis (342-209-103, .602), Mike Keenan (52-24-8, .667, 1 Cup), Lester Patrick (281-216-107, .554, 2 Cups)
The best: This probably would have been Keenan’s for the taking if he had lasted, oh, one more year or so. Patrick won half the franchise’s Stanley Cups. Winner.
Candidates: Al Arbour (740-537-223, .568, 4 Cups)
The best: When you’re talking about one of the handful of greatest coaches who ever lived, you’re talking about an unopposed ballot.
Candidates: Pat Burns (89-45-22-8, .634, 1 Cup), Jacques Lemaire (276-166-57-10, .608, 1 Cup), Larry Robinson (87-56-19-11, .590, 1 Cup)
The best: Robinson. Three coaches, three titles, but anyone who saw Robinson all but terrify the Devils into winning the 2000 Cup never will forget a team really can win when it is scared to death of hacking off its coach.
There are a lot of things the Mets do poorly, but it really is staggering just how uniformly awful their pitchers are at bunting.
There are a lot of agitating moments that define the soul of a Knicks fan. It’s hard to think of one more egregious than a draft order of 1. Celtics and 2. Lakers, though.
I hate to say this, but I have to say this: “The Americans” has been powerfully dull most of this season. I keep waiting for … something … to … happen ….
As brutal (with rare exception) as the NBA playoffs have been, I think it would have been proper payback if its most ardent fans had decided to sit out a few games per week, stay rested for the Finals.
Whack back at Vac
Bruce Welsch: The Knicks have no one to blame but themselves for falling back in the ridiculous made-for-TV draft lottery. They’re the ones that screwed up and won some games down the stretch.
Vac: It probably says you’re not in anything resembling a golden age when you can get ripped as a failure when it comes to failing.
Tom Cooney: Do you know who I wish the Mets had on their team? The Yankees.
Vac: “I’ll take ‘Most Galling Sentences a Mets Fan Can Utter’ for $500, please, Alex …”
@afalk62: With the advent of the Beatles channel on SiriusXM, I’m not sure when I’ll be getting back to E Street Radio — or any other station — for a while.
@MikeVacc: You and me both, brother. You and me both.
Steven Schafler: The Mets are having First-Aid kit day sponsored by Band-Aid. First 10,000 customers get an autographed X-ray of a disabled player …
Vac: … and spend the game officially listed as “day-to-day.”