NEW YORK -- With theMetsplaying its worst baseball of the season and threatening to fade from contention for a postseason spot, manager Terry Collins went after his team in a postgame news conferenceand lit into them in a closed-door meeting that lasted about 20 minutes.
In a nearly four-minute rant after a 9-0 loss to Arizona at Citi Field that gave the lowly Diamondbacks a three-game sweep, Collins questioned the effort of his players and threatened to find players in the minor league system that would give the expected effort if the ones on the 25-man roster did not.
He then stalked out of the interview room and spoke to his team.
"They are Major League Baseball players. I don't care where they came from. I don't care how they got here," Collins simmered at the start of his rant. "The names on their backs and on the front of their uniforms say they are a Major League Baseball player. You come (here), you owe a responsibility to the fans, our fan base and the organization -- to yourself -- the respect for this game to grind it out."
"Starting tomorrow we're going to get after it," Collins concluded. "And those that don't want to get after it? I'll find some who do. Because in Las Vegas there is a whole clubhouse of guys that want to sit in this room. And that's all I have to say."
The loss was the Mets 11th in 15 games and dropped them to 57-57, but it was dispiriting to be swept by a team that arrived in Queens 21 games under .500.
They managed just four hits to suffer their first shutout since June 28. And they gave up four more stolen bases (including one by pitcher Braden Shipley); Arizona's 13 for the three-game series was the most the Mets have allowed in a series since 1990. There was a wild pitch. There was a passed ball.
Still, the Mets stand three games back for the second NL wild card spot but have three teams to leapfrog to get there.
Collins may very well have been making the final move he can to pull his team out of a funk before it costs him his job. By leaving the room after the rant, he did not take questions about his job security. That might have been intentional. But he also did not shirk responsibility for the state of the team.
"They got here because of the grind-it-out at-bats. That's how they got here because that's how this organization has been built the last few years. We know it's possible," Collins said. "And yes, some guys are having a bad time, but you cannot say 'woe is me' at this level. You cannot do it. Everybody is too good here.
"Nobody feels sorry for you because everybody's been humbled. Those who get out of it, stay here a long time. Those who don't, you keep looking up and they keep getting a little time here and a little time there but they don't stay. I want the ones who can stay.
"It's my responsibility. I get it. I write the lineup every day. I am the one who decides who comes in to pitch. You know what? That's my job -- I'll stand up and be accountable. That's what I do. But I know one thing: there has to be passion to come and play. There better not be a sense of 'this is what I do for a living.' People who pay to see me play are going to see my best effort."
According to some in the clubhouse, a few players also spoke after Collins got after them.
"No berating, nothing about that," Neil Walker said of Collins' meeting. "It's about keeping the positive, putting the blinders on, coming here on a daily basis with energy and playing hard."
Said Kelly Johnson: "He's the manager of the team. Coming in from his perspective, he can speak his mind and get out what he wants to get out. I think we have a good group of guys that can take it and learn from it, hear it and use it to get batter. When you have a group that pushes back and goes in different directions, that when things go downhill. But we don't have that group. ... This is one of the best clubhouses I've ever been in."
Collins didn't single any one player out for blame, but did hold up walker as an example. On a fly out, he was at second base when the ball came down.
"That's how you play the game," Collins said. "Not throw your hands up, stop at first at the 45-foot line. You play the game correctly. Every one of us is responsible."