Craig Calcaterra

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01:  Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets reacts to striking out the side in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Five of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field on November 1, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

“No way, NO WAY!”

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NEW YORK — In the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 5, Yoenis Cespedes fouled a ball off his knee with the bases loaded and nobody out. He was in obvious pain, unable to put any weight on his leg. Despite the clear opportunity to add to the Mets’ lead, Terry Collins let Cespedes stay in the game. He popped up weakly to the infield. In reality, Cespedes had no business being in that game at that point. Collins should’ve taken him out.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthan walked up to Matt Harvey in the dugout to tell him he was coming out of the game following eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts, up 2-0.

“No way. No way!” Harvey barked. He maybe said it four times, actually. Warthan, obviously not the final world on the matter, apparently told Harvey that it was manager Terry Collins’ call. So Harvey sought out Collins.

“No way!” Harvey said again.

Collins relented. Harvey stayed in. It was the second time in the space of two innings Collins deferred to his player. It was the second time in two innings that the decision ended up costing the Mets, as Harvey put two men on and the Royals rallied to tie it.

So much more went into that rally — a horrible throw by Lucas Duda that should’ve pegged Eric Hosmer at home plate before he could score the second run chief among them — but at bottom, Collins deferring to his players are why the game is tied 2-2 right now instead of over and on its way back to Kansas City.

I blame Collins for the Cespedes call, as he clearly was hobbled. I am more forgiving of the Harvey call. Harvey had been amazing all night. It’s got to be hard to disbelieve your pitcher when he so emphatically says he’s good to go. More cosmically, you don’t stand in the way of potential greatness, and Harvey was authoring greatness for eight innings on this night. We’re not paid to manage a baseball team and we want to see amazing things happen. Maybe leaving Harvey in was a bad baseball move, but I for one can’t say that I was saying that before the inning started so I won’t second guess Collins now.

But, as I post this, the game is in extra innings when it could’ve been over. We don’t know how it will end. If it ends with the Royals popping champagne, it will be a long, cold winter in New York in which people ask themselves whether Collins should’ve left Harvey in the game.

“No way!” I imagine a lot of them will say.

Better late than never: Jeurys Familia is available for two innings tonight

Terry Collins
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NEW YORK — There was a lot of second-guessing of Terry Collins last night after Tyler Clippard put two men on in the eighth inning, leading to the Royals’ game-winning rally. People wondered why Collins didn’t go to Jeurys Familia for a two inning save.

Collins’ postgame comments stoked that controversy more, when he admitted that Familia pitching in the blowout that was Game 3 colored his decision making. Why pitch him on Friday anyway? Why go to him for a five-out save if you weren’t willing to use him for six?

Today Collins was asked about that. Part of what he said makes perfect sense. When asked if Familia is available for a six-out save, he gave a one-word answer: “yes.” Which, of course. It’s an elimination game. All hands on deck as they say.

But when he expanded on the decisions made the past two nights, he made a bit less sense:

Again, it’s easy to sit back and say, You should have done this after it didn’t work. Let me tell you something, we did that same scenario almost — when we got Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed, we went 7, 8, 9. We won a lot of games using that scenario, and last night it didn’t work. So, you know, after it didn’t work, it’s easy, “Well, you should have used Familia.” Well, I used Familia in Los Angeles and I got crucified because I used him for a six-out save. And last night I got crucified because I didn’t use him for six outs. That’s the nature of the game. I’m not offended by that. That’s opinions. But we went with what worked for us, and it didn’t work last night.

I get a guy bristling at being second-guessed. But can someone — anyone — point to an example of Collins being “crucified” for using Familia for a two-inning save against the Dodgers in the NLDS? I can’t remember anyone taking any issue with that. The operative narrative the next day was “good for Collins for doing what he needed to do to win the game.” I’ll further note that Wade Davis saved last night’s game by getting six outs for the Royals. No one is crucifying Ned Yost over that today.

It can’t be easy to be a major league manager and no one likes to be criticized. But using Clippard was a mistake and using Familia the night before was a mistake. This is not hindsight. Many, many people were questioning these decisions before Clippard put two men on in the eighth inning last night.

Daniel Murphy isn’t Bill Buckner, but is history repeating itself all the same?

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NEW YORK — History wasn’t repeating itself perfectly, but it was tracking closely enough for the Mets. At least for a while.

In 1986 the Mets lost Game 1 of the World Series by one run, lost Game 2 by six runs and won Game 3 by six. This year they lost Game 1 by one run, lost Game 2 by six runs and won Game 3 by six.

Right on track, yes?

The 1986 Mets won Game 4 behind two homers from Gary Carter. On this night’s Game 4 the Mets got two homers from Michael Conforto. I don’t believe in signs, omens or nonsense like that but that is, at the very least, a good bit of synchronicity. If we played that pattern out long enough we’d see some big disastrous, Bucknerian error from Eric Hosmer in Game 6, but thanks to Daniel Murphy‘s disastrous error in the eighth inning the Mets may not even get to a Game 6.

To be clear, Murphy letting the ball hit to him off the bat of Hosmer was not a Bill Buckner moment. Buckner’s error was in what would’ve been the clinching game in extra innings. This was in the eighth and the Mets, even if they had won, would have to play tomorrow and then again on Tuesday. And it’s not like it’ll have the same sort of impact as Buckner’s play either given that more people were probably watching various college football games this evening than this game. The lack of similar leverage and cultural fragmentation will render this more of an “oh yeah” moment than an “I remember where I was” moment. This was just everyday clown shoes. It’s also worth noting that if it wasn’t for Murphy’s heroics in the NLDS and NLCS, the Mets wouldn’t even be here.

But there is one comp to 1986’s Game 6 that is worth making, and that was the losing team’s bullpen decisions. Bullpen decisions that were quite opposite in form, but equivalent in effect. While Buckner was the goat, in 1986 Red Sox manager John McNamara left reliever Calvin Schiraldi in way, way too long in most observers’ eyes, allowing that game to go into extra innings in the first place. In this game, Terry Collins might’ve done better if he followed McNamara’s lead.

Before the game, Terry Collins was asked about why he used Jeurys Familia in a blowout in Game 3. He said that he wanted to get Familia some work given that he hadn’t pitched in two nights. Then he said, “we don’t have that many more games to play, and he’s a big, strong guy that has to pitch. So I thought one inning wouldn’t hurt him, and he didn’t use that many pitches so he’ll be ready tonight.”

If he’s so big and so strong, why not use him for two innings to protect a one-run lead in Game 4? Why start with Tyler Clippard in the eighth to walk two guys, forcing Familia to come in and get five outs instead of six? After tonight’s game Collins said “we talked about going two innings with Jeurys, but we might not have had him tomorrow.” When asked if Familia pitching in Game 3 affected the decision to have Clippard start the eighth tonight Collins said, “yeah, a little bit.”

I suppose “big and strong” has its limits.

As it was, Familia had to come in with two men on. He induced the grounder that Murphy flubbed to allow the Royals to tie the game and that gave Familia one of the tougher blown saves you’ll see. Two singles later and, in a nice little recovery, a nifty Daniel Murphy-led double play that ended the inning, perhaps it was academic. Ned Yost wasn’t taking any similar chances. After grabbing that lead he decided that getting cute with setup men wasn’t the smart play and called Wade Davis in for a two-inning save. And, because he’s amazing, Wade Davis saved it. The Royals now possess a commanding 3-1 lead and can wrap this business up in Game 5 on Sunday night.

History doesn’t really repeat itself. Time is not actually a flat circle. And if you look at the definition of the world synchronicity, you realize that the coincidences it attempts to describe only appear to be related. But after thinking so much about 1986 lately and after seeing how this game was unfolding before the eighth inning, you have to wonder if we saw some temporal weirdness here. Patterns being followed and then the streams being crossed.

Whether whatever is happening is a repeat and whether, if it is, it’s tragedy or farce is probably in the eye of the beholder.