My Three Cents
MakovskyTuesday, December 1, 2015
Picture this: it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Mets are on the line. They are ahead 2-0, and if they win, the World Series continues and moves to Kansas City for the sixth game. If they lose, the Series is over, and the Royals, who have won three games, will have taken four games—the required number out of seven possible—to be the victor.
Matt Harvey, one of the Mets’ top pitchers, had just completed eight scoreless innings, a shutout that would be a feat in itself in a regular season game, let alone in a World Series contest. Frequently, in such games, the team’s closer (a pitcher who is a specialist in saving late inning tight games for the would-be victor) is brought in to pitch and prevent the opposing team from scoring runs. Bringing in the closer is what Terry Collins, the Mets manager intended to do. But it is precisely the opposite of what Matt Harvey had mind.
A quick decision had to be made in the limited time between innings. The TV cameras focused in on the dugout where the silent drama was about to take place. It’s either the closer, Jeurys Familia, or the starter, Harvey. Collins makes a motion indicating that Harvey is done…and looks with stern and piercing eyes at Harvey, who wants the distinction of pitching a full nine-inning game.
Harvey, known for his huge ego, walks towards Collins and raises his arm and hand while he mouths with conviction and visible anger what I lip-read as, “You mean, you are not going to let me finish this game? Terry, you are not going to do this to me!”
Terry Collins’ face shows that he is perplexed. And in a flash it is apparent that Harvey’s words have impact, as his facial expression changes from indecisive to somber. He then motions to Harvey to take the mound. I read that he was going against his instinct. His gut told him to do one thing and he did another. The cameras move away. Harvey allows the first two men to get on base and then Collins brings the closer, Familia, in. But it is too late. The Mets lose the game and the series.
The silent movie portraying a heart-wrenching moment is over. It was unexpected and memorable. But equally as compelling in this movie is a management issue with strong communications undertones: do you follow your instincts or heed what your subordinates tell you? It depends on the game at the moment, how you want to play it, and the courage you have to communicate with your players.