I was a little skeptical when Terry Collins was named manager of the New York Mets in 2011.
I had my reasons.
For one, Collins hadn't managed in MLB since 1999 before he got the gig.
There weren't exactly glowing reviews from his previous stints with the Houston Astros and the Anaheim Angels, either.
However, Collins really earned my respect last season.
There were great moments in 2011, and some not so great ones.
But through it all, Collins kept his team together through thick and thin, and you could tell he cared about his players and his players cared about him.
Here we are, in the first week of the 2012 season, and the Mets are fun to watch again.
And it's not just because of the series victory over the Atlanta Braves to start the season, although that was great.
There just seems to be a different vibe with this team right now, at least to me.
For the first time since Citi Field opened in 2009, it feels a little bit like Shea.
Maybe it's the blue walls in the outfield, or the new uniforms this year, which are now sans black all the way down to the lack of a drop shadow.
This truly feels like Mets baseball, and Terry Collins deserves a ton of credit for that.
For the first time in awhile, this team feels like a team.
A team that's fun to root for, that fights for every pitch and every out of every game, working counts and putting pressure on opening pitchers.
I admit, there are things Collins does as Mets manager that make me want to bang my head against a wall.
I think he bunts too much, for one. Then again, I really don't like position players bunting at all, so that's just me nitpicking.
Overall, in his time here, he's proving that he’s the perfect fit for this team.
A lot of these homegrown players are the same kids Collins oversaw as Mets minor league field coordinator in 2010.
Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee. The list goes on and on.
Collins has intimate knowledge of the organization, from the lowest levels of the minors up to the big league squad, and that's definitely helped this team gel.
I have full faith in Sandy Alderson as Mets GM, and I think he nailed it with the hiring of Terry Collins.
The Mets are in transition right now, and Collins is probably nothing more than a transitional manager.
Whether or not you believe that Collins will be managing the Mets when they return to prominence is irrelevant.
Right now, at this juncture, with this squad, he has proven to be the right man for the job.
I wasn't too excited when the Mets decided to pick up his option for 2013, but Collins is turning me into a believer.
Some will point to Wally Backman, who looks like he's being groomed for the Mets managerial job at some point in the future.
Backman is managing the Buffalo Bisons in Triple-A this season, after managing the Double-A team last year and in Brooklyn with the Cyclones the year before that.
Clearly, he's a managerial prospect on the rise, and it's safe to say that he'll probably make his MLB managing debut sooner rather than later.
But barring something crazy happening this season, I don't see any reason why Collins wouldn't return for a third season as Mets manager in 2013.
Perhaps Backman would get a promotion to be on Collins' coaching staff, but is that really a better job that being a manager somewhere else, even if that means in the minors again?
I think Wally Backman is a legitimate managerial prospect. But just like player prospects, timing and opportunity are big factors.
Ruben Tejada and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are two young players who play the right position at the right time, and now they're getting their shot.
Backman might have to be patient as he waits to get his shot. If he finds a managerial job elsewhere in MLB, he should take it.
But I'd love to see him stay in the organization. As the Mets rebuild this year and next, Collins is the right man for the job.
However, when the Mets are in position ton win again, and I mean really win, I'm still not totally convinced that Collins will still be around.
The Mets think highly of Backman, and they should. He's earned the right to be where he is now.
It appears that the Mets have a potential manager waiting in the wings if the current one falters. It's one spot they actually do have some depth.
It'll be interesting to see how the situation plays itself out.
There are fans out there who truly believe Backman is the right man for the job right now, and should replace Collins as soon as possible.
But if Collins keeps this team focused and playing hard for him, there's no rush to hand Backman the keys.
I was skeptical about Collins a year ago. Now I'm ready to call myself a believer.
Nobody knows what the future holds, but right now for the Mets, the present isn't too bad either.