NEW YORK -- As errors, miscues and mental lapses mounted during the past decade, talk-radio callers inevitably concluded Art Howe, Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel must have omitted working on fundamentals during spring training. Or, at the very least, those skippers must have glossed over it.
Well, here's the bottom line: All three of Terry Collins' immediate predecessors as New York Mets manager emphasized properly playing the game in Port St. Lucie, just as Collins did during this spring training. And you know what? The errors and ugliness still happened.
Collins watched it firsthand Monday night, as miscue after miscue put the Mets in position for a 7-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Here are the key moments.
" Relievers Ryota Igarashi and Bobby Parnell misfired on separate throws to the plate. Igarashi's wide sixth-inning throw kept catcher Josh Thole from attempting an inning-ending double play that would have prevented Carlos Gonzalez from batting and subsequently driving in two runs with the next at-bat.
" Left fielder Willie Harris lost a ball in the lights, turning Jonathan Herrera's third-inning liner into a double, after which he would score.
"You would hope that it would get you out of innings," Collins said of those misplays. "You look at the entire ballgame, outside of the home run [by Troy Tulowitzki in the eighth], we pretty much put them in every situation they had to score. We lost a ball in the lights. We threw the ball away at home a couple of times. We can't do that, which we did.
"I went up to a couple of guys. I said, 'Everybody is as frustrated in this room as I am. But we've been in every game but one in 10 games. We've been in every single one of them, even the first game when we were no-hit through six innings.' So the fight's still there. We've just got to stop making mistakes."
Or, as Howe said during 95- and 91-loss seasons: "We battled."
How does a spring-training emphasis on fundamentals turn into Monday night?
Said Collins, when asked about pressing: "At this level, if the pressure is too much for them, it's difficult to perform with any success or regularity. So if they want to play here, or pitch here, or do anything else here, they've got to be able to understand the little parts of the game. I don't expect them to make every play. They're human beings. They're always going to make mistakes. But there's two plays today that should have got us out of innings and we didn't make them. Those are big factors. We can't possibly continue to make those mistakes."
Said Reyes: "I don't want to say it's disappointing, because mistakes are part of this game. Everybody makes a mistake in this game. Nobody's perfect. We just will try to get better. If you make a mistake in this game, if you give an extra out to the other team, they're going to score some runs on you. So we just need to play better defense. We didn't play good defense today."