On a cold night at Dodger Stadium, the Chicago Cubs' advance scout is wearing a bulky sweater and carrying a heavy jacket. It is not his outfit of choice.
Terry Collins would prefer to be in uniform again, managing or coaching, but will he get that chance?
In an industry quick to label, there is a concern that his wardrobe may now include the stigma of his final year at the helm of the seemingly out-of-control Angels.
Does he worry about that? Does he think he could be stigmatized?
''No, not after five good ones,'' he said, referring to his having led the Houston Astros to three consecutive second-place finishes before leading the Angels to two more.
He reflected on those last two and said, ''We were in the race in both '97 and '98 despite injuries. We played hard and we played good in both years. Some people may forget that, but I won't.''
What most won't forget -- and what Collins would like to -- is the way 1999 dissolved into a morass of injuries and clubhouse friction -- an ''embarrassing loss of professionalism,'' former Angel Chuck Finley said this spring.
When the Angels weren't revolting in response to management's intention to give Collins a contract extension, they were pointing fingers at each other and anyone else in the room.
The back-biting and in-fighting ultimately prompted a disgusted Collins to resign amid tears.
It is eight months later and he has finally gotten over it, he said, although the memory still intrudes at times.
''I'm not bitter, only disappointed that it didn't turn out better,'' he said. ''With the signing of Mo (Vaughn) as an impact player (last year), we had a lot of high hopes, but it's one thing to have good players and another to have those good players have good years. It's easy to point fingers, but it takes a team effort. We saw that with Boston last year with guys like Nomar (Garciaparra) and Pedro (Martinez) and Troy O'Leary leading the Red Sox into the playoffs.''
It also takes a summer free of injuries, and Collins said when he hears successor Mike Scioscia or any other manager say his team can compete if healthy, ''I want to say, 'No kidding.' You just can't lose a Tim Salmon, Jim Edmonds and Gary DiSarcina for three months and expect to compete. I'm not saying we would have beaten the Texas Rangers, but it's ridiculous to think we wouldn't have played better and it wouldn't have been a different scenario.''
The scenario, of course, became untenable for Collins, and when he reads how Vaughn talks about the different atmosphere under Scioscia, about how Scioscia has been through it as a major league player, Collins doesn't have to read between the lines because there are two aspects about '99 that still rile him.
One was the insinuation that he was wound too tightly, was too intense, that the players couldn't relax and were fearful of making mistakes -- and therefore made too many.
Of course, it was his intensity that attracted the Angels to hire him as successor to the more passive Marcel Lachemann and ultimately rubbed off, producing an aggressive team in '97 and '98.
''If my biggest fault is that I care and I want to win and I believe in playing hard, then I can live with that,'' Collins said.
He added anyone pointing a finger at his demeanor was simply looking for a ''lousy cop-out,'' which was also the case with the second insinuation -- that the Angels could not relate to or respect Collins because he never played in the big leagues.
''I wonder if they could relate to or respect Jim Leyland, Tony La Russa, Tom Lasorda, Walter Alston or Earl Weaver,'' Collins said.
''I played 10 years in the minors and managed for another 10. You mean to tell me that didn't count, that I didn't pay my dues, that I didn't study and learn the game in that time?
''You mean I didn't pick up anything coaching for Leyland in Pittsburgh, one of the best managers ever?
''Did that bother me? You bet, and it was nothing more than another cop-out, but I want it clear I have nothing against the Angel organization, that I liked the players for the most part and feel they played hard for me.
''I just think that a few of them got caught up last year worrying about stuff out of their control, and I tried to tell them they needed to just go out and play, let me worry about the 25 and let (then general manager) Billy Bavasi worry about the organization.
''The scenario we went through last year happens in a lot of clubhouses, but if a team stays healthy it can play through it and it gets ignored. It's when the pitching and lineup breaks down, when things start to go bad, that it becomes hard for players to go about their job without looking for someone to blame.''
Collins became the unfortunate and unjustified focus in '99. He knew it was unlikely he would be offered another managerial job immediately but was hopeful of landing a coaching opportunity.
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