“It’s been a lot of fun, and when it’s over, it’s over,” Collins said. “I’ll walk out with my head up. It’s been a great experience. And I’ll tell you, as you know, this is not Riverside, Calif., by any stretch of the imagination. This is an intense place, and second’s never good enough.”
The reference to Riverside was not random; 20 years ago, I covered Collins’s Angels for the paper there. This was before his players revolted, in 1999, forcing his tearful resignation and sending him on an 11-year odyssey to his next major league managing job.
Knowing Collins then, it was easy to recognize his gift for being candid in public, communicating just how much he cared yet still standing up for the players, who had all reached a level he never did in a career that peaked in Class AAA. The hope was that his intervening years — as a scout, a coach, a farm director, a manager in Japan and so on — would soften the edges that had sometimes bothered his teams. And they did.