Collins and Cubs manager Joe Maddon go back nearly two decades, from when Collins gave Maddon one of his first Major League coaching jobs in 1997. Then the newly hired Angels skipper, Collins hired Maddon to be his bench coach in Anaheim. They formed a friendship that has lasted to this day, strong enough to even survive Collins’ Mets sweeping Maddon’s Cubs in last year’s National League Championship Series.

Which is why Collins watched Wednesday’s dramatic Game 7 very closely. When it ended, Collins’ former pupil had cemented his place in baseball history.

“I’m happy for Joe, he’s a great fiend. I think the world of him,” Collins said Thursday before being honored by the ALS Association in Manhattan. “It was a great series. Now we can move on. The curse is over. Now we can proceed forward, but it was pretty exciting series last night.”

Collins on Mets in 2017

Collins on Mets in 2017

Collins on Mets returning to postseason in 2017

Mets manager Terry Collins discusses the team’s performance in 2016 and its goal to return to the postseason in 2017

Maddon and Collins are rarely compared because of their dissimilar personalities. Maddon is often relaxed and eclectic, while Collins, who is very personable, is seen as more fiery. But they are cut from similar cloths in many ways.

They’re both widely respected player-first managers who never played in the Majors but have managed in a World Series. They both cut their teeth as Minor League coaches for more than 10 years before getting Major League opportunities. And they’re both open to incorporating sabermetric data in their decision making.

Collins has said he’s proud of Maddon’s success, first with Tampa and now with Chicago, while Maddon has called Collins a mentor.

And yet, that doesn’t mean they agree on everything. One of Collins’ major takeaways after watching the postseason was the aggressive bullpen use implemented first by Indians manager Terry Francona, and then later in the World Series by Maddon.

“I will tell ya, I don’t think you can do a lot of that during the season, but I think you’ll see the World Series and the playoffs played in a different matter from now on,” Collins said. “When watching the World Series, you’re picturing your guys out there on that mound. They’re pretty good. I think they’ll give me a little farther than 4 2/3 innings.

“Those guys know their teams better than I do,” Collins said. “You didn’t see Lester, Arrieta or Kluber come out early. If you are pitching good, you’re staying in the game. Obviously, the Indians’ bullpen was outstanding the entire playoffs. I just look at those pitchers and think, they’ll have to hit us pretty hard for me to take my guys out. Our guys are pretty good.”

Joe Trezza is a reporter for based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Mets News / Collins happy for ‘great friend’ Maddon