Dave Jauss Holds the Secret of the New York Mets' Successes

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Dave Jauss Holds the Secret of the New York Mets' Successes

Dave Jauss is a man of few words, but when he speaks, people listen.

He has a unique perspective on the game, where neither the past nor the future has any impact on his opinions, and where the here and now are the only things in the world.

He's an astute baseball man with more than two decades of experience and know-how to draw from, and he encapsulates the "taking it one day at a time" cliche better than anyone in pro sports.

Speaking with him on the field after batting practice on Tuesday, the Mets' bench coach was his usual self, signing autographs for every kid in line and not passing a single person by without smiling and saying hello.

I asked him for his impressions of the 2-4 road trip against Atlanta and Philadelphia, the two teams above the Mets in the standings, and without pausing even for a moment as if to search for a way out of answering, he said:

"It's Tuesday, and I can't remember Monday. It was an off day, too, so it's like a week ago. In this game of baseball, you only remember today, and today we have a great BP, we're swinging the bat well and we're ready to go out and get Ubaldo Jimenez.

"The only thing I want to do is go 1-0 each day. I don't even look at the standings until October 3 or whenever it is. It's just not important."

It's a different take for a bench coach to have, for sure, but his reasoning comes from the fact that you can't change the past. If you can't change it, then why dwell on it?

All of a sudden, his logic seems a little clearer, because why stay negative about something that is over and done with when there are more pressing matters at hand that you can do something about?

A few questions later, I asked him about the future; about what will make the difference with the Mets over the next month or so if they hope to get back into the playoff hunt.

The response was equally non-committal.

"It's the same thing as not remembering the last day or even the last week," he said. "You can't think about tomorrow.

"If we play good baseball today, then all of the other little things will take care of themselves. We'll get on a roll and take care of ourselves."

I don't know if I expected a different answer, but as he smiled, I decided to change the topic to something I knew he'd be happy to talk about...prospect Fernando Martinez.

Martinez hit .255 with 12 homers and 33 RBI in 68 games in the International League for Buffalo before being called up to the big club last week, and I knew that Jauss had seen more of Martinez than most of the other coaches on the team.

Speaking about Martinez earlier in the day, Chris Carter

had said: "Fernando is a very mature 21-year-old. He's very professional, and I see a lot of potential in him for sure," while Ike Davis called him "a talent with a lot of tools."

I wanted to know if the coaches saw in him what his teammates did.

Jauss added: "I know him a little bit because he was on the other club against me in January, and all he did was wear me out. He was in Escogido and I was managing in Licey.

"It's the same young man I saw in the other dugout, and I'm glad he's now in my dugout. He had a good start on Sunday, he made a nice throw to home, took good swings, and his BP was good today, and we're excited to have him in the lineup."

Even then, the focus came back to batting practice and the events of the last 20 minutes. Jauss isn't a man to concern himself unnecessarily with the big picture, about the past and the future, and maybe living in the moment is the secret to success.

Maybe one pitch at a time, one swing at a time, one throw at a time really is the way to handle this game. Jose Reyes said today that he has a hard time concentrating on every single pitch in an at-bat, and in a season of so many games, what will the final verdict on the Mets' season come down to?

Most fans will define the year with a number of individual plays, just like the whole of 2007 was remembered for Carlos Beltran keeping his bat on his shoulder and 2009 was the year Luis Castillo dropped A-Rod's game-ending pop-up.

Individually, fans don't remember a single the other way in May, a 1-2-3 inning of a pitcher in July, a routine double play up the middle.

They're not interesting, and they're only newsworthy when things go wrong. Like if the single had hitter the runner going from first to second, or if the 1-2-3 inning came from a position player, or the double play recorded the final two outs of a game in the 18th inning, or something similarly unexpected.

In a season of 2,420 games, tens of thousands of pitches, baseball is remembered and defined by moments. While those moments alone account for very little, mathematically speaking, it is those same moments that account for everything.

If living in the moment is the key to understanding baseball, maybe Dave Jauss, a former coach, scout, and psychology graduate, is the smartest man in the world.

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