Callaway, Vargas vs Reporter...

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T15D23
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Callaway, Vargas vs Reporter...

Postby T15D23 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:45 pm

Ugly clubhouse scene involving Mickey Callaway, Jason Vargas and a reporter punctuates brutal loss for the Mets
Tim Britton

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CHICAGO — The frustrations of a stagnant season boiled over for Mickey Callaway, Jason Vargas and the Mets on Sunday afternoon when a brutal loss to the Cubs was punctuated by an ugly incident in the clubhouse.

Several minutes after a relatively tense postgame session with reporters, Callaway snapped at Newsday reporter Tim Healey for saying “See you tomorrow, Mickey.”

“Don’t be a smartass, motherfucker,” Callaway said while walking away.

When Callaway came back through the clubhouse moments later, Healey said he was trying to be polite. Callaway said the remark was antagonistic, shouting to a Mets PR representative, “Get the fucker out of here. We don’t need that bullshit.”

Just after that, pitcher Jason Vargas asked Healey what he was looking at. Healey said, “It looked like you have something to say,” and Vargas replied, “I’ll knock you the fuck out, bro.” Vargas eventually took two aggressive steps toward Healey and had to be held back by teammates, including Noah Syndergaard. Carlos Gómez got between the pitcher and the reporter, and Healey departed the clubhouse.

Needless to say, this is a brutal look for Callaway, for Vargas and for the Mets. It’s indefensible in 2019 for a manager and a player to berate and threaten a reporter in the middle of the clubhouse. So much of a manager’s job is to be the public face of a franchise. Callaway failed spectacularly in that capacity Sunday.

Vargas, a veteran of 14 major-league seasons, should obviously know better than to threaten a reporter. The club/media regulations spelled out in the latest collective-bargaining agreement read: “Physical abuse or threats directed to members of the media (and/or official scorers) by baseball personnel will not be tolerated. Disciplinary action, including fines and suspensions, will be considered in any cases that arise.”

The Mets released the following statement later Sunday:

“The Mets sincerely regret the incident that took place with one of our beat writers following today’s game in the clubhouse. We do not condone this type of behavior from any employee. The organization has reached out and apologized to this reporter and will have further discussions internally with all involved parties.”

Through the ups and downs of a tumultuous season and a half in New York, Callaway has been steadfast in his demeanor, reacting to rough months and prolonged mediocrity with positivity and confidence that the tide would turn — so much so that he’s been criticized in some circles for not reacting strongly enough to tough losses.

“My job as a leader is to stay rational at all times and think about the big picture,” Callaway said last May when asked about prioritizing an even-keeled approach. “Everybody has to recognize when they’re probably about to be unproductive and reel it back in and think about the bigger picture.”

There have been minor breaches in that veneer, times in his postgame press conferences that Callaway has bristled under intense questions from beat reporters. This year, that’s most often revolved around discussions of bullpen usage and closer Edwin Díaz in particular. On Sunday, Callaway was grilled about his decision to stick with Seth Lugo — who allowed Javy Báez’s go-ahead three-run homer — instead of turning to Díaz.

“Again, no we’re not going to use him for five outs,” Callaway said. “I know you guys keep on asking, but my answer is going to stay the same.”

(Earlier this season, Callaway was just as stern about not using Díaz for more than three outs. That changed within three weeks.)

Asked Sunday if the current plan for Díaz had to be altered, Callaway replied to a reporter, “No, just because you think so? Absolutely not. We have a very good plan, we know what we’re doing, and we’re going to stick to it.”

To this point, Callaway had always reeled his emotions back in, at least publicly. The outburst minutes later was different, and it should change the way the Mets feel about Callaway as the face of their franchise.

Callaway was already on thin ice. The Mets haven’t won three games in a row in a month, haven’t climbed above .500 in more than seven weeks and have fallen into fourth place. Sunday presented an opportunity to alter that negative narrative, with the club five outs away from a third consecutive victory and a series win on the road against a first-place team.

Lugo, the Mets’ best reliever throughout the season, did not have his best stuff from the moment he entered in the seventh inning.

“I thought he had good stuff,” Callaway said. “We just didn’t execute one pitch.”

“I wasn’t executing any pitch,” Lugo said. “I think I threw probably two or three pitches I was happy with out of (42).”

Callaway nevertheless stuck with him against the top of the Chicago lineup for the eighth, and again as his pitch count climbed past 40 when the Cubs put the tying and go-ahead runs on for Báez with one out. Díaz never warmed up.

“I didn’t get the call to start warming up,” Díaz said through interpreter Alan Suriel. “I was ready, but I’m sure he has his reasons.”

Lugo’s 0-2 slider to Báez backed up over the middle of the plate, and the shortstop deposited it into the right-field seats for a 5-3 lead.

It’s not the first time that Callaway, hired in part because of his adept feel for a pitching staff in Cleveland, did not showcase that skill this season.

When Callaway brought in Robert Gsellman to replace Lugo, he double-switched Jeff McNeil — the National League’s third-leading hitter and a player Callaway has routinely said deserves to be an All-Star — into the lineup five spots away in the ninth inning. McNeil did not get a turn at bat in the top of the ninth.

“We knew that to score two more runs, the fifth hitter would have to come up, that would have been McNeil, and we kind of knew what we wanted to do with the other ones,” Callaway said. “It made a lot of sense to us. We knew McNeil could come up and get a game-winning hit or tie it up at least. It just didn’t happen.”

In a two-run game, hitting the contact-oriented McNeil ahead of the Mets’ two power-hitting options off the bench — Dominic Smith and Wilson Ramos — would have made more sense, especially given the relatively minor advantage gained by keeping Gsellman in the game for a potential bottom of the ninth.

As it was, New York was retired in order in the ninth, with Smith lining out to end the game as a pinch-hitter.

As the Mets have shaken up their front office and their coaching staff (twice), Callaway has remained. When the team came off a sweep in Miami last month, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Callaway was his manager and that he would remain so “for the foreseeable future.”

This kind of moment was not foreseeable.
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davis2
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Re: Callaway, Vargas vs Reporter...

Postby davis2 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:46 pm

Of course the reporters are going to go after the Met manager and player. They won't say that the reporter can be a smartass or anything against him. I'm sure that reporter knew he would piss Callaway off.
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