Dysfunction has long been a word synonymous with the New York Mets organization. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad…
The Mets dysfunction as an organization reached a new high yesterday when a press conference that was called to announce that Mickey Callaway was being retained as manager “for the foreseeable future” was trumped by the implausible news from Brodie Van Wagenen that Yoenis Cespedes had taken “a bad fall” at his ranch, suffering a broken ankle. The guffaws from the audience of media could almost be heard above the whispers.
That’s how it is with the New York Mets – try to put out one fire while another one is starting – creating a scene of turmoil, dissension, and despair. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a glance at the one above, because it tells us all we need to know about the Mets hierarchy these days.
Jeff Wilpon and Mickey Callaway standing feet apart from each other with blank stares on their faces. Arms folded in defiance and resistance to the whole damn thing – defensive postures against the whole world – we’ve seen it over and over again.
Die-hard Mets fan would say it’s all just a matter of bad luck. The Mets aren’t cheap, they’ve spent big on free agents and luxurious contracts. But who could have predicted David Wright‘s body would disintegrate before our very eyes, or that Jay Bell and Bobby Bonilla would show up as imposters, and Jed Lowrie is still waiting for his first at-bat as a Met?
Coincidence? Bad luck? No, it’s the New York Mets. And besides, how much luckier can a team be when it wins a World Series in 1969 because their pedestrian right fielder makes the most improbable catch of his life, and then another title in 1986 when Mookie Wilson‘s ball dribble’s through the legs of Bill Buckner?
If there is bad luck at all, it is the misfortune of New York Mets fans to have Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, and Saul Katz (don’t forget him – he’s the moneyman) as the principal owners of the team. From there, all the toxicity of the organization floats down.
And unless Major League Baseball steps in, as they’ve done with Marge Schott and her racial epitaphs in Cincinnati, the McCourts and their nasty divorce in Dodgertown, and behind the scenes work to oust Jeffrey Loria in Miami, nothing – absolutely nothing – will change in New York. So, what’s left?
“Ya Gotta Believe” – No, You Don’t
Tug McGraw, bless his heart, told us we gotta believe. And many religiously do, even when reality slaps in the face. No, it’s that we choose to believe. We choose to believe because we don’t want the New York Mets to be known as the laughing stock of baseball.
So, when Dapper Bodie Van Wagenen is hired as the new General Manager of the team, we welcome him with open arms. And we write glittering columns (like this one from December 8, 2018) about his dynamic energy, his trade savvy, and his free agent signings (like this one from January 8, 2019). And we reveled in his bravado when he declared the Mets as the team to beat in the NL East.
Slowly but surely, though, we see a change in Van Wagenen developing. A change that prompted me to write this column on April 16, when Van Wagenen drew a clear line between himself and Callaway, setting the rules pertaining to the use of Edwin Diaz straight. A baseball decision being made by Dapper Brodie in his $2000 silk suits…a shot across the bow, signaling that yes – this was all about power.
Mickey Callaway Represents An Organization Failure
When a team fires a manager at the beginning of his second of three contracted seasons with the team, that is an organizational failure. It raises questions about Callaway’s hiring in the first place. Hiring a pitching coach as a big league manager with no managerial experience anywhere? Which was precisely the question I asked and wrote about on October 24, 2017.
So make no mistake, yesterday’s non-firing of Mickey Callaway was not a vote of confidence. Instead, it was the Mets covering up of their own mistake and the continuing Mets dysfunction as an organization.
Let me put it another way. Come next month, the Mets will be selecting and signing players in the June College Draft. That’s the easy part. What comes next, though, is developing those kids and their raw talent.
Developing them to the point where you don’t need to teach Amed Rosario the finer points of playing shortstop or stealing bases when he’s on your 25-man roster and playing in major league games.
The inability of the Mets organization to develop players is another sign of their dysfunction, but it doesn’t end there because the same thing should apply to your manager, especially when you hire a raw and inexperienced talent (you believe) like Mickey Callaway.
Ask this question. How much mentorship did Jim Riggleman provide for Callaway as the sage who’s been around the managing block? Or, if you really want to be cynical, was Riggleman hired by Van Wagenen to “keep an eye” on Callaway by holding him in check? I.E – has Callaway been the fall guy – the ace in the hole – that Brodie knows he can hold onto to insulate himself from impending disaster?
Mets Fans – A Saving Grace?
There’s one area, though, to which Brodie Van Wagenen’s power will never extend to. Mets fans will not be bullied and they cannot be lied to. In fact, Mets fans have more power than Brodie can ever dream of having – it’s called the power of the purse.
Mets fans can stop at any moment spending their hard earned money to purchase tickets. They can stop buying hats and jerseys. They can stop watching telecasts on SNY. That’s money, and it’s something the Wilpons treasure and understands.
Will it happen? I doubt it, which sparks an idea for tomorrow’s column to be titled something like: “On The Die-Hard Mets Fan – What’s Up With That?”