Mickey Callaway never cowered to the pressure. He never succumbed to a losing mentality. His players know, and it’s time we all know…
Mickey Callaway, by definition as a manager in the major leagues, is a loser. His Met’s teams have won less than half the games they’ve played to date (137-141). Harangued in the media and a large section of Mets fans who, to this day, would welcome his departure, Mickey Callaway will walk into the clubhouse at Citi Field this afternoon in a different light.
If he chooses to, Callaway can dial-up MLB.com to take a peek at the National League Wild Card standings. Then, he can take a deep breathe and whisper to himself – “I knew we could do this.”
Mickey Callaway always believed. He believed when few would give credence to what he would echo time after time over the past few months. He would say, “We just need to get something going here,” “We have to start somewhere.” Few of us took to heart what he was saying. Take your cheerleading somewhere else, Mick.
It didn’t matter what we believed as fans or not, though. What mattered is what the 25 players in the clubhouse felt. They’re telling us now what they believed – on the playing field – the only place where they can, and where it counts the most — reminding us that it doesn’t matter where you start, but where you finish.
Even Mickey Callaway’s GM Caved
For heaven’s sake, even Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen is to be counted among the skeptics. “They came and got us” is what he said, all but surrendering to a season gone bad. Van Wagenen followed that up with an even more foreboding and depressing message given to the New York Post, barely a month ago on July 12. Remember?
With the Mets ten games under .500 at the time and eight teams ahead of them in the Wild Card Standings, few could argue with Van Wagenen’s honest assessment of his team’s plight.
At the same time though, the Mets new millionaire, Pete Alonso, was returning from the All-Star Game with a trophy and a bag full of money that put the Mets back on the national stage. Full of optimism from his accomplishment in the Home Run Derby, Alonso was met by his teammates in a different – “can do” light.
The difference was noticed elsewhere as well. New York Times, for instance, credited Alonso’s victory to his “endless enthusiasm” in 14pt headline type.
Callaway: My Team’s Got This
Mickey Callaway also saw the different aura surrounding his team. He did nothing, keeping to the same routine and means of communicating with his players. Let it be. Let it percolate. He could afford do that only because he had laid the seeds months before.
Callaway tinkered a bit with his bullpen by using Seth Lugo whenever and wherever he best fits into a particular game, even if it meant using Lugo as a closer over Edwin Diaz.
But in other areas, Mickey Callaway refused to make changes, despite the clamoring to do so. Instead, he let Jacob deGrom do the talking for him, realizing that others would follow deGrom’s lead on their own.
As the trade deadline approached and it became apparent there would be no significant subtractions from the team; the stale air escaped from the clubhouse. Feelings of uneasiness on the part of Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler subsided – the pressure released. Back to business. And back to being the starting rotation that was predicted before the season began – the best in the industry.
Mickey Callaway was right all along. You have to start somewhere. He realized the talent was always there in that room; it only needed to be aged and tapped. Pete Alonso’s heroics in Cleveland served as a catalyst, but the fuse had been lit months ago by the Met’s manager.
Callaway never veered from believing in his team. We should consider giving him his due, if only for that.