Mickey Callaway is history. A decade from now, how will he be seen in the annals of the New York Mets? Put this one in a time capsule for later…
Mickey Callaway must have been the most surprised person on the planet when then Mets GM, Sandy Albertson, called him with the news that he was selected as the next manager of the New York Mets.
Callaway had been through three exhaustive interviews with Met’s brass. To each one, he carried three black three-ring notebooks outlining his plans to reorganize and jettison the Mets into a new age. It would be an era in which communication would reign on all levels, but most notably with his players.
He would beat Brodie Van Wagenen to his punch when he was later named as GM, declaring that we work for them – the players don’t work for us.
These were heady times for the Mets and Callaway. A new beginning following Terry Collins, who was pushed upstairs.
Mentally prepared for the task that lay ahead, we’ll never know. But Callaway gave every impression he was up to the challenge, and eagerly awaiting the start of Spring Training.
Oh, there were critics. Plenty of them, and they didn’t waste time or words reminding everyone that Callaway had zero managing experience as a manager anywhere – let alone the New York Mets or any other big-league team.
We don’t know the feelings or thoughts Van Wagenen had about Callaway when he took the job as GM. But we do know Van Wagenen did not appoint him.
Mickey Callaway Dives In
Off to Spring Training Callaway went with binders in tow and an air of self-confidence brewing – with a plan to do this and to do that. Those six weeks flew by in an instant, though, and for the first time, Callaway probably realized – “Hey, hold on a second, this isn’t what I thought it would be.”
We know what happened next as the team surged to that fantastic beginning of the 2018 season – only to fall into the depths of the pennant race by June.
The mantra that never really ended began then with Mets fans crying for Callaway’s dismissal. Back pages of New York newspapers refused to release Callaway from that unforgivable “wrong lineup” mistake.
Too much money was on the table, however, and Callaway was released from purgatory for the 2019 season.
The heat on Callaway went from moderate to boiling in a matter of three months as the Mets descended to a season-low of eleven games under .500, with as many as six teams in front of them to even secure a Wild Card spot in the 2019 season.
Mets fans and most fans of baseball know the rest. The team and Mickey Callaway found themselves, only to fall just short of their goal.
Throughout it all, Callaway was a stand-up man, right up to the moment he was made aware of his dismissal.
Save, that is, for the meltdown, he incurred with a New Jersey reporter. At the behest of Van Wagenen, Callaway was forced to make not only the apology he offered himself but once more. Never did we hear a peep from Callaway, despite the humiliation of having to do so.
Nor did we hear resistance, though he must have been burning, when Van Wagenen, sitting at home at the time, called the trainer’s room with instructions for Callaway to remove Jacob deGrom from a game.
Nor did we hear resistance from Callaway when Van Wagenen made it publicly known that under no circumstances would Edwin Diaz pitch anything other than the ninth inning in a game.
The Meat On The Bone – Loyalty
Loyalty was Mickey Callaway’s calling card through thick and thin. As was his effusive never say die character to his players and the media.
We forget these things because we selectively remember the near past.
Let us also remember the team Mickey Callaway leaves behind is a team on the cusp of greatness – and whoever inherits the team as the next manager of the Mets is receiving a head start toward his legacy with the team.
I view this in the same way that Gene Michael assembled the Core Four of the Yankees and more in the early 1990s. Recall that it was Brian Cashman who later came along to reap the rewards from the seeds sown by Michael.
I have no problem with Callaway’s dismissal. A change is needed.
But at the same time, and much like Terry Collins, Callaway served a useful purpose as one of the building blocks necessary in producing the glory of what is yet to come. And I dare see anyone say anything different…