New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway let frustration get the best of him on Sunday. In doing so, he represented the team poorly and sealed his fate as a dead manager walking.
Strategically, Callaway did a lot right with his pitching staff. He let Jacob deGrom go through six (easy choice) and then called upon Seth Lugo for the seventh. Where he lacked intuition was when Lugo clearly lacked his best stuff. Rather than make a pitching change in the eighth, he left his most trusted reliever on the mound laboring. The result was a three-run home run from Javier Baez and a blown save for the Mets.
The big story happened after the game when Callaway went full Samuel L. Jackson on a reporter. Jason Vargas came to his defense, even going as far as to challenge the beat writer to a fight. Vargas also dropped a few expletives in the chaotic postgame happenings and was reportedly held back by Carlos Gomez and Noah Syndergaard. It’s probably the best defense the Mets have shown all year.
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Callaway’s tenure with the Mets feels like it’s coming to an end. It has felt that way for weeks now and some could even argue he deserved to be fired at a point in 2018. I’m not one to rush to demand the firing of any manager or coach unless they cross a moral boundary. For the Mets’ skipper, he may have done so on Sunday.
Callaway has managed to keep calm, cool, and collected for most of his time as the team’s manager. Sunday’s loss got the best of him and he showed his ugly side. Worst of all, his profanity was triggered by a writer saying he would see him tomorrow. Though some have speculated it was said in sarcasm, this is not an appropriate reaction from him or Vargas.
Because Callaway’s contract runs only through 2020, this is the year when the Mets would theoretically fire or extend him. Lame duck managers are quite uncommon. So, when a team hires a man on a three-year deal, it’s really just a two-season plan with a chance at more.
In the year and a half we have seen Callaway in his current position, what has he shown to deserve a longer chance at it? The team is not going to win with him. Even if he’s not the problem, it’s clear he’s not the solution either.
Until this point, it was possible to defend Callaway. I don’t believe he’s a bad guy. We’ve all had those moments in life where we overreact in a situation similar to the way Callaway did. However, if I said anything remotely similar to what Callaway did, I wouldn’t keep my job. Why should he?
Callaway’s personal Doomsday Clock is at two minutes to midnight. The fine he received for this incident is unlikely to change the way he feels about the situation he’s in.
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Sunday’s reaction to one moment is all it may take to put the final nail in his coffin. His job as Mets manager is in name only. He’s not the man calling the shots. For the remainder of his stay with the team, he’s just filler until the next candidate comes along.