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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Mickey Callaway Is Already Fired

You know the story of Scheherazade, right? The Persian Empire’s ruler, angry to discover his wife had been unfaithful, decided to safeguard what he regarded as his royal prerogative by taking a virgin bride each night, beheading her in the morning, and replacing her with a new spouse. One imagine he would have run out of candidates in short order, but just go with it, OK? It’s the first paragraph; don’t be that guy.

One bride, Scheherazade, told the king a story, and it was so good that he was still listening in awe when dawn came. He spared her life for one more night so the story could continue — a high-wire act Scheherazade continued for 1,001 nights, until she finally she couldn’t wring anything more out of the story she’d been spinning and had to fashion a conclusion. But there was a happy ending, or at least the best outcome one could wring out of this literally medieval premise: The king had fallen in love with Scheherazade, so she became queen. The executioner’s ax never fell.

Occasionally, a major-league manager reaches the end of his contractual tenure and is not renewed rather than being fired. Very occasionally, this really is a mutual decision. Very, very occasionally, a manager steps down of his own accord amid handshakes and hugs and backslaps and general amity.

The safe assumption, though, is that every manager arrives pre-fired, with only the date of early termination to be filled in. Managers ostensibly get fired for various shopworn reasons: losing the clubhouse, underperforming players, questionable tactics, young players failing to develop, etc. But these reasons are all pretty vague and interchangeable — “losing the clubhouse” is baseball’s equivalent of loitering, a catch-all offense to sweep up undesirables. More basically, the manager’s story stops being interesting to the monarch. There are royal grimaces and sighs and yawns, courtiers whisper and avert their eyes, and then one morning the executioner is there, putting the whetstone aside and limbering up his shoulders.

I watched Sunday afternoon’s game with about three-quarters attention, which was about a quarter more than the Mets were paying. Noah Syndergaard was wonderful to no particular purpose, Robinson Cano gave baseball’s ever-vigilant Gossage wing more ammunition for a fusillade of Back in My Days, and in less than two hours the Mets had turned Sandy Alcantara into Sandy Koufax and the Marlins into world-beaters, or whatever you are after you’ve swept Brodie Van Wagenen and the Come Get Us Kids.

I was doing post-party chores throughout, looking over as I finished mopping or returned from taking out trash to see if anything good had happened down in Miami. (Spoiler: no. Heck, this one was a stinker from the second the Mets took the field in gray pants, blue tops and camo hats, a combination that in the civilian world would have a million significant others coming to a shocked halt and finally managing to say, “Oh honey no.”)

Sometimes a certain distance can be informative. For instance, on Sunday many Mets failures, whether big, medium or small, were followed by a shot of Mickey Callaway in the dugout, looking a) grim; b) glum; c) determined; d) some combination of the above. Most of the time I couldn’t hear the conversation, but honestly I didn’t need to. When the story’s going well and the monarch is pleased, you don’t need a million shots of Scheherazade describing the adornments of the summer palace of the emir of Whatsistan. When that starts being the focus … well, yeah.

Wow, I thought, that man is so fired.

I think Callaway thoroughly deserves to be fired. I also don’t think it will change a damn thing.

Baseball people sometimes talk about the game speeding up for a young player promoted above what he’s ready to do; I’ve always thought that applies to Callaway. All that happy talk about him as a communicator and thinker was at press conferences and during spring training; during and after games, when it’s more difficult, Mickey is either letting guys rot in the bullpen or on the bench, dry-humping relievers, making substitutions he shouldn’t and not making ones he should, or issuing stubborn one-size-fits-all pronouncements about roles. These failings are shared to a certain degree by many or even most managers — go find a fanbase whose collective opinion is “our manager’s bullpen management is exactly what it should be” — but Callaway has always managed to dig the hole deeper by following some dopey but unchallengeable baseball truism with unwise stabs at specificity. Saying you have faith, in say, Jason Vargas is dumb but straightforward; offering reasons why you have faith in Jason Vargas allows people to examine those reasons, which you don’t want.

But what would firing Callaway change? Will it make the Mets’ starters stop exploring peaks and valleys around sea-level mediocrity, teach Brandon Nimmo and Wilson Ramos to hit again, stop Michael Conforto from being dizzy, teach the Mets to play competent defense, cause Dallas Keuchel to show up and offer to play for free because he loves the game that much, or inspire Cano to run fast enough to satisfy the guy in the Promenade screaming about how Wally Backman would run hard even when he was just going to the kitchen to make microwave pizza?

Is there any chance that it will solve the actual problem? Will it cause the Wilpons to stop interfering in every damn thing, from who plays to what excuses are made? Hell, will it cause the Wilpons to sell the team and assume their proper station of moldering at some awful country club, tipping poorly and giving the gardeners hell about the pachysandra looking ragged?

I’m guessing it won’t solve that problem, which is the only one that really matters. I’m also guessing it won’t solve any of those other cosmetic problems that ultimately don’t.

When our latest Scheherazade is finally told that the story he’s been telling doesn’t need an ending, the Mets will turn to some rock-ribbed lifer, someone who in time-honored baseball tradition will be a steady, unimaginative hand on the tiller and not kick up a fuss about the boat having been holed below the waterline before he was given command. You’ll find that person standing next to Callaway during games, in fact — sometimes the foreshadowing’s downright hamhanded.

If you think Jim Riggleman‘s the answer to the Mets’ problems, I don’t know what to tell you, OK, I suppose that’s fine. When/if that day comes, I’ll even try to convince myself that it’s true. Because what choice will I have?

17 comments to Mickey Callaway Is Already Fired

  • Seth

    Or for the dyslexic among us, Mickey Callaway is already fried.

  • Bob

    Jason/Greg-
    Thanks for the excellent daily Bi-Coastal Met Fan therapy–just as helpful as my other 3 Doctors.-Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine & Dr. Howard!
    No, I wont compare Jerome & his brothers to the way the Mets team has been performing so far this year–that would be insult to Stooges!
    Hopefully, somehow, the Mets will get straightened out and we won’t get agiata all season!(yeah right!)
    Let’s Go Mets!

  • Jacobs27

    Scheherazade, Game of Thrones comes to an end, and the Mets looking like they’ve forgotten they’re supposed to be in the story at all…

    As narratives go, I heard Thor is invoking 2015 as a rallying cry. Well, Cespedes is set to make an appearance around the trade deadline… Maybe, you know… Nah. Not happening.

    Just about the only good thing about yesterday’s game was that it was played practically at video game pace. It almost felt like the the proverbial monarch was insta-simulating the top halves of each inning the way you can in those games if you don’t care about hitting and only want to pitch.

  • The game moves to fast for him is exactly what I think Mickey’s biggest problem is – at least the biggest one entirely within his control.

    I do think, at this point they should make a change, for change’s sake. I think we’ve seen enough of Mickey to know that we’ve seen enough of Mickey. Riggleman can’t do any worse and it will allow them the freedom to explore other options while maybe getting back to .500.

    As for me, I’ll be wearing my Teufel jersey tonight, and booing Robby Cano I suppose.

  • mikeL

    “Hell, will it cause the Wilpons to sell the team and assume their proper station of moldering at some awful country club, tipping poorly and giving the gardeners hell about the pachysandra looking ragged?”

    no but that image gives us all something very specific to focus upon, thank you.

    post-callaway, yes, this team may well still suck, but at least THEY won’t be able to hide behind their manager’s incompetence to explain away their failures.

    if the wilpons have any sense 2015-style possibility they’ll get cespedes back on the field before the NWTD…and trade him to houston for…yes, wilmer. snatched from life on a highly functioning team, history will repeat, albeit with a heavy dose of irony.

  • mikeL

    ^ ha! i had wilmer on houston in my own mind. still applies…

  • LeClerc

    Update:

    Cespedes stepped in a hole on his ranch and injured his leg.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Permit me to say, we now learn, re: Cespedes: “Ass meets hole.”

    But hey, Hector Santiago is finally up! Gagnon is starting! Lugo on DL! It’s all good, Brodie just said, in retaining Mick The Not So Quick.

  • Brody Van Wagenen

    I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished. Mickey is here to stay, we like our lineup, we’re having really good conversations, and most importantly everyone is loving one another.

  • mikeL

    forget my trade idea.
    if mets on DL/IL don’t reinjure their rehabbing parts before planned return, they’re not really trying.

    brodie gets one big fall guy sacrifice, then it’s on HIM.
    thusly, still mickey.

    glad we can stop predicting the return of yo. ever.
    2015 it is not.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    So, Cano and Nimmo are sitting tonight. Cano should have been Gil Hodgesed out of the game yesterday. And somehow, Wilmer Font is starting again tonight. Mets fans, welcome to Hell-vetica.

  • eric1973

    Obvious how Ces hurt his ankle:
    While playing GOLF, he slipped into a hole while retreiving his ball.

    BTW, we found out that the Miami scoreboard, on Friday, did indeed say ONE OUT, not two, and that yesterday, if you look at the tape, Cano was staring down at the ball the whole time —- so its Cano/Mickey BS that he looked up, down, and all around, and did not know the ball was fair. He knew the whole time it was fair, and he reacted with chagrin before he then caught himself and started arguing with the umpire.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Kelenic, age 19, key piece in Cano trade, hitting .308 in A ball,.908 OPS with fair number of HRs–that was the knock on him. Dunn, the key pitcher, at about 3.50 era in AA. Oh, they, don’t cost budget $100 million either…

  • JoeyBaguhDonuts

    Excellent column. My favorite pieces are when you hosts speak bluntly. Your thoughts sometimes strike directly because they’re familiar but sometimes they give a new look because they spin around the smoldering dumpster that is the Mets every mid-May since 2016. (I just checked.) It’s time for Brodie Van Wagon Train and those accursed Wilpons to notice we get discontented and disconnected every year as the team begin collapsing, this time on May 15. That’s disgraceful.

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