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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Probably Not Such a Nice Guy

It wasn’t that long ago, yet it was long enough ago that it was a face-to-face conversation (remember those?). The topic was Met managers of very recent past and very near future. Mickey Callaway was ex-manager of the Mets by then. The person I was talking to was somebody whose observations I appreciated as earned and accurate. When the topic turned to Callaway, I prefaced my own impression — that he wasn’t particularly well-suited to the job from which he’d been removed — with the caveat “I’m sure he was a nice guy,” because, frankly, Callaway seemed nice enough on radio and TV when not trying to explain away losses, and, also frankly, I didn’t want to come off as somebody simply piling on a guy who nobody seemed all that sad to see go. Mostly, it’s one of those things you say before saying something worse about somebody.

This person, who would have known a lot more than I did about what kind of guy Mickey Callaway was, looked at me as if I were the DiamondVision version of Mercury Mets leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson, which is to say like I had a third eye embedded in my forehead. C+C Music Factory had a song for situations of this nature, the one about things that make you go “hmmmm…”

There wasn’t much elaborating to go with the look and I didn’t ask for any. As noted, Callaway was no longer the manager, and, besides, I wasn’t exactly digging for dirt, just taking part in a friendly chat, so I didn’t pursue what this person really thought or what might have been at the root of the reaction. But I left the conversation thinking Mickey Callaway might not have been such a nice guy.

On Monday night, the Athletic reported Callaway “aggressively pursued at least five women who work in sports media, sending three of them inappropriate photographs and asking one of them to send nude photos in return.” It’s pretty damning stuff, extending back to Callaway’s years with Cleveland, threading through his tenure managing the Mets, and continuing in Anaheim. You can read the story by Brittany Ghiroli and Katie Strang here. The Angels, who currently employ Callaway as their pitching coach, said they “will conduct a full investigation with MLB,” which seems like a reasonable immediate next step to announce when a story like this breaks.

It also seems reasonable to admit I have no idea who is or isn’t a nice guy at first or maybe thousandth distant glance, certainly not if I have no first-hand experience with the person in question — even if it’s a person I want to think of as a nice guy mainly because he’s a Mets guy.

When the Mets hire for a high-profile position somebody with whom I have little if any familiarity, I tend to lean to the benefit of the doubt. I read the initial profiles, watch the introductory press availability, pick out the encouraging aspects and write something upbeat. I prefer to think whatever the Mets are doing isn’t a bad idea. Hiring Mickey Callaway seemed like not a bad idea. Hiring Jared Porter seemed like not a bad idea. People presumably in the know spoke highly of both of them. Callaway was said to be a ready-made manager, Porter an ideal GM. Porter is out of baseball — and I would guess Callaway will be soon — because of the things nobody felt secure speaking of publicly.

Porter was the Mets’ problem until they disassociated themselves from him quickly. Callaway is not directly the Mets’ problem in 2021, but it didn’t take Woodward and Bernstein to ascertain that, like Porter, he was hired by Sandy Alderson. We learned in the aftermath of the Porter revelation that “did you ever engage in harassing behavior toward a female reporter?” was not a question that was asked in the hiring process. If it wasn’t asked of Porter in 2020, it likely wasn’t asked of Callaway in 2018. That the subject apparently needs to be broached in baseball — or any field — is incredibly sad. That people trying to do their job have to put up with the kinds of come-ons that Porter and allegedly Callaway considered fair game…well, yeech.

Not nice is an understatement. Consider the benefit of the doubt suspended for the foreseeable future.

15 comments to Probably Not Such a Nice Guy

  • Daniel Hall

    We only have the best people, it seems. The very best people…….

    Well. Due to my “disagreeable lifestyle choices” (quoting Murph liberally) I occasionally float around on sites where you can meet other people with the same disagreeable lifestyle choices. The amount of gay guys that will freely send you graphic documentation of their ****, without invitation or even when expressly requesting not to, is probably at least 10-15%.

    Transpose that number to MLB, there should be a couple of dozen managers, GMs, coaches, front office brainiacs etc. that are filthy swine. Players, of course, too. (They’re all male. It’s not like straight guys have different brains or something…) There are many, many, MANY more stories of … “graphic documentation” being sent around (and women being thrown through glass doors and stuff) that we just haven’t heard about. I am not shocked, not even surprised. I literally feel like “oh, he too”. There’s almost certainly a filthy prick on every roster. I just blend out the thought when watching a game. But now that a couple of these stories have come out in short succession, that might start a cascade effect that brings Baseball into its Harvey Weinstein era…

    • Daniel Hall

      A Hall of Fame discussion, December 2045.

      “Jim-Bob Taterfield won six batting titles and dished 651 homers in his career. First-Ballot Hall of Famer!”
      – “But he’s also a wife-beater. We can’t elect wife-beaters to the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
      “What about all the wife-beaters that are already in the Hall of Fame?”

      I have seen the future and I am filled with much foreboding.

  • Jpb

    When asked if the Mets had talked to any women about Porter, Cohen gave a Ralph Kramden hummadeh, hummadeh style answer.

    I’m betting Sandy would do the same regarding Callaway.

    Maybe it’s time the Mets got a little more due diligence into their hiring.

  • eric1973

    When Callaway was hired, after his opening presser, I said he appeared to be a bullshit artist, and his daily press conferences beared this out. Of course, never expected this, which appears, at this point, to have really happened. So long, Mickey.

    Of deeper concern, is that Sandy found out in AUG 2018 that something happened in Cleveland, and it was investigated by Sandy at that point….. all in secret, apparently. Now I am not saying that THAT should have been revealed, only that Sandy apparently has the investigative capabilities of Inspector Clouseau.

    Will it cost him his job as well?

    • Sandy was sidelined by cancer treatments by then.

      If we consider all who could have performed better, let’s start with Mickey Callaway, a presumably responsible adult.

  • open the gates

    Well, when the Jared Porter thing went down about five minutes ago, I said, “At least Steve Cohen handled this better than the Wilpons would have.” Now that’s a little less of a hypothetical, isn’t it?

    And yes, I’d like to introduce MLB to a lil’ ol’ thing called the MeToo movement. Funny how those guys can get all self-satisfied about their BLM moments, when they’re not risking anything real by canceling games and such, yet they allow their teams to be run by Neanderthals like Porter and Callaway, and nobody says a thing. Real brave, guys. Real brave.

  • Paul

    Will former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips and former President Bill Clinton be opining on this controversy?

    I look forward to hearing WFAN talk show host Maggie Gray’s perspicacious and insightful thoughts on this topic.

  • Dave

    Daniel is absolutely right…baseball is entering its Harvey Weinstein (and countless others, but I’m fine with him being the poster boy for sexual misconduct) era.

    Here’s what happens. Team (all men, virtually all white) has a position to fill, these men interview men (virtually all white) for the job, and then to do their, for lack of a better term, due diligence, they ask other men (again, virtually all white) about him. And baseball then asks, with a straight face, are we doing everything we can about diversity and showing that we respect everyone, all fans, all employees? Clearly there are a few things missing in the way they vet candidates. One thing never missing is the **** that Daniel references as being photographed and shared when it should be neither. Those are always involved.

    (Trigger warning for those who don’t like stereotypes about athletes) We all went to high school, we all remember what a lot of the athletes were like. Some weren’t exactly “woke” when it came to how to treat women. That they’d (again, for lack of a better phrase) grow up and continue to mistreat women (or be homophobes) should come as no surprise. We all tend to root for our teams no matter who’s wearing the uniform (any Ranger fan my age who had to root for Derek Sanderson can confirm). But all of us need to demand better – much better – when it comes to what the team is supposed to represent. Who’s playing shortstop or who’s the pitching coach or whatever might not be as important as who’s in the White House, but we need to hold everyone to standards. Otherwise we as a society have none.

    • Dave

      And to be clear, I’m not accusing Derek Sanderson of any ill behavior…he was just a player Rangers fans hated and then he got traded to the Rangers. Purely for the sake of illustrating Jerry Seinfeld’s point that we root for the shirt more than what collection of almost random guys are wearing it.

  • eric1973

    Thanks, Greg, had forgotten the Sandy timeline as to when he was sidelined due to cancer treatments.

    Back in the day, these things were accepted by society, as the victims had no voice. Unfortunately, for the most part, they still do not, otherwise we would have found out about this right after Callaway hit ‘Send.’

  • Seth

    I knew he was a bad guy — always thought he had an evil beard. This doesn’t surprise me…

  • open the gates

    Dave – off-topic here, but speaking as a fellow old-time Rangers fan, remember in ’94 when a rumor went around just before the trade deadline that they were about to acquire Denis Potvin for the stretch run? That would have been…wrong. Just wrong.

    • Dave

      I don’t remember hearing that one…and I’m sure I’d remember hearing it, because it would’ve made me have a coronary :) That literally would’ve been the equivalent of the Mets acquiring Utley.

  • 9th string catcher

    I have a feeling an avalanche of disgusting reveals is about to fall throughout MLB. These are not isolated incidents – this is systmeic behavior in the MLB sandbox. If I’m the Mets, I follow the Marlins and hire a female GM right away. You’ve just had two disatrous high level hires and Sandy needs to redeem himself. Not only that but he can actually show some leadership and do something productive. Grab Corinne Landrey from the Phillies if you can – get some MLB East insider info and beef up the analytics department. Maybe Raquel Ferreira from the Red Sox. And you have Jean Afterman, an SVP with the Yankees of all things (you know, Kim Ng’s replacement?). There are tons of options rather than retreaded pervs. Time to get this right.

  • eric1973

    You mean Jean Afterperson?

    If we are going PC, might as well go all the way.