I really didn’t intend to write about the New York Mets on consecutive days. It’s not necessarily my idea of a grand time, but sometimes the odd teams do odd things that must be written about.
So here we are.
Were it not for the Rays deciding that they didn’t want to play in Tampa Bay any more, but also wanted to account for and protect themselves from the inevitable buyer’s remorse, this would be the oddest story of the season. We’ll have to settle for second-oddest.
Yesterday, two very important members of the Mets - manager Mickey Callaway and starting pitcher Jason Vargas - got into it with a beat reporter, largely unprovoked.
According to ESPN, the incident stemmed from a post-game press conference discussion about reliever usage against the Chicago Cubs. I know, I know - every San Francisco Giants fan reading this article is giggling a little bit at that.
With the Mets leading the Cubs 3-2, Callaway sent reliever Seth Lugo to the mound to start the seventh inning. It went well. So well, in fact, that Callaway kept Lugo out for the eighth inning, with New York still clinging to a one-run lead.
Lugo started the penultimate frame by allowing a leadoff single to Kyle Schwarber. Calloway kept him in, even with All-Star closer Edwin Diaz in the bullpen. After recording an out, Lugo walked Anthony Rizzo, who represented the go-ahead run.
Still, Callaway left him in, and three pitches later Javier Baez put one into the seats to give the Cubbies a 5-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Whatever. Not the end of the world. Managing is always easier in hindsight, Lugo has had a tremendous year, and going for five outs with a closer in a random June game is questionable.
Yet it’s certainly within a reporter’s purview to . . . you know . . . ask about these decisions, especially when they don’t work. So that’s what the Mets media did, in what was apparently a rather tense post-game scrum.
Here’s the video that exists of the scrum, in which Callaway seemed perfectly cheerful and polite while answering numerous questions about Diaz’s lack of appearance.
"He's our best reliever"— SNY (@SNYtv) June 23, 2019
Mickey Callaway explains why he kept Seth Lugo in during the eighth pic.twitter.com/HBxDmu8yCH
All seem’s well enough. But as Callaway left, Newsday beat reporter Tim Healey attempted to say goodnight, telling Callaway that he would, “See you tomorrow.”
Whoops. Wrong word choice.
Callaway apparently thought Healey was being sarcastic, and told him, “Don’t be a smartass.” That quickly escalated and “smartass” was replaced by a certain 12-letter obscenity, before Callaway asked Healey to leave the building.
Like a WWE wrestler leaving the ring in a tag team match, that brought Vargas into things, as he overheard his upset manager and wanted a piece of the reporter pie. Vargas came equipped with a line that I’m sure made him feel very cool - “I’ll knock you the [redacted] out, bro” - before Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Gomez restrained him.
That’s a lot to process.
Healey received a phone call apology from Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, and the organization fined both Callaway and Vargas for their actions. So at least they handled things swiftly and, by the sounds of it, correctly.
Callaway addressed the situation on Monday, in a very sports competitor type of way. He didn’t really express regret or apologize, but rather just suggested that everyone will be able to move on from an “unfortunate” case of a “misunderstanding.”
"It was a misunderstanding, obviously," Mickey Callaway said of his role in last night's clubhouse altercation. pic.twitter.com/IisUOxEJu4— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 24, 2019
And, just to really tie things together, on Monday the NBA’s New York Knicks were fined for blacklisting the New York Daily News from their post-draft press conference.
The Knicks have been fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating the league's rules regarding equal access for media.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 24, 2019
In summation, those New York teams aren’t doing so well with that infamous media scene.