Mickey Callaway reportedly harassed five female reporters

The former Mets manager and current Angels pitching coach's offenses spanned more than five years.

Yet another Major League Baseball figure has been named as a chronic harasser of women. Recently, it was former Mets GM Jared Porter. This week, it’s former Mets manager and current Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway. Brittany Ghiroli and Katie Strang of The Athletic report that Callaway “aggressively pursued” at least five women, including sending three of them inappropriate photos and soliciting nudes from one.

Callaway’s offenses spanned at least five years during which Callaway worked for three different teams (the Indians, Mets, and Angels). What all five accounts have in common is that Callaway used his status as a coach and as a manager to attempt to blur the lines between professional and personal. He also exploited the power imbalance between himself and the female reporters, many of them relatively new to the industry at the time.

Per Ghiroli and Strang, seven other women said that while they weren’t personally approached by Callaway, they were cautioned by other women about his lecherous behavior. One of the women called Callaway’s behavior “the worst-kept secret in sports.”

The Mets told The Athletic that they were informed in August 2018 of an incident involving Callaway. The club investigated it but didn’t say what the outcome of that investigation was. The Mets hired Callaway in October 2017 and fired him in October 2019, clearly related to the team’s performance and not to any extracurricular incidents. The Indians didn’t respond to a request to comment while the Angels gave a boilerplate response, saying it “will conduct a full investigation with MLB.”

. . .

Callaway’s questionable conduct was also on display in July 2019. Jeff McNeil was speaking to the media as he was on the verge of adopting a puppy. He said, “My wife just has to approve,” Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News reported. Unprompted, Callaway chimed in, “A real man wouldn’t need to ask his wife for approval.”

Additionally, in June 2019, Callaway and pitcher Jason Vargas cursed out and threatened Tim Healey, a Mets beat writer for Newsday. Healey said, “See you tomorrow, Mickey,” which the duo took to be sarcastic. They were, perhaps, a bit sensitive following a loss that completed a series sweep at the hands of the Cubs. Callaway called Healey a “motherfucker” and demanded he leave the clubhouse. Callaway and Vargas then stared Healey down and Vargas threatened, “I’ll knock you the fuck out, bro.”

The Mets publicly apologized to Healey and put out a public statement, promising to have “further discussions internally with all involved parties.”

. . .

When Alderson spoke to the media following the Porter report, Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports asked him if he had consulted any women about Porter during the hiring process. Alderson said no. Porter had otherwise received glowing reviews from men in the industry.

While most or all of Callaway’s harassment may have taken place outside of his stint with the Mets, it was still the “worst-kept secret in sports.” Alderson is now one of many common denominators between two serial harassers of female reporters. Not only should the Angels get rid of Callaway, the Mets should get rid of Alderson, currently in the role of team president. At best, he’s guilty of a dereliction of duty and at worst, he ignored rampant sexual harassment.

It is important not just for the serial harasser, Callaway, to be held accountable; it is equally important for his enablers to be held accountable as well. You have to pull the weed out by its roots, and those roots are men in high positions of power – many of whom are harassers and abusers themselves – protecting other men in the industry. And won’t be until the power structures across Major League Baseball are radically changed that women will feel safe enough to do their jobs.

One of the women said that when Callaway pursued her via text messages, “I was just trying to be nice; he was the manager.” She was simply trying to do her job, getting quotes from Callaway to provide insight and analysis for her readers. She was forced to choose between being able to do her job or removing herself from an uncomfortable situation. These five women, and the reporter that Porter harassed, aren’t the only women dealing with this. Making systemic changes, which includes holding powerful people accountable, will cut down on the number of obstacles women face for doing the same job as men.

. . .

Kevin Clancy, known as KFC Barstool from Barstool Sports (the Breitbart of sportswriting), made a few regrettable tweets following the Callaway news, but I want to highlight one in particular:

Clancy focuses on “sexts,” but this isn’t about sexting. Sexting is perfectly fine if it’s consensual. This is about a power imbalance. The female reporters, due to the power imbalance, effectively weren’t able to consent. Common examples of power imbalances are parent-child, teacher-student, and cop-citizen, but there are myriad others in a spectrum. Reporter-athlete, reporter-coach, and reporter-front office executive are among them. Callaway has power over the reporter because his cooperation or lack thereof reflects on the quality of the reporter’s work. If she doesn’t have quotes, her work suffers. Thus, the reporter is dependent on Callaway’s cooperation. Callaway can dangle his cooperation as a carrot while manipulating the reporter into agreeing (or at least not saying “no” explicitly) to risqué behavior. Of course, Callaway also sent text messages and pictures without consent as well.

Furthermore, the Mets didn’t need to run “FBI background checks” to learn about Porter or Callaway. Alderson said the team didn’t consult with any women about the Porter hire. It seems reasonable to assume the same is true about Callaway. If the organization hired more women and if they spoke with more women across the industry, they might not even have given him an interview in the first place. Remember, Callaway’s behavior was the “worst-kept secret in sports.” We’re not cracking the “Zodiac” killer’s cipher here.

Porter and Callaway are certainly just the tip of the iceberg. Ghiroli, in fact, shared a story of her experience with an unnamed player while she was on her third year on the Orioles’ beat in 2012. For Bleacher Report, Abbrey Mastracco detailed an experience with a staff member of a hockey team she was covering in the fall of 2014. Many others shared Ghiroli and Mastracco’s articles on social media while adding they had faced similar issues reporting in male-dominated industries. MLB needs a thorough, transparent accounting and a transformation of its power structure. Otherwise, these incidents will continue to pop up and the league will be forced to play an endless, reactionary game of whack-a-mole.

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MLBPA Rejects MLB’s 2021 Proposal

On Monday, the MLB Players Association officially rejected a proposal concerning the 2021 season submitted by Major League Baseball. The proposal called for shortening the regular season to 154 games, expanded playoffs, and the DH rule in the National League.

You may recall that, last year, the pandemic caused the season to be shortened to 60 games with expanded playoffs and a DH rule. MLB and the MLBPA went back and forth on various proposals in May and June but ultimately couldn’t reach an agreement. Thus, under the power granted by a temporary agreement reached back in March, commissioner Rob Manfred enacted the 2020 season with a handful of changes including the aforementioned as well as prorated pay.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1. Any ground the MLBPA willingly gives up in negotiations in order to facilitate a 2021 season can be used against them for the upcoming CBA. MLB’s CBA typically spans five years, which is a long time. Thus, the MLBPA takes these negotiations seriously, as it should.

The owners want to delay the start of the regular season by one week, which doesn’t seem like much, but A) allows them a greater concentration of games that fans might be able to attend (and in greater numbers) and B) gives fans, players, coaches, stadium workers, et. al. a little more time to get vaccinated. MLB said as much in a statement on Monday night in response to the MLBPA.

Of course, that line of reasoning is farcical considering how little MLB was concerned about public health and player health last season. During the NLCS and World Series at Globe Life Park, mask-wearing was not strictly enforced nor was social distancing. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who tested positive for COVID-19 during the sixth and final game of the World Series, was allowed back onto the field to celebrate with his teammates, including without wearing a mask at times. The league saw two COVID-19 outbreaks within the Marlins and Cardinals during the regular season as well.

The owners are playing the “public health” angle and trying to make the union out to be the difficult one, saying that its suggestions were “overwhelmingly popular with our fans” and that “this was a good deal that reflected the best interests of everyone involved.”

Here’s the real motivation. MLB wants expanded playoffs because it makes a larger percentage of its money from playoff TV revenues, especially during a pandemic. This is why they kept offering a significantly lower amount of regular season games last season while the union started above 100 games and lowered with every subsequent proposal, even offering a 72-game season. Manfred ultimately settled on 60.

Additionally, by expanding the playoffs, MLB adds more randomness into the equation, thereby diluting the importance of elite players. To use an extreme example, imagine a playoff system where only two teams make the postseason, like we had before 1969. The Yankees were in the World Series 15 times between 1947-64, winning 10 times. They had legendary players throughout that span of time like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra. Elite players give you not just elite talent but consistency as well. On the other hand, consider a playoff format where all 30 teams reach the postseason. How important is a legendary player like Mike Trout if your playoff hopes rest on a highly volatile five-game series (Division Series) or seven-game series (Championship Series or World Series)? If elite talent doesn’t matter as much, you have no incentive to pay elite players. Thus, salaries are depressed in such a system.

On its face, adding the DH to the National League would appear to open up potential jobs for one-dimensional corner OF/1B types. But for that to be the union’s haul in exchange for expanded playoffs and a reduced regular season, setting a precedent for future CBA negotiations? The proposal is extremely lopsided. MLB is using the pandemic, as it has done for so many other things, as a way to implement owner-friendly rules that A) make them more money and B) allow them to spend less money.

Nolan Arenado Trade Finally Complete

Monday night’s news cycle was rounded out by the completion of the Nolan Arenado trade. The Rockies sent Nolan Arenado and a significant amount of cash to the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Austin Gomber, infielder Elehuris Montero, pitcher Tony Locey, infielder Mateo Gil and pitcher Jake Sommers.

I wrote about the Arenado trade on Saturday after it was initially reported. For Arenado-specific analysis, check that out. At the time, the Rockies’ return was not yet known, so let’s go over their haul.

Gomber, 27, worked out of both the rotation and the bullpen for the Cardinals in 2018 and ’20. He had limited action in ’19 due to biceps and shoulder issues. Across his 104 innings in the big leagues, he has allowed 43 earned runs on 46 hits and 47 walks with 94 strikeouts. Though both samples are small, Gomber has pitched better out of the rotation than out of the bullpen, owning a 3.47 ERA in the former and 4.31 in the latter. Gomber has a typical starter’s arsenal: four-seamer, slider, curve, change. His splits are pedestrian across the board; he has no particular affinity for missing bats or for inducing ground balls, for example. The move from Busch Stadium to Coors Field likely won’t do him any favors, either, so this is primarily a depth get for the Rockies.

Montero, 22, was the Cardinals’ No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He has exclusively played third base in the minors, but he could end up at first base or in an outfield corner depending on how the Rockies choose to develop him. His 2019 numbers in his first stint at Double-A as well as in the Arizona Fall League, were unimpressive, posting a respective .562 and .633 OPS. Scouts like his power and he has a great arm – hence playing third base – but there’s a lot of projection left.

Locey, 22, ranked No. 19 in the Cardinals’ system. He briefly pitched out of the bullpen at Single-A Peoria in 2019, serving up 10 earned runs over 17 innings with 31 strikeouts and 12 walks. It’s still unclear if the Rockies view him as a starter or as a reliever. He typically sits in the mid-90’s, but can ramp up to the high-90’s, especially if he’s not attempting to preserve his energy like a starter would. Locey likely won’t be tasked with facing major league talent until the 2022 season at which point it should be clearer what his role will be.

Gil, 20, is the son of former major leaguer Benji Gil. He earned a No. 22 rating from MLB Pipeline. Gil spent most of 2019 in rookie ball, where he posted a .756 OPS over 225 trips to the plate. Scouts largely rave about his defensive capabilities as a shortstop, particularly his “internal clock” and throwing accuracy. The big question is his bat. If he can develop into a league average bat, he could have a long MLB career, but if he doesn’t develop well as a hitter, he could fall off the organizational depth chart in a hurry.

Sommers, 23, was not in MLB Pipeline’s top-30 for the Cardinals. The righty, selected by the Cardinals in the 10th round of the 2019 draft, posted a 4.18 ERA over 51 2/3 innings in the rookie Appalachian League. Minor league stats are highly volatile, but you like to see more strikeouts than innings pitched and a ratio of strikeouts-to-walks approaching three-to-one. Sommers is still a couple of seasons, at minimum, away from the majors and he’ll be tasked with making his stuff play at Coors Field.

In this deal, the Rockies got a cost-controlled major league pitcher, the Cardinals’ No. 8, 19, and 22 prospects, as well as an unranked prospect. They’re not bad players, but it is a highly speculative return. It’s also not exactly the haul you’d expect for a third baseman who many think could end up as one of the greatest third basemen of all-time, and perhaps the greatest defensive third baseman of all-time.

But this is the reality of Major League Baseball right now. Many teams are openly looking to shed salary, which greatly reduces their leverage in trade negotiations. Thus, teams like the Cardinals pounce on teams like the Rockies, picking up their star players for pennies on the dollar. The Cubs and Rays had similarly light returns on Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, respectively. (Both went to the Padres.)

Here's how the Rockies announced the finalized deal on Monday night:

Four words and an emoji is all you need. Rockies owner Dick Monfort and GM Jeff Bridich weren’t held at gunpoint to trade Arenado. They willingly traded their five-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner on the cheap. Shortstop Trevor Story, Arenado’s former teammate, said the trade “hurts.” He told Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, “I’m sad and a little frustrated, to be honest.”

Story is one of the best shortstops in the game at the moment. He can become a free agent after the season. As a result, the Rockies might approach him about a contract extension, but given his current disillusionment, he may not be open to sticking with a team that is otherwise pawning off its stars.

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