Mickey Callaway and Jason Vargas outright embarrassed themselves on Sunday after a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs. A very frustrated manager watched his only reliable pitching arm give up a 3-2 lead to the Cubs. A very frustrated Mickey Callaway got sarcastic and insulting towards Tim Healey of Newsday in his post-game press conference. After everything that happened, Mickey Callaway could not control himself in Healey’s presence, resulting in the media revolt that has occurred. The Mets only fined Mickey Callaway and Jason Vargas $10,000. There is a few problems here, and they revolve around Jason Vargas.
From everything we have learned since the Sunday incident, Vargas seemed to take it upon himself to challenge Healey to a fight after Callaway’s second blowup, this time when Healey said “see you tomorrow” in an honest tone. Callaway responded by letting off a bunch of expletives to Healey. Vargas came in, challenging Healey to a fight. Carlos Gomez and Noah Syndergaard pulled Vargas away from Healey while other players asked PR to remove Healey. Healey left on his own without continuing anything.
Jason Vargas did not pitch in Sunday’s game. He is only standing up for his manager in a place where under no circumstances should he have ever been involved. It may seem commendable that a player has the back of his manager; this is not an on-field argument with the opposing manager. This is a member of the media, whose job is to report what is seen and find out what the manager has to say It is part of the baseball business. Under normal circumstances, Mickey Callaway should be telling Jason Vargas to stay out of this. However, when Mickey cannot control himself, clearly the pitcher does not have to.
The media has spent a lot of time talking about Mickey Callaway and the front office in this disaster and it is justifiable to do so. However, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out on Twitter Tuesday, basically the $10,000 fine is now saying, for $10,000, you can assault (or attempt) any reporter who is there to do their job. Vargas’ contract pays him an average of $30,000 per out. Under no circumstances should a player be threatening anyone with the media.
Jeff Wilpon wasted no time apologizing to Tim Healey for the incident. While it is commendable that the ownership is able to keep a straight face and do that, it goes without saying that the Mets brass has a history of wanting to look good media-wise. They crave positive public relations and one of their players trying to assault a reporter would be considered a bad-look. All the organization did was fine the manager and pitcher both $10,000. A suspension for both is the right route here. Now the ball is in Major League Baseball’s court who are actively investigating the incident.
It is hard to not remember the 1990 incident between Detroit Tigers pitcher and now Hall of Famer Jack Morris and the late Jennifer Frey, who was an intern for the Detroit Free Press. Frey, then just 22, came into the clubhouse after a game in July and approached Morris for a post-game interview. Morris’ words were: “I don’t talk to people when I’m naked, especially women, unless they’re on top of me or I’m on top of them.” Frey left Morris alone after that incredibly misogynist statement on his part. However, things got worse when Bo Schembechler, the president of the Tigers and former Michigan football coach, told her editor, the late Neal Shine, that he does not approve of women in the clubhouse. That made things incredibly worse.
Jack Morris blamed the media in February 1991 for the incident between him and Frey. Morris felt they were portraying him in a bad light. He told Charlie Vincent of The Free Press that his wife did not talk to him for three weeks and he only got a letter of support for his words to the young intern. “You guys have created something in the public’s opinion that is something I’m really not. I don’t know of anybody who has done more or given more than I have. If that sounds true, arrogant or egotistical, it’s not. It’s true.” Essentially, all he did was play victim in the idea that Frey was the aggressor.
As Dave McKenna noted in an article for Deadspin, that everyone should read, Jennifer Frey joined the Philadelphia Daily News in 1991 and was covering the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays American League Championship Series. There, she ran into Morris, now a member of the Twins. According to a friend of Frey’s to McKenna, Morris called her an expletive. She called him an expletive in return, and Morris attempted to go after him before being restrained by teammate Kirby Puckett. Morris was never punished for that and refused to talk to McKenna when they reached out about this. No surprise really.
The reason the “Morris/Frey incident” is important is because of Morris’ treatment of Frey and how poorly Major League Baseball handles these types of incidents. Many members of the media had Frey’s back in her incident with Morris. The reporters are together in Healey’s case. An attempt by a player to attack a member of the media is absolutely illegal and should be dealt with swiftly.
Punish Jason Vargas, Rob Manfred. Clearly the Mets will not.
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