The high point of the Mets’ existence on Sunday, and not inconceivably of their entire season, came when the team’s Twitter account attempted to dunk on ... well, on Mets fans. Specifically those who had reacted to the posting of the day’s relatively punchless lineup with horror and disgust and presumably lots of those laughing-crying emojis.
Just as a general thing, I strongly encourage the Mets’ social media person not to read the replies, ever; it’s not healthy down there. The urge to take a victory lap here must’ve been strong. But I’m not sure “scoring three runs through five innings” is worth the victory lap, and it was definitely premature to take it while the game was still going on. You know how this story ends, even if you don’t “know”: The Mets did not score any more runs, and their bullpen blew the lead, and they lost.
And it was all downhill after that. Manager Mickey Callaway got into it with Newsday beat writer Tim Healey, and tried to get PR staff to force him to leave the clubhouse, and then Jason Vargas tried to fight Healey? All very messy and Metsy, but now we have Healey’s version of events to help sort out what happened.
Callaway was angered by a series of question from reporters on his decision not to go to closer Edwin Diaz in the eighth inning, instead sticking with Seth Lugo, who allowed the three-run home run that proved the difference in the game. Callaway snapped at one reporter that he’s not going to use Diaz for five outs “just because you think so.”
After wrapping up with Callaway, the reporters went into the clubhouse to talk to players, Healey told Newsday that Callaway emerged from his office fully dressed, having changed out of his uniform.
“Mickey came out of his office, dressed, and I thought he was leaving for the day, so I said, ‘See you tomorrow, Mickey,’ ” Healey said. “And then he said, ‘Don’t be a smart-ass.”
I’m not entirely sure why this set Callaway off, but one possibility is that he thought Healey was implying that Callaway could be shortly fired and would not actually see him tomorrow. Callaway’s job security is basically zero at this point, with most observers expecting his firing to come any day now, and the remainder wondering why it hasn’t happened already. Callaway’s bullpen use is held up as a primary reason why he shouldn’t be running this team, so losing a game with Lugo on the mound certainly felt like it could’ve been a final straw.
Whatever angered Callaway, he wouldn’t drop it. Healey said Callaway cursed at him, stormed off, then after a few minutes came back and continued to yell at the reporter.
“I couldn’t confidently tell you exactly what he said, but he said, ‘You know we’re going to be in a bad mood after a loss,’ or something like that. And I tried to tell him, I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just saying I’ll see you tomorrow. And then he said, ‘Get this guy out of here,’ and that got the attention of Jason Vargas.”
Healey said he noticed Vargas staring at him and asked him if there was something he wanted to say.
“He said, ‘I’ll knock you out right here’ and then took a couple of steps toward me,” Healey said. “Some people said charged — charged is super-strong.”
Mets media relations manager Ethan Wilson got between Healey and Vargas while other players, Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Gomez among them, moved in to make sure the pitcher remained at a distance. Healey said he walked away at that stage.
If Callaway was upset that the story of the day was going to be his bullpen usage, well, mission accomplished? It’s now this instead. Healey said he received a phone call from owner Jeff Wilpon apologizing on behalf of the entire organization. The team also issued a public statement:
“The Mets sincerely regret the incident that took place with one of our beat writers following today’s game in the clubhouse. We do not condone this type of behavior from any employee. The organization has reached out and apologized to this reporter and will have further discussions internally with all involved parties.”
In what could be an ominous development for Callaway’s employment status, GM Brodie Van Wagenen is expected to join the team today on its road trip. Healey will be there too. Will Callaway?
The Mets are 37-41, which is not nearly a bad enough record for this level of drama.