A few minutes after the manager's enlightening media opportunity concluded, Tim Healey of Newsday passed him and said, "See you tomorrow, Mickey." Callaway responded by asking the reporter not to be a smart-aleck and, for good measure, and added a 12-letter noun. He would repeat the 12-letter characterization while demanding Healey be removed from the premises. (Which, per MLB rules, isn't how clubhouses work.)
By then, pitcher Jason Vargas was staring at Healey. Said Vargas: “I’ll knock you out, bro.” He, too, added a colloquialism. Vargas began to move toward Healey, whereupon two teammates and the Mets’ PR representative interceded. By evening’s end, Mets owner Jeff Wilpon had called Healey to apologize. A mass email expressed the team’s desire to hold “further discussions” with those involved.
Back to the non-usage of Diaz. Asked if the Mets might, uh, reconsider the apparent policy to eschew five-but-not-four-out saves, Callaway said: “Just because you think so? Absolutely not. We have a very good plan. We know what we are doing, and we are going to stick to it.’’
From Kevin Kernan of the New York Post: "The plan is so good the Mets are four games under .500 and have not won a road series in 81 days."
As we speak, the only race in the NL East is to see which manager gets fired first. Like Callaway, Philadelphia’s Gabe Kapler and Washington’s Dave Martinez are in their second season. None has a winning record. Each seems in over his head.
Kapler’s Phillies spent half a billion in offseason additions and have lost seven in a row and 16 of 22. They’ve gone from 3-1/2 games ahead of the Braves to 6-1/2 back in 26 days. On Thursday, Kapler moved Bryce Harper to leadoff. The Phils spent the weekend getting swept at home by Miami for the first time in 10 years. On Sunday, the Fish outhit the Phils 16-4. Kapler misses no chance to say the Phillies “play as a team.” Last week Jean Segura and Cesar Hernandez forgot to hustle. Neither was benched. Go, team!
Martinez’s Nats have the second-best run differential among Eastern teams. They have the best starting pitching. They might have the second-best everyday eight. They haven’t been above .500 since April 18. Last year they finished above .500 – and then only at 82-80 – by going 5-1 against the Marlins in the final two weeks. These are the Nats who’d made room for Martinez by firing Dusty Baker, who’d led them to consecutive division titles. Moral of our story: Be careful in thy wishing.
The Mets, as ever, are a special case. They have Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zach Wheeler and Diaz. They also have the 10th-best ERA in the National League. Last week they fired pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez — the same Chuck Hernandez fired as Braves pitching coach last October — and hired Phil Regan, who’s 82. (Not a misprint.) Also of note: The Mets’ general manager is Brodie Van Wagenen, previously the agent for deGrom and Syndergaard. Seasons come and go, but the search for baseball’s silliest organization always begins in Flushing, N.Y.
Each of the above clubs made more offseason moves than the Braves. Such motion has enabled the three to compile a collective record of 113-119. The Phillies, Nats and Mets will surely spend more money before the trade deadline, but that will be throwing good money after bad. These are flawed teams with substandard managers. They’re going nowhere fast.
This division is again the Braves’ to lose, which might be surprising — they’re now working without their top starter and closer from last season — until we concede that Brian Snitker is the best manager in this division by such a distance he’s about to lap the field. Not coincidentally, so is his team.