Saturday, May 25, 2024

Mickey Callaway’s claims show baseball is always ready to protect predators

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I don’t know how to put it more clearly than this: stop hiring predators. Stop defending predatory goosebumps.

Athletic released a report on Mickey Callaway on Monday – the former Mets manager and current Angels pitching coach – and his alleged history of harassing women in sports media, during his stops in Cleveland, New York and Los Angeles.

Five women spoke to The Athletic and detailed their encounters and interactions with Callaway. Seven others said they had been made aware of Callaway’s past behavior.

“It was the least kept secret in sport”, one of the women told Athletic.

Think about it for a minute.

It’s exactly that.

It was the worst kept secret in the industry because industry players determined it was okay for it to remain a secret. It is inexcusable.

And this report was on the heels of ESPN’s report that Jared Porter – who had been hired as the Mets general manager in December 2020 – harassed a foreign reporter with over 60 unanswered text messages over a period of several weeks in 2016 while he was the Cubs’ professional scouting director, culminating with a photo of a naked penis. After sending this photo, the woman – a foreign correspondent who moved to the United States for work – finally responded, telling her that her messages were extremely offensive.

Shortly after the release of ESPN’s report, Porter was fired. Callaway was suspended by the Angels – he was fired as manager of the Mets in October 2019 for reasons of team performance and hired as the Angels pitching coach a few weeks later – pending completion of investigation.

If you’ve read the report in The Athletic, a pretty clear picture was painted. Text messages were posted. Other messages were viewed by journalists and the legal team. The proof of Callaway’s reprehensible behavior is there. He has used his position of power to harass these women in sports media, without even trying to cover his tracks. An example: when he was the manager of the Mets, he promised a reporter that if she got drunk with him, he would give her inside information about the club. Callaway’s behavior is a classic example of why women may be reluctant to come forward.

And yet, he still denies any wrongdoing. Again.

Is there a more damning indictment against the industry than this? The baseball folks knew who Callaway was and how he acted, and their silence was all the approval he needed. Why would he stop? Why would he even think he was wrong?

The silence must end.

Let’s be clear on this point as well: the responsibility of stopping these predators does not lie solely – or even primarily – with the women who are harassed. In almost all cases, both with Porter and Callaway and the countless examples before them, the behavior was reported either to a colleague at the company or to the team / company the stalker was working for. And far too often nothing has happened.

That’s why Porter has always been hired for the role of general manager of the Mets years after he harassed the reporter in Chicago. This is why Callaway was hired for the Mets executive post after his behavior in Cleveland, and why he was hired for the Angels pitching coach job after his increasingly rude behavior in New York City, and why this behavior continued with his move to California for work. for the angels.

And, yes, the fact that these two have both been hired by the Mets – by Sandy Alderson, in particular, on two different occasions with the club – has not been overlooked. It is an outrage over Alderson’s hiring practices, without a doubt, that these two have been “verified” and that these behaviors have not been found. What’s the point of even a well-intentioned verification process that doesn’t ask the right questions or ask the right people? If you scoop up kitty litter with a grocery bag that has giant holes in the bottom, poop is still everywhere, no matter what your cleaning motivation is.

“At this point, it’s (Callaway’s) reputation,” one of the women told Athletic. “If they verify it, even an ounce of his personal life should reveal it.”

And the Mets are not alone here. It is an industry problem. Remember how the Astros aggressively defended Brandon Taubman in 2019, after verbally harassing a group of female journalists covering the ALCS Championship celebration, without provocation? The Houston front office issued a press release attacking journalist who wrote about the incident, Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, calling her article “misleading and completely irresponsible” even though it turned out that Taubman was the one. who was lying. These two ex-Mets should be – finally – the end of the line for men who behave this way, who use their positions of power to harass and intimidate those who are simply looking to do their job.

For too long the actions and behaviors of men like Callaway and Porter have been swept under the rug, offenders have been slapped on the wrist or spoken harshly.

The sad truth is that the only way to make sure this doesn’t happen seems to be to go public.

But it’s crazy, isn’t it? How did we get to this point – as a company and as a baseball industry? How could these monsters, these predators, not only survive but thrive? How are they those who have been protected and pampered, their actions and behaviors not only excused, but justified in some way or another? It must stop. And it’s also ludicrous that the women who have been harassed by Porter and Callaway have to remain anonymous – although the damning evidence is anything but anonymous – for the very real fear of retaliation, not just from the Callaways and Porters in baseball. , but by those who allowed them to prosper. Perhaps, hopefully, one day they will be praised as the brave souls that they are.

The good thing, however? The solution must be quite simple: stop protecting the jacks. It is a goal that we can all work towards together. Those of us in the sports media cannot remain silent. Those who work in baseball front offices cannot look away. Allegations should be taken seriously.

And, yes, the intention to discern can sometimes be complicated. Individual text messages can be misinterpreted. The benefit of the doubt cannot go away. But Porter’s 60 unanswered text messages? Callaway’s role model that was baseball’s “least kept secret”? There are no shades of gray with cases like these.

The evidence against Porter and Callaway is there. They didn’t even try to hide their behavior.

Actions must have consequences.

The men in baseball – that’s what we’re talking about specifically here, even though that applies outside of this world as well – need to know that if they behave like this, they’re almost certainly going to lose their jobs because they are no longer protected by an insane code of silence. And, as with most things in life, the goal cannot be just to punish offenders for what they have done – the goal must be to prevent acts. Before they follow the frightening instinct for superiority that prompts them to send these messages and say these things in the first place, there has to be a thought in their mind to stop them.

And that brings up another point. The effort to prevent these actions cannot be limited to the threat of punishment, although this is a good first step. Those in leadership positions – with franchises, etc. – must create corporate cultures that provide a good working environment for all, based on respect for others. It is not a speech or a seminar once a year, but a way of life within the organization.

This is the long term goal. The first step, however? Stop protecting goose bumps.


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