Mickey Callaway couldn’t be more different from Terry Collins. Does that set him up for success or failure as the new manager of the Mets?
At 4 p.m. ET yesterday, the New York Mets introduced Mickey Callaway as the 21st manager of this storied National League franchise. Following the “resignation” of Terry Collins, the front office scrambled to find their next skipper, the man who would lead this team into the future but settled on Callaway relatively quickly. Based on his introduction to the New York Media today, here’s what we know.
His First Impression Sealed His Fate
Upon introducing Callaway at yesterday’s presser, general manager Sandy Anderson briefly touched on the process regarding the Mets’ managerial search. In addition to Callaway, other names like Joe McEwing, Kevin Long, and Manny Acta were tossed around, among others. Initially, the plan was to hold a second round of interviews, but Callaway’s first impression morphed into a lengthy interview that essentially won him the job on the spot. Sandy knew he had found his man almost immediately and as a result, all Mets fans have been spared the rigors of a long, drawn-out managerial search.
He’s a Complete Foil to Terry Collins
Terry Collins was a baseball lifer. After many years spent bouncing around the minor leagues, Collins transitioned into player development and eventually coaching. Terry’s time at the helm of the Mets was his third major league managerial gig, and his fourth if you count the two years he spent managing the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. To sum things up, Terry had been around the block when he came to the Mets. Callaway’s path to this position is remarkably different from that of Collins.
While Collins never was able to break into the major leagues, Callaway was a serviceable major league pitcher, mainly remembered as a key cog in the starting rotation that led the Anaheim Angels to a World Series Title in 2002. Arm injuries would go on to derail Callaway’s time as a player, but it was his time spent away from the game, rehabbing where he began to plot his future path into big league coaching.
After a successful comeback overseas and one last stab at the majors, Callaway hung up his spikes and joined the Cleveland Indians organization as a coach. After three seasons spent coaching in the minors, Callaway joined Terry Francona‘s staff as the Indians’ pitching coach, learning first hand from one of the best managers of this generation. It goes without saying that Callaway’s impact was paramount to the Indians success as they’ve possessed one of the most dominant pitching staffs over the last four seasons.
Born Out of the Sabermetrics Era, His Ambition is Unparalleled
When Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s revolutionized baseball in the early 2000s in what is popularly known as “Moneyball”, the rest of the league scrambled to fall in line and catch up. To paraphrase Jonah Hill’s character, which was loosely based on Paul DePodesta, the majority of Major League Baseball was stuck in the dark ages. From 2001 onward we saw the game of baseball evolve more dramatically than it had at any point in its history. The fallout of this revolution is that many players became early adopters in an effort to avoid sinking in an ever-changing climate.
Although his time in the big leagues ended in 2004, Callaway still filtered through baseball overseas and transitioned into coaching at a time where sabermetrics and data-driven decision making were no longer suggestions, but the standard of how ball clubs operated. As a result, the Mets find themselves with a young, upbeat manager willing to use all of the information available to him in order to make the right personnel decisions and maximize the performance of his players.
Callaway by no means discounted the importance or personal interactions and chemistry in his introduction but alluded to being in tune with the modern state of baseball. Callaway also spoke to his ambition and how he had no plans to stop with being a manager, expressing an interest in one day transitioning into a general manager or president of baseball operations role.
Upbeat, Infectious Positivity
New York is not a media market for the faint of heart. Only the strong survive and to do so it requires a unique blend of honesty, directness, and undying sense of positivity. Callaway continually raved about the unparalleled excitement he was experiencing in this euphoric moment. For him, it was the realization of a dream. It takes a very special person to inspire the New York Media and Mets fans alike in your very first press conference, but I cannot understand how well the Mets’ new skipper did so in our very first taste of him.
A Players Manager
I like to believe that in a seasonal grind like baseball, chemistry is king. And that chemistry starts at the top of the food chain with the manager. We know Callaway’s track record. He’s stewarded one of the best rotations in baseball for the last four years. But until today, we didn’t have the chance to fully understand how much he values the interpersonal relationships with his players.
Expressing a desire to contact and get to know every player over the next few weeks, Callaway immediately remarked about a phone conversation he had with David Wright and how well he clicked with the Mets’ captain off the bat. Wright’s health may be a major cause for concern but his leadership and impact over this clubhouse remain heavy and David’s seal of approval early on goes a long way in giving us an idea of what kind of manager Callaway will be.
To go along with repeatedly preaching the importance of putting his players first, Callaway announced his plan to watch every Mets game from 2017, in order to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of his new roster.
All I can say to that is good luck, Mickey. Let’s hope reliving the 2017 season doesn’t scare you off too quickly.