PHILADELPHIA – Jason Vargas believes he’s getting an unfair shake.
He claims the version of events that led to him threatening to assault a reporter Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field are wrong.
The lefty believes the real truth has been withheld.
“It was an unfortunate confrontation. I don’t think all the information is really out there. I don't think this is the time to get into that, but I think that anybody that knows me or anybody that has played with me through the duration of my career, there's never been a situation like that,” Vargas said after allowing two runs in 6.1 innings in the Mets’ 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Phillies on Wednesday night. “To think that it just happened out of the blue would be foolish, For the info to be out there like that and for one side to be told, that’s just not it.”
Vargas had the chance to explain his side of the story Wednesday, but kept it to himself. The Mets have already fined Vargas $10,000 for his actions.
“It's over. Our organization made a statement,” Vargas said. “We put an end to it. but I think it’s pretty obvious that all the info wasn’t out there.”
Entering Wednesday, Vargas had only spoken once Sunday’s incident, issuing a 20-second statement Monday that showed a complete lack of contrition.
Those actions by Vargas, and manager Mickey Callaway, who also berated the reporter following a loss to the Cubs, have kept the Mets (37-44) in the national headlines. They also have yet to win a game since that incident.
It all started with a Newsday reporter telling Callaway after a 5-3 loss, “see you tomorrow, Mickey,” and then being cursed out by the manager, who did not take it as the innocent greeting the reporter claimed he was making.
Callaway’s tirade gave way to Vargas later threatening the reporter, and having to be held back by teammates after charging the reporter.
During Wednesday’s game, Mets home TV announcer, Gary Cohen of SNY, offered the most pointed criticism of Vargas by anyone affiliated with the organization.
“It doesn’t sit well at the end of the day that somebody can physically threaten a person in his place of work and not have to feel some consequence from that action,” Cohen said during the first inning. “As somebody who cares deeply about this organization and has for a long time, my fear is it leaves a strain and even more so that it gives entrée for the next player who feels in the heat of the moment he needs to vent like that to do to the same thing.”
Former Met Keith Hernandez echoed those sentiments.
“The (young players) are going to be here as a nucleus going forward,” Hernandez said. “I would hate to see any animosity between the media and these young players going forward. I’m hoping that the well hasn’t been poisoned.”
Sunday’s altercation likely won’t be discussed on a daily basis all that much longer, but it will be remembered as one of the defining moments of what is shaping up to be another lost season. The Mets are trending in the wrong direction.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen declared in the offseason that the Mets were the team to beat in the NL East, and told the division foes to “come get us.”
At the midpoint of the season, the Mets have been gotten. They are a fourth-place team that is 11 games back in the NL East and on pace to win 74 games.
Wednesday’s loss served as a recap of the first half with the bullpen wasting a lead for the 19th time. The Mets should have escaped the seventh inning with a 4-2 lead after Scott Kingery struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but the ball bounced away from catcher Tomas Nido, allowing Kingery to reach base.
Jean Segura then dumped a two-run single into center to tie the game.
Three innings later, ex-Met Jay Bruce —traded to Seattle in the offseason deal that netted the Mets closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano — hit a walk-off double to center field off rookie reliever Stephen Nogosek.
That Bruce hit the walk-off double served as a cruel reminder of just how poorly the deal for Cano and Diaz has worked out.
The Mets have tried to say they’re only one bounce away, but it becomes more and more clear each night that is who the Mets are.
“It’s another one where we had a lead with not many outs to go, and we just can’t hold it,” Callaway said. “If we could have done that consistently all season, we could have been there with everybody at the top. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re competing. It just stings every night.”