PHILADELPHIA – It took Mickey Callaway two tries to say I’m sorry.
In his first media session Monday in the aftermath of Callaway cursing out a reporter at Wrigley Field on Sunday, Callaway whiffed on chances to show remorse.
Even when asked point blank if he was sorry for his barrage of expletives, Callaway didn’t take the opening.
“I can control my reactions better, absolutely,” Callaway said.
Roughly two hours later, Callaway and New York Mets officials summoned reporters to his office at Citizens Bank Park for his second attempt at apologizing.
The previously six minutes he had were not enough. Callaway needed a second chance. And, this time, he managed to admit he messed up.
“I understand that I got some feedback -- I wanted you guys to know in my meeting with [Newsday reporter] Tim [Healey], I apologized for my reaction,” Callaway said before the Mets began an important four-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies. “I regret it. I regret the distraction it has caused to the team, and, like I said earlier, it’s something we’ll learn from. Something I’m not proud of, I’m not proud of the distraction, I’m not proud of what I did to Tim. For that I’m definitely sorry.”
At least Callaway appeared contrite, though.
Mets starter Jason Vargas, who threatened to assault the same reporter, saying ‘I’ll knock you the f--- out, bro,” didn’t even try to appear to be remorseful.
If you thought Mickey wasn't contrite, here's Vargas pic.twitter.com/5KAJAy4hX4
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) June 24, 2019
Both Callaway and Vargas were fined $10,000 by the Mets, according to a source.
“I think everybody is aware of the situation that happened yesterday, I think it’s unfortunate for all parties. An unfortunate distraction,” Vargas said in a 20-second statement. “Tonight, we got the Phillies to play. The team addressed the situation, the organization has a made a statement, and that’s really all there is to it.”
Vargas’ reaction and Callaway needing two chances to apologize made for a bizarre day for a team that has struggled throughout the years at cutting a story off before it turns into a national story, allowing the issue to fester for several days.
Following Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Cubs, Callaway did not take well to Newsday reporter Tim Healey telling him, “see you tomorrow, Mickey.”
Callaway then unleashed plenty of expletives on Healey, berating him in front of other media members, his players, and a team public relations staffer.
“Get the f----- out of here,” Callaway said. “We don’t need that bulls--- here.”
Vargas later joined in on the action, engaging in a stare down with Healey before threatening to assault him. Vargas later rushed toward him before having to be restrained by pitcher Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Carlos Gómez.
The incident completely overshadowed the back-breaking loss to the Cubs, and raised questions surrounding Callaway and his leadership style.
Monday’s first interview did not make Callaway look any better since he did not own his actions. The second presser, assembled rather quickly about an hour before the game, made it clear the organization realized the backlash to the first.
Callaway did not reveal his side of the story, but opened his remarks by saying that he can’t control the actions of others. He can only control his own.
“It was a misunderstanding obviously for things like that to happen, it’s always a misunderstanding,” Callaway said. “I’m sure there was no [bad] intent by either. It was something that happened, and we have to move forward.”
The second-year manager described his actions as ones that were the result of his competitive fire, and even reference Billy Martin’s behavior.
Callaway did speak to Healey on Monday afternoon, and insisted that everything was fine between the two of them.
“Billy Martin punched a reporter one time. It’s part of this game. It’s something, hey, I’m a passionate guy about baseball and I’m a tough competitor,” Callaway said Monday. “Sometimes you’ll see it with the umpires, sometimes you’ll see it with the players, the thing is you guys don’t need to see directed towards you. You guys have a job to do, I’ve understood that, I’ve always understood that.”
"Billy Martin punched a reporter one time...I'm a passionate guy about baseball, I'm a tough competitor" - Mickey Callaway pic.twitter.com/GOz6UFml7H
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 24, 2019
Callaway later downplayed Vargas’ emotional reaction, attributing Vargas threatening a reporter to him being a passionate competitor.
The Mets held a team meeting Monday, and Jacob deGrom spoke for the players, saying that “tensions run high” and the team understands reporters have jobs to do. They hope they can put it behind them and focus on their games.
"We all have to respect one another at all times,” Callaway said about Vargas’ reaction.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen offered the sincerest remarks, saying the organization does not condone the actions.
He called it “disappointing” and “regrettable on many levels.” He believes his manager knows that type of reaction can’t happen again.
That incident has not affected his confidence in Callaway, the manager he gave a vote of confidence to last month “for the foreseeable future.”
“My confidence remains the same in Mickey’s ability to do his job,” Van Wagenen said before Callaway spoke. “My confidence remains the same that Mickey is capable of doing this job and we will support him in doing so.”
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