Although he was fired as manager by New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen four days after the 2019 season ended, Mickey Callaway can hold his head high.
Yes, he made a few blunders with respect to in-game strategy, as do all managers, but there is no denying that Mets players gave it they’re all for him. They could easily have mailed it in at the All-Star Game break when the team’s record was a lousy 40-50. Instead, they rallied to finish 10 games over .500 with a final record of 86-76. That was only the third time in ten years that the Mets posted a winning record.
Mickey Callaway was hired by former Mets GM Sandy Alderson, so it’s not surprising that Van Wagenen wanted to have his own man in the Mets dugout. He was reluctant to discuss Callaway’s situation during his final scrum with reporters the last Friday of the season. When I mentioned to him that I thought that the season was a successful one he quickly replied “I appreciate that” but it was clear he didn’t want to hear anything favorable about Callaway.
Not a single sportswriter from a daily newspaper that I read urged Van Wagenen to retain Callaway, nor did any give him credit for the Mets’ final record in spite of a disastrous bullpen that could have qualified for FEMA assistance.
Callaway’s biggest miscue was losing his temper at Newsday beat reporter Tim Healey for misinterpreting his “see you tomorrow” postgame farewell as sarcasm following a tough loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. It’s clear that the Baseball Writers Association of America members had it in for him after that.
To his immense credit, Callaway ignored baseball’s media caste system as he was always accessible to chat with reporters from smaller outlets during batting practice. If I had my hand up to raise a question at a pre or postgame press conference Callaway wouldn’t let the moderator from the Mets media relations department end it without letting me ask it even if the emcee was ready to shut it down after the writers from the dailies had asked all of theirs.
Mickey Callaway’s concern for treating all media members with respect probably didn’t endear himself to some around Citi Field. I think that he knew that but couldn’t care less.
He deserves another chance to manage a big-league team.
Former major league pitcher and longtime Forest Hills resident Bob Tufts, who I profiled in the Queens Chronicle three years ago, sadly lost his decade-long battle with myeloma this past Friday.
Bob was received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton and his MBA from Columbia. He could have been a titan of the industry, but instead he devoted his life to advocating for patient rights and to teaching.
My condolences to his wife, Suzanne, and his daughter, Abigail.
Former Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver, who played in parts of four decades as a catcher, was honored by WFUV, Fordham University’s highly respected FM station last week
McCarver is famous for having served as the “personal” catcher for a pair of Hall of Fame pitchers, Bob Gibson and Steve “Lefty” Carlton. I asked him his thoughts about the Noah Syndergaard’s request to not have Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera catch him instead of Wilson Ramos. “I see nothing wrong with that, but it had better work from the beginning, or it will cause dissension. A starting catcher needs a day off anyway. It’s also better to institute that at the beginning of a season” McCarver replied.
I asked McCarver if given both his 22-year catching career and stellar communications skills if he ever considered being a manager. “I would have gone to Triple-A to manage in a heartbeat. Phillies president Bill Giles offered me a job in the broadcast booth, and I took it.”
McCarver has been broadcasting around 30 St. Louis Cardinals games the past few years, and he is thinking about retirement. “The airline travel is getting a lot harder for me,” he said candidly. If he does call it a career he will go down as the best baseball analyst ever in my opinion.
The following day another sports legend, tennis great Stan Smith, was honored by the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, whose missions are to educate people about health issues in non-traditional places such as hair salons and to provide training for careers in the medical sciences for underprivileged young people.
Stan Smith was one of the first athletes to have his own line of sneakers. Adidas signed him to an endorsement deal in 1972, which was around the same time that Puma did the same with New York Knicks superstar guard Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Neither sneaker brand was well-known at the time, and each athlete put them on the retail map, respectively.
Serena Williams, who asked me, “What’s Advertising Week?” when I asked her about her scheduled appearance there during the US Open. I was stunned by her reply since her appearance the annual week-long confab on all things related to marketing and pop culture (and whose CEO is Bayside native Matthew Scheckner) was heavily promoted.
Williams must have eventually been informed about it by her management team because she did show up. She repeated terms as “brands” and “authenticity” during her 30-minute appearance on the stage of the Loew’s Lincoln Square Theater as often as she uses her backhand during a Grand Slam tennis match as she discussed her fashion line and other ventures.
Headlocked Comics, whose business of creating illustrated wrestling-themed strips nine years ago, had ring legends Kevin Nash and Bob “Sgt. Slaughter” Remus signing autographs at its booth at the recent New York Comic-Con.
I asked Remus about why the 1980s were such a golden age for professional wrestling. “We were allowed to ad-lib quite a bit in both the ring and during on-air interviews to promote upcoming matches. It really let us develop our characters,” he replied.
Remus was in real life a former US Marine who trained at the USMC base at Paris Island, South Carolina. His Sgt. Slaughter character was a comedic exaggeration of the drill instructors he knew from his basic training days.
Many of the stars of the new wrestling promotion, All Elite Wrestling, which airs Wednesdays from 8 to 10 PM on cable’s TNT, met with media at NY Comic-Con.
AEW’s biggest headliner, Chris Jericho, says that he still texts Vince McMahon and others at the WWE. “I don’t have a feud with them. This was just too good an opportunity to pass up.” Jericho acknowledged that it currently might be difficult for AEW to schedule a card at Madison Square Garden but thinks that will change.
“We drew 14,000 people at Washington’s Capital One Arena as well as drawing over a million viewers on TNT for our debut. I think that arena bookers will want us,” Jericho replied with his trademark confidence.
The first awards of the 2019 baseball season have been conferred as Baseball Digest has named Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout as MLB Player of the Year, the Houston Astros’ Justin Verlander as MLB Pitcher of the Year, and the San Diego Padres Kirby Yates as MLB Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Third-string Jets quarterback Lucas Falk may not be much of an NFL signal-caller but he is certainly a tough guy as he got sacked ten times by the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday’s 31-6 loss at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia. He didn’t seem to be the worse for wear based on his postgame press conference and appeared ready to take another beating this coming Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
The annual New York City Wine & Food Festival, which brings together celebrity chefs and notables from all walks of life to celebrate the Big Apple’s exalted status with respect to anything epicurean, takes place Thursday through Sunday. Hollis native and former Run-DMC frontman Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons is among those hosting one of the many food tastings taking place all over the city as part of the festival. For more information log onto nycwff.org
Lawyer dramas have been a television staple since the earliest days of the medium, so it’s hard to get excited by any newcomers to the genre.
This fall, there are two new entrants to the genre, NBC’s “Bluff City Law” and CBS’s “All Rise” and both air on Monday evenings.
Jimmy Smits, who many remember from the 1980s hit show “LA Law,” has relocated his attorney skills to Memphis in “Bluff City Law.” The hour-long show is easy enough to watch, but it plays too much like a contrived soap opera for my liking.
A better bet is “All Rise,” starring Simone Missick as Los Angeles County Superior Court justice Lola Carmichael. What makes this show different is that unlike most legal shows it is the behind the scenes stuff in a courthouse that gets the attention while the trials seem to be an afterthought. One of the show’s advisers is former Los Angeles County DA Gil Garcetti, and that may account for the gritty realism that one rarely sees in legal eagle TV programs.