Mets fine Callaway, Vargas for roles in incident

June 24th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- A day after a clubhouse altercation between Mickey Callaway, Jason Vargas and a reporter at Wrigley Field, the Mets fined Callaway and Vargas but did not issue further discipline. Callaway initially declined to apologize for his actions, before calling reporters back into his office two hours later to issue a public apology.

“I can’t control the actions of others or the words of others, but I can always control my reaction to those things,” Callaway said. “I think everybody deserves respect, regardless of job title or role. I hope people can understand that this is a tough game played by passionate competitors, and I hope moving forward that we can all do our jobs honestly, critically.”

Vargas spoke about his role in the altercation for 20 seconds, calling it “unfortunate for all parties” and “an unfortunate distraction,” then walked away without taking questions. The Mets tabbed Jacob deGrom, who was not in the room when the incident took place on Sunday afternoon, to be their spokesman following a team meeting addressing the situation. He, also, tried to turn the focus forward to the Mets’ four-game series against the Phillies, which began Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

More than a dozen extra New York-based and national media members changed their schedules to be at the series opener, as did Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who met with Callaway and Vargas and later announced the discipline. A source said the fines totaled $10,000 apiece for Vargas, who is making $8 million this season, and Callaway, whose salary is not public but who reportedly makes around $850,000. The Mets do not expect Major League Baseball to hand down any additional punishment.

“The Mets organization does not condone the behavior that took place yesterday,” Van Wagenen said. “We are committed to trying to create a healthy work environment for everybody.”

According to those present, the altercation began when Callaway walked by a reporter who said, “See you tomorrow, Mickey,” following Sunday’s 5-3 Mets loss to the Cubs. Callaway verbally accosted the reporter in response, and Vargas made a physical threat before the reporter left the clubhouse.

Van Wagenen called the altercation “disappointing” and “regrettable on many levels,” but said he still has full confidence in Callaway’s management of the Mets. The second-year manager entered Monday’s play with a 37-41 record in 2019; Van Wagenen has given him public backing on three different occasions this season alone.

“My confidence remains the same in Mickey’s ability to do his job,” Van Wagenen said Monday.

Initially when discussing the altercation, Callaway offered little in the way of contrition, chalking his actions up to being “a passionate competitor.” He cracked a joke in response to one question, and he offered defense of his actions by saying: “Billy Martin punched a reporter one time. It’s just part of the game. I’m a passionate guy about baseball and I’m a tough competitor.”

Asked directly if he was sorry, Callaway answered: “I can control my reactions better, absolutely.”

Following that press conference, Callaway said, he “got feedback” on his statements and wished to change them. About an hour before game time, he called a group of reporters back into his office to tell them he did indeed apologize to Newsday’s Tim Healey, the reporter in question. Healey declined comment on the situation.

“I apologized for my reaction,” Callaway said. “I regret it. I regret the distraction it’s caused to the team. And it’s something that we’ll learn from. It’s something I’m not proud of. I’m not proud of the distraction. I’m not proud of what I did to Tim. So for that, I’m definitely sorry.”