Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? Mickey Callaway.
The Mets have made it official. On Monday at a 4:00 PM press conference at Citi Field, they’ll tab the Indians pitching coach as the man who will sign the lineup card on March 29, receives the 57th annual good luck floral arrangement set in orange-and-blue, and most importantly, be entrusted with the direction of this franchise, which is – somewhat unbelievably – once again at another defining moment.
We know what Callaway brings, a pupil of Terry Francona, one of the game’s great managers. We know his expertise: pitching, and getting the best of out not only names like Kluber, Carrasco, and Miller, but Bauer, Clevinger, and Otero. And we know what the Mets need: yet another change in culture that ensures another upswing of fortune is not merely a two-season blip on the radar.
But what we don’t know is what type of manager Callaway will be. Not for sure, at least. Joel Sherman had great anecdotes of how Don Zimmer, a lifelong baseball man who had the respect of practically everyone he ever met, almost upended the Yankees dynasty when he got a temporary seat in the big chair. The point is clear: no matter how much you impress in an interview, or how accomplished your résumé is, there is absolutely no telling what will happen when you’re entrusted with the fate of an organization, especially one as tenuous as the Mets.
There are positive signs, of course, some of which others in the blogosphere have mentioned. The fact that the Mets let themselves be won over by someone in the process was a huge reversal of how things are usually done in Queens. Sandy Alderson opted for someone with no managerial experience, something he is said to vastly prefer in a skipper, is another. It all speaks as a testament to Callaway’s candidacy and bodes well for a team searching for The Next Big Thing™ for almost three decades.
But managing in this town, for this team, brings challenges on a daily basis that absolutely no one can anticipate. Those who have mastered it – like Gil Hodges and Davey Johnson – are canonized for eternity. Those who fail, even the accomplished ones –like World Series champion Dallas Green, or the well-lit Art Howe coming off a 103-win season in Oakland – become cannon fodder. Only time will tell which category Callaway will fall into will be determined, but at least on this day, for this embattled organization, it certainly feels like a win.