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Opinion: MLB yet to hold Mickey Callaway accountable as harassment allegations pile up

  • March 02, 2021

It has been a month since five women described how Mickey Callaway has a pattern of allegedly sexually harassing media members and employees of the team for which he was a very public representative, and he still has a major-league team.

Anyone who is surprised by this doesn’t know Major League Baseball. Or most sports, for that matter. Anyone who expects anything substantive to be done about Callaway and the growing embarrassment he is causing MLB, the Cleveland baseball team, the New York Mets and his current employer, the Los Angeles Angels, is going to wind up disappointed.

In fact, the fractured dynamics of the Francona family will probably get more attention than Nick Francona’s criticism of father Terry Francona and other Cleveland officials following The Athletic’s latest story on Callaway. The Athletic reported in pain-staking detail Tuesday how high up in the Cleveland organization knowledge of Callaway’s alleged predatory behavior went, and that MLB and the Mets were likely aware of it, too.

Baseball has a history of not doing anything about its transgressions until it is forced to. And given the lack of care many men in sports have shown for the minefields women in the business have to tread every day just to do their jobs, they are not likely to recognize the damage that is being done just because they have been given the 8 millionth example of it.

That doesn’t make any of this OK, of course.

Mickey Callaway, now pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels, has been suspended by the team since Feb. 2

It is disgusting that someone who allegedly harassed women with his unwelcome comments and unsolicited photos, someone who reportedly made women feel unsafe and uncomfortable in their jobs, felt entitled to do so. It is shameful that neither Callaway nor the men who didn’t find his alleged behavior disqualifying are being held accountable.

And it is exhausting to have to explain all of this to the men who don’t understand what the big deal is or think this is all being blown out of proportion. Again.

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“Right now it’s just not the right time to respond to some of the questions I’m sure you have,” the elder Francona said Tuesday. “I do hope at some point we are able to, because I think we need to. Just know that we take this very very serious. And I apologize.”

When, pray tell, is the right time to talk about Callaway’s alleged misdeeds and the toxic culture that enables them? Opening day? When the Angels pitching staff, which should be among baseball’s best given how brilliant Francona and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson swore Callaway was, implodes once again? On the third Tuesday of June, so long as there’s a full moon and Jupiter and Saturn are shining together?

If baseball – and I mean the sport itself, not just the folks in the offices at 1271 Avenue of the Americas – truly saw Callaway and other proud perpetrators of misogyny as a problem, they’d actually take steps to prevent it. To say unequivocally that marginalizing and demeaning women is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.

But they don’t.

When the Angels suspended Callaway on Feb. 2, they promised a “full investigation.” Apparently it takes more than a month to find those texts and photos Callaway reportedly sent, some possibly on team-issued phones, and to interview the relatively small number of women who cover baseball regularly. Or maybe the Angels and MLB are dragging their feet in hopes this will eventually go away.   

Earlier this week, Alderson, who has the dubious distinction of hiring both Callaway and Jared Porter, who was fired as general manager after being accused of stalking a female reporter when he was with the Chicago Cubs, said the Mets were “trying to be more intentional” about unearthing frat boy behavior in their prospective hires. Which means what, exactly? I’m trying to be more intentional about going to bed at a reasonable hour, but bingeing Ted Lasso again keeps getting in the way of that.

If you truly want to do something, you commit to doing it. When you don’t, you fall back on “trying to be more intentional.”

Callaway and the gross behavior he is accused of are not unique. Sadly, neither is the indifference and inaction that follows it.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour

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