Today wasn’t just a milestone day for new Mets manager Mickey Callaway simply because it was his first game, it was in that he firmly established who is in charge.
From the moment he was introduced, Callaway stressed accountability and responsibility.
It wasn’t always that way under Terry Collins, who, in all fairness, didn’t get support from GM Sandy Alderson. Obviously, Alderson wouldn’t undercut Callaway over Dominic Smith, but it was encouraging to see the rookie manager pull the prospect from the starting lineup after he showed up late to a team meeting.
Callaway doesn’t have many rules, but being on time is one of them. It’s not all that hard to show up on time, and it is head scratching for someone trying to make the roster being late for the first game of the year.
Players supposed to show up for an 8:45 a.m., meeting and Smith was late. Maybe he overslept, maybe he got stuck in traffic, maybe he didn’t set his alarm properly. Whatever the reason, it didn’t fly with Callaway, nor should it.
Smith is a professional, and while he might have a lot to learn about playing the game, he should already know how to set an alarm clock.
Perhaps it would have been more impressive if it was Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard – all who tested the limits under Collins – but Callaway wouldn’t wilt in his first disciplinary test.
Good for him.
To his credit, Smith made no excuses, was contrite and admitted he was wrong.
“I shouldn’t be cutting it close like that,’’ Smith told reporters. “I’m a professional. This is my job. This is my career. It’s my livelihood. I felt like I definitely let them down today.
“He asked me what I thought the decision should be and I agreed with him. That’s the only way it should be. They shouldn’t give me a pass or whatever. They shouldn’t give anybody a pass. That’s what he’s been preaching since Day 1 – accountability. You got to be accountable for yourself, your actions.’’
Yes, it was only a Triple-A prospect. It wasn’t Cespedes, who is erratic in his hustle and blew off treatment of a quad injury to play golf; it wasn’t Harvey, who blew off a game last year nursing a hangover; and it wasn’t Syndergaard, who refused to take an MRI and subsequently tore a lat muscle last April which basically cost the Mets their season.
Some might ask why this is a big deal, that what difference does a few minutes make.
It’s because being late shows a lack of discipline. It shows a lack of respect for the rules and your teammates. It’s because little things can grow into bad habits that can cost a team games if left unchecked.
Basically, it’s learning how to win, something the Mets don’t know how to do.