March 3, 2021

Cleveland Team Lied About Its Knowledge Of Callaway's Extensive History Of Sexual Harassment (aka "The Mickey Treatment"); Some Mets Employees Called Him "Dick Pic Mick"

One month ago, when The Athletic published the sexual harassment allegations of five women against former pitching coach/manager Mickey Callaway, a pattern of harassment that spanned multiple cities while Callaway worked for three teams, Cleveland's team president Chris Antonetti stated that reading the report "was the first time I became aware of the alleged behaviors".

The most recent reporting by Brittany Ghiroli and Katie Strang show beyond any question that Antonetti was lying.

Since the publication of The Athletic's first article, more women have come forward to say that Callaway made them uncomfortable by sending them inappropriate messages and/or photos, making unwanted advances and more while they worked for the Indians. Additionally, in 2017, an angry husband repeatedly called the team's fan services department to complain that Callaway had sent "pornographic material" to his wife. Those calls were brought to the attention of Antonetti, manager Terry Francona and general manager Mike Chernoff; the Indians spoke with Callaway about the matter. A Cleveland attorney spoke with the wife and said – in a phone call that was recorded – that Callaway had expressed remorse to him. The attorney added that "the Indians are frickin' pissed as hell" at Callaway and offered to have Francona call the husband. Additionally, an MLB security official contacted the husband and told him: "Mickey wants this all to go away," and the husband later emailed MLB directly about Callaway.

Over the past month, The Athletic has interviewed 22 people who interacted with Callaway during his years in the Indians organization, including 12 current and former employees. They say that Callaway's sexual indiscretions permeated the workplace to such an extent that it would have been difficult for top officials to not be aware of his behavior, and they push back against any assertion that Callaway's actions, when made public by The Athletic last month, caught team executives or MLB by surprise.

"I laughed out loud when I saw the quote [in The Athletic's original report] that said it was the worst-kept secret in baseball, because it was," said one Indians employee. "It was the worst-kept secret in the organization." . . .

[In Cleveland, Callaway] was viewed not only as a forward-thinking coach with interest in the expanding information and metrics becoming available, but also as someone with the distinct ability to synthesize and distill information for those who were less analytically inclined. . . .

As Callaway's track record for success in grooming and developing pitchers grew, however, so did his reputation for aggressively pursuing women.

One former pitcher under Callaway said that Callaway's conduct was widely known as early as 2010, when he was working in the minor leagues; There, he made inappropriate, sexualized comments about women and pursued them relentlessly. He'd often ask fellow players "where's the beef?" and indicate he was on the prowl for attractive women, the player said. ("Beef" is a term used within some MLB clubhouses to refer to women, particularly those who are not spouses or partners of players.)

The player said there were even times when he was warming up before a game and Callaway would be sidling up to women in the stands near the dugout and flirting with them instead of helping him.

"It gets kind of awkward when he's checking out players' girlfriends," the player added.

In 2011, when Callaway was working as a pitching coach for the Indians' affiliate in Kinston, North Carolina, he tried to rekindle a relationship with a woman who dated him during his playing days. She broke it off when she discovered he was days away from getting married. . . .

"He very much is of the mindset that women have one purpose," she said.

Callaway's promotion to the big club as a major-league pitching coach raised his profile. It also meant he was . . . in the vicinity of women who worked in the team's offices and . . . more junior-level staffers . . . He began reaching out to some via messages to their LinkedIn accounts. Others just took note of the long stares, the leering.

"It didn't matter what you looked like, what size, whether you were White or Black, Asian or Hispanic, he'd be creepy towards you," said one woman.

It wasn't long before women in the office talked about his behavior; five current or former employees say they were warned about Callaway by others, the message unambiguous: Stay away from him.

In 2015, the wives of multiple Indians' players began discussing what they perceived to be an extramarital relationship that Callaway was in with a woman who was around the team. Some wives shared those concerns with their husbands, and those concerns were conveyed to at least one department head and another staffer, though no formal complaint was filed with human resources or any other department, a source said.

"You definitely knew he had a lot of other women on the side," said the wife of an Indians player that year. "He was just someone you wanted to stay away from." . . .

In late 2016 or early 2017, he sent an unsolicited full-frontal nude picture of himself in a locker room to the friend of another woman he was involved with sexually, according to someone who saw the photo and asked about it. The friend worked in the Indians organization at the time. . . .

Perhaps the Indians were unaware that Callaway was harassing female employees, even sometimes on the field before games, and messaging them via social media apps, causing women to warn each other about his conduct and at least one former staffer to coin the phrase "the Mickey treatment." Perhaps the team was unaware he was taking lewd photos in the locker room and sharing them with women. Perhaps the complaints from players' wives never reached the executive suite.

But Antonetti's declaration that "there had never been any complaints against Mickey in his time with us, either to me or to our human resources department or other leaders," prompted multiple people who interacted with Callaway during his time in the Indians organization to contact The Athletic and accuse Antonetti of being evasive.

"(Those) comments hit me the wrong way," said one former Indians employee. "I know that's the way Chris has to do it and run things, but the amount of people in that organization who know about all that stuff, I don't know how he can then face his staff." . . .

On the morning of Aug. 8, 2018, more than halfway through Callaway's first season as [Mets] manager, a number of New York Mets interns tasked with reviewing the emails that filter in through the team's community outreach account flagged one from 9:48 p.m. from the night before.

The email, which The Athletic reviewed, was from the Arizona husband, who said he was reaching out to the Mets to notify them that Callaway had sent his wife "unsolicited pornographic material," and that he had previously attempted to notify MLB of Callaway's behavior. [This incident is detailed at length in the article.]

"I would like to think that if the Mets were aware of this situation, they would not want this type of person as their employee representing their organization," the person wrote in the email, which had also been sent to MLB's customer service on Aug. 6.

After being told of the content of the email by interns within the department, a manager within the community outreach department forwarded the email to David Cohen, the team's general counsel [who told] the manager to keep the contents of the email private. . . .

According to one former Mets employee, Callaway earned a nickname among several people within the organization: "Dick Pic Mick." . . .

In the wake of the revelations about Callaway's behavior under their watch, Indians and Mets officials have attempted to look forward. . . . MLB has announced it is updating its harassment and discrimination policies.

Some who lived through Callaway's time in Cleveland and were subjected to his aggressive advances questioned how the men who once supervised Callaway can be trusted to fix the culture that allowed him to operate so brazenly.

Nick Francona has criticized his father for being in the loop concerning Callaway's behaviour and doing nothing about it. Nick stated his father had lied to him, was "clearly in the wrong", doesn't seem to "understand what is acceptable behavior and what isn't" and is (along with other front office men in Cleveland) "more concerned with covering up wrongdoings" than dealing with them honestly. In addition, "the Commissioner's office is part of the problem, not the solution."

On Wednesday, Terry Francona claimed the team did not cover-up any harassment:

Nobody's ever deliberately covered up for anybody, I can tell you that. . . . I have never worked in a place where I have more respect for people than here. And I've been very fortunate to work for some wonderful people. I believe that in my heart. I don't think today is the day to go into details, things like that. I do hope there is a day, because I think it would be good, and I think it's necessary.

That's a bold claim, considering all that has come out so far. I cannot imagine it won't blow up in Tito's face at some point. But even dismissing the idea of a cover-up, the Cleveland front office heard numerous reports of Callaway's offensive behavior and did absolutely nothing to stop it.

In Callaway's case, both Cleveland and the Mets facilitated a harmful workplace environment where women were regularly harassed and feared retaliation if they reported illegal behaviour. The teams protected Callway, allowing him to continue harassing women for years, and did not care about the safety of their female employees. These charges could be leveled at many other organizations, I'm sure.

Regarding his son's statements, Francona said: "As you can imagine, that's a very difficult thing to see. So to deal with it publicly is hurtful."

Ray Ratto, Defector, March 2, 2021:

Cleveland's baseball team is the new worst franchise in North American professional sports, an honor that can be explained by two exhaustive and exhausting pieces by The Athletic's Katie Strang, who recently dug a pickaxe into the Arizona Coyotes, and MLB reporter Brittany Ghiroli about the many ways in which both the team and Major League Baseball ignored, dismissed, and tacitly accepted former pitching coach Mickey Callaway's prodigiously revolting proclivities with women dating back at least to 2010. . . .

He is now suspended pending an investigation by Major League Baseball that, like most such things, doubtless will be exactly as thorough as it needs to be to fit the needs of the investigators. . . .

But Cleveland clearly knew or should have known about how uneasy and unsafe their prized employee made every woman in sight. They did nothing, for years . . . and given the way the underground rumor railroad works in Major League Baseball, the Mets and Angels have some further explaining to do and amends to make as well. . . .

They had a responsibility to deal with Callaway, or at the very least not to plead ignorance when other teams inquired about him. . . . And the Clevelands will stay in this place until the news says something else is worse, or weirder, or just different. The well-trod process of waiting until things blow over helps dysfunctional organizations like this one prevent valuable and necessary change from happening, and there only so many Strangs and Ghirolis to go around.

Save some massive sudden onset of shame in America's front offices, maybe that's the surefire solution to bad behavior . . . fearless, thorough investigative journalism . . . [T]here are plenty of people who are out there doing it for less reward than is their due . . . It only sort of works, and only after the egregious behavior has already been committed and permitted, but it sure comes closer than anything else the people in charge have tried on their own, which is almost nothing.

If you're interested, Strang's report on the Coyotes is here: "Dysfunction In The Desert". Regarding the Coyotes' "pissbaby statement" in response, which will "accomplish the opposite of its desired effect":
In her article, Strang laid out many examples of how the Coyotes have gone wrong, including unpaid bills, toxic office politics, and the process behind the decision to draft a prospect who had been convicted of bullying a developmentally disabled, black classmate. The team's statement, which doesn't dispute any actual facts in the story, claims that the sources used are all "disgruntled ex-employees who have proven to be untrustworthy and lacking in candor." Again, The Athletic spoke with "more than 50 people, including current and former employees that span multiple departments as well as people who have business relationships with the club." If all of those sources are disgruntled and untrustworthy, what does that say about the Coyotes' hiring process and treatment of their workers?

The Coyotes' statement mainly defends the honor of team owner Alex Meruelo, claiming he is no deadbeat, but that he is the target of a "harassment campaign" by Strang and her publication. Somehow the team fails to mention that Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is also featured in the article, threatening to blackball Strang while she was reporting:
In November, agitated that organizational information had been obtained by The Athletic, Armstrong contacted this reporter, offering a theory that his daily schedule and other files had been stolen from his computer. He warned that the person who he surmised was responsible would be going to jail. After delivering a lecture on journalism ethics, Armstrong asked this reporter what she thought would happen if he were to tell general managers around the league how she did her job.

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