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Commentary: Angels must fire coach Mickey Callaway after report details lewd behavior

Los Angeles Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway speaks about his philosophies outside the clubhouse.
Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway speaks at the clubhouse in Tempe, Ariz.
(Greg Beacham / Associated Press)

Josh Hamilton had a drug relapse six years ago. Hamilton had three years left on his contract with the Angels, but owner Arte Moreno pointedly refused to say that Hamilton would play another game for the team.

“I will not say that,” Moreno said. Hamilton never did play another game for the Angels. Moreno exiled him to Texas, paying almost all of the $83 million left on the contract. To Moreno, the contract was secondary to holding Hamilton accountable to the values the outfielder had pledged to the owner he would uphold.

When the Athletic posted an investigation Monday night in which five women alleged Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway had sexually harassed them, the Angels responded with a statement in which the word “values” figured prominently.

“The behavior being reported violates the Angels Organization’s values and policies,” spokeswoman Marie Garvey said. “We take this very seriously and will conduct a full investigation with MLB.”

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The Angels essentially fired Hamilton for violating values. If their words are not hollow, they will fire Callaway for violating values, over and over again.

Major League Baseball players turned down a proposal by the league to delay the beginning spring training and the regular season for a litany of reasons.

In Hamilton’s case, the Angels could have opted for a renewed effort at rehabilitation for addiction, and for compassion over punishment in dealing with a substance abuser. There would have been understanding in some quarters, applause from others.

In Callaway’s case, there is no other option. For Callaway, there can be no excuses. This is not a he-said, she-said story.

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This is what Callaway said, in a statement to the Athletic: “Rather than rush to respond to these general allegations of which I have just been made aware, I look forward to an opportunity to provide more specific responses. Any relationship in which I was engaged has been consensual, and my conduct was in no way intended to be disrespectful to any women involved. I am married and my wife has been made aware of these general allegations.”

But she said, and she said, and she said, and she said, and she said. And, in a pattern of behavior the Athletic detailed through at least five years and three employers, it would be naive to believe Callaway did not harass women.

The Athletic story is detailed and documented, with suggestive text messages and shirtless selfies. Read the whole story, but at the very least the opening paragraph should anger you: “Callaway … aggressively pursued at least five women who work in sports media, sending three of them inappropriate photographs and asking one of them to send nude photos in return. He sent them unsolicited electronic messages and regularly commented on their appearance in a manner that made them uncomfortable. In one instance, he thrust his crotch near the face of a reporter as she interviewed him. In another, he told one of the women that if she got drunk with him he’d share information about the Mets.”

In December, the Mets hired Jared Porter as general manager. In January, they fired him after an ESPN report about his sexual harassment of one reporter.

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Porter owned up right away. Callaway did not, and so Major League Baseball should have placed him on administrative leave Monday night pending its investigation.

MLB, not just the Angels or the Mets, needs to put action behind good intentions. In addition to the five women who reported incidents with Callaway, another seven told the Athletic they had been warned about his behavior.

“It was the worst-kept secret in sports,” said one of the women.

And, yet, this is what Angels manager Joe Maddon said when The Times’ Mike DiGiovanna asked whether he had heard about complaints about any such behavior by Callaway: “Never. Never. No.”

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On Monday night, Mets President Sandy Alderson said he was “unaware” of any such conduct by Callaway, either before or during his tenure as the Mets’ as manager. Alderson previously had said he had not heard any such complaints about Porter before the team hired him.

The Angels improve their starting rotation depth by acquiring veteran Alex Cobb and cash from the Baltimore Orioles for infield prospect Jahmai Jones.

Alderson also said he had not vetted Porter with any women.

Before the Mets hired him, Porter was a finalist for the Angels’ GM job.

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MLB has promised to consider instituting a third-party confidential hotline so that violations can be reported, according to C. Trent Rosecrans, president of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America. That would be a good step, but only a first step, in making women feel comfortable enough in speaking up so that the next generation of Aldersons and Maddons cannot claim to be surprised.

“This is not just a sudden series of one off stories,” former Houston Astros executive Kevin Goldstein tweeted Monday night. “The baseball industry has an INSTITUTIONAL problem with how it sees and treats women.”

Sports reflects society, and perhaps the saddest part of Monday’s news was the reaction of some fans on social media. It is no secret that there is no love lost between Callaway and top free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer. However, those fans who expressed no concern for the affected women but enthusiasm that Callaway’s probable departure could open the door for Bauer to sign with the Angels reminded us that we all have a long way to go.


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