Ineligible Man Downfield: Mickey Callaway’s time in Cleveland needs to be further examined

Callaway's alleged behavior needs to be addressed by the baseball team that once employed him.

What did Cleveland know about this?

On Monday, The Athletic dropped a bombshell report detailing alleged lewd behavior by current Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The behavior as detailed — called “the worst kept secret in baseball” by one of the women — is intolerable and a real abuse of power and privilege. 

Callaway spent several years with the Cleveland baseball organization, joining it in 2010 as a minor league pitching coach. He ultimately worked his way up to the then-Indians in 2013 as a pitching coach, a role he held until 2017. Francona has heavily praised Callaway dating back to the team’s 2016 World Series run and after when Callaway was hired by the Mets.

Cleveland, per The Athletic, issued a statement saying “We were made aware for the first time tonight of the allegations in The Athletic regarding Mickey Callaway’s behavior towards women. We are currently reviewing the matter internally and in consultation with Major League Baseball to determine appropriate next steps. Our organization unequivocally does not condone this type of behavior. We seek to create an inclusive work environment where everyone, regardless of gender, can feel safe and comfortable to do their jobs.” Notably, The Athletic’s report details harassment by Callaway in 2016 when he was still working with the team. 

Moving forward, Callaway doesn’t deserve a place in baseball — this kind of behavior shouldn’t be acceptable in society writ large, much less in a male-dominanted sports. His current team, the Angels, has suspended him. But there are also still several questions for every team that employed Callaway — not to mention the players he coached — to answer. Cleveland is not excluded from this. 

Start at the top. Did ownership know? Did Chris Antonetti and the front office know? What about Francona? Did they have any inkling that this is how Callaway behaved? If it was even a top-10 worst kept secret in baseball, then they probably had some idea or had heard some rumors. To seemingly do nothing is a moral failing.

The same question applies to the players. If they had any idea this is how Callaway behaved — even just a hunch — it is on them to have actually done something. Players make sports and teams more than anyone and their power is greater than any other group in an organization. (That’s particularly true of star players, many of whom Callaway coached as Cleveland’s rotation emerged in and around 2016. Corey Kluber, mind you, won a Cy Young under Callaway. Bauer, for whatever it’s worth, feuded with Callaway.) If they had an idea that this was happening, and did nothing, then that’s a moral failing as well. 

Is this messy — and perhaps impossible — to fully unpack? Yes. It is highly unlikely the public writ large will ever really know who knew what, who was complicit and who was truly unaware of what Callaway did. The team may not even want to publicly admit how much it actually knew — transparency is not normal from teams in his position.

But frankly, it seems extremely unlikely that no one in the organization had any inclination that this was going on. The work to find out how deep the rot went — and where it might still be — is necessary. Now, the team owes its fans, the league and itself to actually investigate this and determine as best it can who was actually complicit. Those findings should be made public too. And anyone who was aware — be it Antonetti or Francona or any player still here who overlapped with Callaway — should be shown the door.

There can be no half measures in reckoning with something that should have never been allowed to happen in the first place. — Chris Manning


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Who we are

Chris Manning: Site Manager at Fear the Sword, co-host of the Locked on Cavs podcast, words at places like Cleveland Magazine and Forbes. On Twitter @cwmwrites

Jordan Zirm: Social editor at @TheCheckdown. Formerly of ESPN Cleveland. Words at B/R, SB Nation and UPROXX. Host of The Rebuild podcast. On Twitter @clevezirm

Alex Hooper: Contributor at Fantasy Sports Insight. Former Cleveland Baseball Club beat writer for 92.3 the Fan (WKRK), and contributor at Sports Illustrated, Let’s Go Tribe, and the News-Herald. On Twitter @lexhooper.

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