That’s all it took for the question to be posed yet again — Why does it always have to be this way for the Mets? — without anything resembling a pat or ironic answer regarding the player-related shenanigans of a franchise which apparently has needless drama embedded into its DNA.
Unlike the nonsense that took place from Sunday through Tuesday, there’s nothing harmlessly entertaining about the familiar news that broke Wednesday afternoon, when acting general manager — has an adjective ever seemed so appropriate? — Zack Scott was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of drunken driving in White Plains, N.Y.
Scott, who attended a fundraiser at owner Steve Cohen’s house in Connecticut Monday night, was arrested at 4:17 AM after cops found him asleep in his car. He pled not guilty Thursday morning to the DWI charge and three additional charges and is slated to appear in court next on Oct. 7. The Mets placed him on administrative leave Thursday afternoon.
The Scott arrest is the latest embarrassing incident for an organization that was expected to shed its bumbling image once Cohen bought the Mets from the Wilpons last fall.
No longer would the Mets employ executives who cast the organization in a bad light with their poor behavior. No longer would the Mets have to worry about a general manager taking a leave of absence after sexual harassment allegations were lodged by a fellow employee, nor another general manager accusing a reporter, on live television, that he’s angling for a job in his front office. Never again would an assistant general manager challenge an entire minor league affiliate to a fight. (The latter two incidents happened in the same week)
The Mets wouldn’t be managed again by someone who cursed out reporters and “earned” a profane nickname resulting from his well-known history of sending inappropriate pictures to females. The clubhouse manager wouldn’t ruin his career by getting busted for stealing team memorabilia. The owner’s offspring wouldn’t garner a well-earned reputation as a bully even before the club settled out of court with a fired pregnant employee who sued the club and said offspring for sexual discrimination.
Except…the last nine months have been an Olympic-caliber exercise in seamless baton passing. Scott is the second person to fill the role of general manager because the executive hired on a seemingly permanent basis, Jared Porter, lasted just 37 days before being fired after ESPN.com reported he sent lewd text messages to a female reporter while working for the Cubs in 2016.
In February, the Mets came remarkably close to signing Trevor Bauer, who may or may not have agreed to terms with the club for a few minutes before deciding to go to the Dodgers. Two months earlier, Alderson said he thought “…Bauer would be a great personality in New York” and noted “(w)e’re in the entertainment business.” As it turns out, Bauer’s ugly behavior on Twitter did in fact turn out to be a harbinger of things to come.
The Athletic, which ran a lengthy piece on former manager Mickey Callaway’s behavior in February, reported later in the month that the Mets didn’t fire Ryan Ellis, a hitting instructor who was accused of inappropriate behavior by three women within the organization, until Jan. 22 — three days after Porter’s dismissal.
In April, The Athletic ran a 4,000-word piece largely about what one former Mets employee called “…this toxic workplace” under the Wilpons, but with details on how one Wilpon-era staffer David Newman was rehired by 2011 through 2018 and was named team president by Alderson last November despite multiple women alerting Alderson of Newman’s history of inappropriate behavior.
Alderson, lauded as the no-nonsense adult in the room throughout a tenure in which he had to navigate the Wilpons’ financial issues as well as the decidedly hands-on nature of Jeff Wilpon, asked in the latter Athletic piece “(i)s there ever a statute of limitation on coverage of some of this stuff?”
The Mets were silent Wednesday except for a 44-word statement issued via Twitter. It’s understandable if they’re treading carefully given the thorny nature of Scott’s continued employment, but whenever Alderson speaks about Scott’s arrest, one hopes he’s as at least as stern as he was when he scolded Javier Baez and his teammates for the thumbs down gesture they displayed as a way to boo back at fans during Sunday’s 9-4 win over the Nationals.
As an interim general manager presiding over a free-falling team that was criticized for its relative inactivity around the trade deadline, Scott was already an easy fall guy long before Wednesday. Ironically, his most decisive action thus far as a general manager is likely what makes it impossible to retain him.
During a press conference Aug. 10, Scott criticized players for the season-long spate of injuries suffered by the Mets, saying that the team “…can have the best plan, but if the plan’s not followed, that’s not going to necessarily yield a good result” and that “(y)ou’ve got to take ownership of your career and your health.”
The Mets’ injury woes are nothing new and have persisted through multiple medical regimes, so Scott’s comments were not without merit. And frankly, they were especially welcome and candid critiques aimed at a 2021 squad filled with players — mostly those who were not drafted and developed by the organization — who think they are above being criticized.
Now those words are hollow and hypocritical, and now the Mets need a lot more than just a good general manager — which was already essential, from a baseball perspective, after the struggles of first-time GMs Scott and Brodie Van Wagenen the last three years.
Why does it always have to be this way for the Mets? Cohen’s only task now is finding someone who can make sure it doesn’t.