The late Gene Michael always laughed as he told stories about how he pushed back against the impetuosity of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in Michael's tenure as general manager of the team. There was the time that Steinbrenner, frustrated by the slow development of young outfielder Bernie Williams, ordered Michael to call all other teams and collect offers for Williams, and then trade him.
As Michael told the story, he cast a wide net of phone calls as ordered -- and talked about a lot of stuff, but never about Bernie Williams. Then he dutifully reported to Steinbrenner that yes, he had spoken to every team, but didn't get a single offer for the center fielder. Steinbrenner, his anger satiated for the moment, moved on, and Williams went on to become an All-Star for the Yankees.
There were other times when Michael simply said no to Steinbrenner, as did one of Michael's successors, Brian Cashman. Steinbrenner once ordered Cashman to trade for Blue Jays outfielder Raul Mondesi, and Cashman, rightly believing Mondesi was not a good fit, refused. Steinbrenner benched Cashman and had another executive finish the deal. But Cashman stood his ground and could have easily been fired, but eventually, Steinbrenner restored Cashman's power because he trusted his motives and his word. Cashman is now in his 22nd season as GM.
These are lessons and operating principles that should be considered by New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who are both trying to navigate their organization's long-standing culture of blame -- and both will inevitably drown, unless something changes, with Callaway likely to go under before Van Wagenen.