Jared Porter is out as general manager of the Mets, and that’s good. The new ownership in New York promised accountability, and after ESPN’s detailed report Monday night on Porter’s harassment of a reporter with dozens of text messages, including a dick pic, Porter was given the heave-ho on Tuesday morning.
This is not, however, a situation, where all’s well that ends well. The fact that Porter was able to rise through three organizations and become general manager of the Mets in the first place is a sign of how deep baseball’s culture of misogyny goes.
As ESPN’s Mina Kimes and Jeff Passan reported, Porter’s harassment was not a secret. “Three other people interviewed by ESPN said they saw or were told of the texts at the time.” And after the reporter that Porter harassed connected with a Cubs employee, “the employee confirmed he knows Porter and the woman and that he had discussed the situation with both.” ESPN’s reporting that “she said he pressed her numerous times on whether she planned to file a lawsuit against Porter” points to the organization being aware of the situation, in contrast to the team’s statement that “Had we been notified, we would have taken swift action as the alleged behavior is in violation of our code of conduct.”
Porter was the Cubs’ director of professional scouting in 2016 when they acquired previously suspended and generally unrepentant domestic abuser Aroldis Chapman. While Porter was gone from Chicago by the time Addison Russell’s abuse of his wife came to light, the behavior was ongoing while Porter was part of the organization and himself making a woman’s life miserable.
“Had we been notified…” do you really believe the Cubs would have done anything, or would they have tried to sweep it under the rug?
Mets president Sandy Alderson gave a hint to that in his initial statement late Monday night.
“Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgement, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse, and has previously apologized for his actions?”
Previously apologized? So, it came to light that something happened with Porter, and he had apologized for it. It’s reasonable to guess that the fact that he’d sent all those text messages had come up, but not that he’d turned his penis into pixels. You can see where the line is between “can apologize for this” and “gets fired immediately,” but that line is not where it needs to be.
A baseball executive who sends 60-plus unanswered text messages to try to get in bed with a reporter is not someone who should be given greater positions of power, regardless of whether any of those messages were graphic images. And even if you say that Porter should be able to get a second chance, what about the first chance for so many people outside the privileged white dude matrix that brought Porter through Thayer Academy, Bowdoin College, and the ability to get internships in the Cape Cod League before immediately joining the Red Sox as an intern as a 25-year-old?
What about the woman whose career ended because of the stress that Porter put her under, just because she was a woman and he could use the power of his position to make her life hell?
Porter left the Cubs after the 2016 World Series to become assistant general manager of the Diamondbacks, and Arizona released its own statement on Monday night:
“We were obviously not aware of these allegations from 2016, and had we been, we would have investigated and addressed the situation immediately.”
Why weren’t the Diamondbacks aware? What kind of due diligence did they do before hiring Porter as a top executive in their organization? How did the Cubs’ worries about being sued over Porter’s behavior never come up? Whether it’s on the Diamondbacks not doing enough digging or those in the know not sharing the information, it’s a failure of baseball’s executive culture.
This is the same culture that elevated Brandon Taubman to the point where he felt he could taunt female reporters about how happy the then-Astros assistant GM was to have acquired domestic abuser Roberto Osuna. The person that Taubman was didn’t change during his time with the Astros. It’s who he was, and he was fired because he brought it into public view.
These are not isolated incidents. They’re part of a pattern in which a man’s ability to identify and analyze baseball talent is valued over his behavior as a human being. It’s good that the Mets have fired Porter, but the problem that baseball has to address is why men like Porter and Taubman are consistently allowed to get as far as they do in the game in the first place.