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Mets News: Jared Porter incident is a troubling sign of a much larger issue

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 08: A detailed view of the hat, sunglasses and glove of a New York Mets player in the dugout steps during the spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 8, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 08: A detailed view of the hat, sunglasses and glove of a New York Mets player in the dugout steps during the spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 8, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

At around 11 p.m. on the evening of Monday January 18, news broke from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that sent shock waves around the sports world. In summary, Jared Porter, whom the New York Mets had recently hired to be their general manager, sent 62 unanswered text messages to a foreign reporter back in 2016 and included explicit photos.

The Mets apparently had no idea about this before the story broke, which I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that I do believe.

What I still can’t believe is how Porter managed to gain so much respect from others in baseball en route to ultimately achieving his dream of becoming a general manager.

This woman, who chose to remain anonymous, ended up leaving the journalism industry altogether and for years did not want ESPN to release this story because she feared for her career in her home country.

Mets have all of the evidence they need to move on from Jared Porter

Here are a few tweets I saw when Porter was hired this past December, all praising his character. As one might expect, these tweets are all from men in the industry.

I even wrote up an article reacting positively to his press conference at the time, showering him with praise and anticipating that he would be leading the Mets front office for years to come.

All of that fanfare is now irrelevant. The Mets, seemingly unknowingly, hired a sexual harasser and a complete creep to be their general manager. Unfortunately, this hire puts a huge damper on the overwhelming positivity that has been following the Mets this offseason. And it makes me feel truly sorry for this woman who still has the scars of the worst that baseball has to offer.

The New York Mets, as an organization, have never been the poster child of supporting women. In 1998, former general manager Steve Phillips was sued by a Mets employee for sexual harassment while he was still the GM. The case was ultimately settled out of court, with the Mets apparently believing that there was “absolutely no basis for any charge of sexual harassment.

Phillips was also fired from ESPN in 2009 after having an affair with a 22-year-old production assistant.

In 2014, the Wilpons fired a female employee who had become the first female senior vice president in Mets history because they were “morally opposed” to the fact that she was pregnant and unmarried. A NY Post article from the time of the incident mentioned the following repeated behavior.

“[Jeff Wilpon] frequently humiliated [her] in front of others by, among other things, pretending to see if she had an engagement ring on her finger. . . Wilpon told her that when she gets a ring she will make more money and get a bigger bonus.”

As other baseball teams have begun to hire more women up and down their organizations, the Mets have barely budged. They have never had a female coach at any level in their organization. They have never hired a female assistant general manager. They even interviewed and turned down new Miami Marlins GM Kim Ng for their open general manager job in 2018. This vacancy ultimately went to Brodie Van Wagenen, who had approximately 28 fewer years of front office experience than Ng did at the time.

The Mets did hire Jessica Mendoza to be an operations adviser for Van Wagenen back in March of 2019. She resigned from that position in February 2020 after signing a contract extension with ESPN.

Since 2018, new owner Steve Cohen’s hedge fund, Point 72 Asset Management, has received several lawsuits from female employees regarding gender discrimination.

Cohen and Sandy Alderson have both spoken repeatedly in recent months about building a “winning culture” and a “Mets way” in Queens. They likely meant winning as in “on-field success,” but if the Mets want to be respected as a baseball organization by any women out there who root for the team or aspire to work for them, they need to wholeheartedly commit to a culture of respect. “Winning” can’t just be about winning a World Series. They also need to win the trust of female fans, employees, and prospective future hires.

This story about Porter demonstrates that, as much as Major League Baseball might like to think that they have “solved the problem” of gender discrimination and sexual harassment with Ng’s hiring, they have not. The issue runs far deeper than any one woman. And lord knows how many other women might have had similar interactions with Porter over the years.

Mets beat reporter Deesha Thosar, who writes for the New York Daily News, might have put it best in her reaction on Twitter to this news: Baseball needs more women in positions of power.

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I hope that the Mets thoroughly vet any incoming front office hires after this incident. I also hope that they see this as an opportunity to actually commit to creating an organization that is more respectful and inclusive towards women. Men like Porter cannot be allowed to brazenly skate through the boys’ clubs of baseball front offices without any repercussions any longer.