By all accounts, the New York Mets, along with various other former employers in the sport, were legitimately shocked by the revelations in an ESPN story published Monday evening that forced the team to fire recently-hired general manager Jared Porter.
Perhaps, though, the Mets got unanimously glowing reviews on Porter during the process of interviewing and eventually hiring him because they only considered the opinions of males.
When Hannah Keyser of Yahoo! Sports asked Mets president Sandy Alderson Tuesday if the club had consulted with any women during the hiring process, he admitted that they didn't.
"No, that’s one of the unfortunate circumstances in the game," Alderson said. "There aren’t women in those positions with which one can have a convo and get info or check references."
Mina Kimes and Jeff Passan, the authors of the story, obtained more than 62 consecutive unanswered texts between Porter and an anonymous former female reporter the summer of 2016, when he was working in the Chicago Cubs organization. Even after being curved by the reporter, Porter proceeded to send pictures of "a bulge in the pants" and eventually "his bare penis."
It's possible that this was a one-off situation, one that only a very select group of people in and around the sport knew about. Still, you're left to wonder if Porter had any similar interactions with other females in baseball, or if he would have if more women were employed in powerful positions within the sport. Alderson didn't deny that a blind spot exists in baseball, but wondered if someone working with Porter in a professional sense would have had this type of experience with him.
"There was not one single rec from a woman, and that’s a reflection of the demographics of the game," Alderson said. "On the other hand, I don’t believe that any of the people who were references could have predicted this from their professional relationship with Jared. It’s very hard for me to indict an industry, or the individuals we talked to."
Of course, Porter had this interaction with someone he knew from his professional life. Club executives and media members are not co-workers, but that type of relationship is typically present between the two parties. Porter crossed that line with one person in his professional life, so while it's possible no other person in a professional setting would have been able to shed light on his behavior, it's a tough case to make.
Alderson, 73, said the Mets will not immediately hire a replacement for Porter, moving into the season with him as the head of baseball operations. One would think that whether it's as the next general manager or in other high-ranking roles, the Mets will likely hire a few qualified women to fill roles over the next few years.
Ultimately, though, Alderson acknowledged how important it is to remove men from baseball that have created a toxic culture for the few women already in significant roles in the sport, including the reporter involved in this story, who has since changed careers.
"I saw an article written earlier today, and was very sorry to read the degree to which the writer was subjected to this kind of harassment," Alderson continued. "I think it’s an indictment of the industry, but more broadly, our society. I think this happens in lots of places, and is tolerated in too many places. MLB has a policy to deal with this, and deal with it harshly, and hopefully as we go on, these kinds of incidents will become fewer and fewer.
"I totally agree – I think men should be accountable. This is sort of a societal problem. We view these situations differently sometimes as men and women – and in my case, this may be because men are less sensitive to these issues. It’s important that different sensitivities are reflected in assessing situations and determining what’s appropriate. It’s not about putting the onus on women – the onus is on all of us to root this out where it exists."