The New York Mets are caught up in a second sexual harassment scandal this offseason. What’s at the root of the franchise’s problem?
I need to be honest: this isn’t my story. I’m not a woman in sports. I’ve never felt what it’s like to fill those shoes. I’ll never know what it’s like to be in those shoes. Still, I felt that this was a necessary piece to write. Someone needs to call attention to the horrifying issues in the Mets front office and the continued issues they’re facing. I didn’t feel like I could stay on the sidelines anymore.
To many, this seems like a bad dream. How could the New York Mets have hired two people accused of sexual harassment? Many will say they’re isolated incidents, and that the two have nothing to do with each other.
They’ll say that Jared Porter and Mickey Callaway are part of an issue, but one that’s being worked on. They’ll point to the Miami Marlins hiring Kim Ng as their general manager as proof that MLB is working on advancing women.
Here’s the thing though, these aren’t isolated incidents. Women working in sports have to deal with sexual harassment, gender bias, and hate at every turn. That includes reporters, coaches, scouts, and front-office employees.
It’s likely that nearly every single one of them has at some point dealt with issues like the ones detailed in the reports against Jared Porter and Mickey Callaway.
So what makes the Mets different? Well, the franchise has been as hostile to women as possible for a long time. It started with the Wilpon family, but it clearly wasn’t just the Wilpons at fault.
How many women hold coaching positions with the Mets? Zero. How many women hold front office executive titles in the baseball ops department? Zero.
The Mets have an issue, and it extends far past the Wilpons. Sadly, there’s evidence that their mindset might not be changing.
Former New York Mets GM Jared Porter
On January 18th ESPN dropped a bombshell. A joint report by Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes proved that then-New York Mets’ GM Jared Porter had sexually harassed a reporter during his time with the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks organizations.
It was a truly horrific story to read. Even worse, it led to the woman leaving sports media. Nobody should ever have to change careers because a man believes he’s allowed to harass a woman. Yet, here we were.
The Mets didn’t know anything about this before hiring Porter. They promptly fired Porter the next morning. A good step, but one that never should have had to happen.
When questioned about Porter’s hiring, New York Mets’ president Sandy Alderson said he’d heard nothing but good things about Porter. A reporter asked if he’d contacted any women about Porter, Alderson said he didn’t.
He hid behind a wall claiming that it’s a shame MLB doesn’t promote enough women. Since women weren’t in high-level positions he had no reason to talk to them. As if, Alderson never even considered speaking to the reporters that Porter had interacted with to see how he dealt with the media, which should be standard.
If Alderson had taken that simple step, he most likely would have heard about Porter’s reputation as described in Passan and Kimes’ report. Porter never would have been hired and the Mets could have avoided this embarrassment. Hopefully, they also would have reported the harassment they uncovered to MLB, but maybe that’s too optimistic.
Still, it was an isolated incident to many. An embarrassing moment for a franchise that’s had many over the years. A reputation that actually protected the Mets to an extent. At least, it did for a few weeks.
Former Mets manager Mickey Callaway
On February 1st, The Athletic dropped a second bombshell. Brittany Ghiroli and Katie Strang reported that former New York Mets’ manager Mickey Callaway had sexually harassed five women across three cities.
Another horrifying report that showed that as much as people want to deny it, MLB is just a boys club. The worst part though, The Mets were reportedly alerted to an accusation made against Callway in August of 2018. Obviously, the Mets did nothing as Callaway not only finished the season, but got to manage another one.
Callaway was another Sandy Alderson hire. To be fair, Alderson had already left the team, due to his battle with cancer, when the team received the accusation in 2018. Still, it’s fair to be critical that Alderson once again didn’t do his due diligence, or even more disturbing is the fact he probably knew and hired Callaway anyway.
After all, as one of Callaway’s accusers said about his harassment, “It was the worst-kept secret in sports.”
With two sexual harassment hires on the books, it’s obvious that Alderson has a lot to answer for. Was he truly oblivious? Did he know and not care? Did he not want to know and just turned a blind eye?
Whatever the case, it’s clear that Alderson has issues with his hiring process. To his credit, he’s said the Mets are now reviewing their hiring practices.
A fix now would be great, but it still doesn’t make up for the women who fell victim because of his poor due diligence at best and willful ignorance at worst.
Despite this, the Mets continue to chase a known harasser on the free-agent market.
Trevor Bauer is coming off a NL Cy Young in 2020. He’s hitting free agency at peak value and looking to cash in. It’s easy to see why teams would have interest in Bauer on the field, the New York Mets included.
Off the field is a different case. Bauer is known to attack women on social media. In one case, he harassed a college student. Bauer has since acknowledged his mistake and apologized.
If it ended there, maybe this could be overlooked. Maybe some could have been convinced to give him a second chance. After all, he didn’t sexually harass her. He got into a Twitter fight and recognized his behavior was wrong. Had he corrected his mistake maybe this wouldn’t be an issue now.
Instead, Bauer continued to harass and bully women on Twitter, despite his claims that he doesn’t.
For context, please read through this Twitter thread by New York Daily News reporter Kate Feldman who went through Bauer’s harassment first hand.
I had death threats and Holocaust jokes in my mentions for months after he went after me. I didn't tag him. I didn't even QT him. This is what his followers did after he told them to go after me. This is OK with his agent, reporters and, I guess, the Mets. https://t.co/ITMuJxdchW
— Kate Feldman (@kateefeldman) January 22, 2021
Despite these constant and known attacks against women, Sandy Alderson publicly said, “I just think he has a personality and sometimes, look, professional wrestling was built around villains so entertainment has always been about good versus evil. And I’m not saying that Trevor is in either one of those categories, but he’s different, and I think that, generally speaking, people embrace those differences. They are conversation-creating and I think that in New York where we have a real variety of fans and attitudes, I think he would come across well.”
There’s nowhere to hide here. Alderson comes as close to admitting that Bauer’s public image is an issue as possible, while also saying that the New York market is the perfect place for people to fall in love with his heel persona. Almost acting as if Bauer’s personality weren’t real, but a character made for a television show.
The Mets haven’t signed Bauer yet, and they may never sign Bauer. However, it’s clear that Alderson has little to no issue with Bauer’s attacking women on social media. In fact, he pretty much encouraged it in his comments.
This all forces us to ask the question; Does Sandy Alderson actually care about how his employees treat women? From what we’ve seen and heard this offseason, the answer seems to be no.
That’s a sad conclusion to come to after looking up to Alderson whose contributions to the game will likely land him in the Hall of Fame one day.
Maybe it shouldn’t really be all that surprising though. After all, whether your a man or woman working in sports, you’ve probably heard that the game is a boys club.
This problem runs much deeper than one or two incidents. This is a systemic problem in the world of sports. That needs to be acknowledged. Not just by reporters, but by the people in the game. Then those people need to make meaningful changes.
Enough is enough.