Don’t call it an #lolMets comeback. At least, not yet.
Jared Porter lasted 37 days as the New York Mets’ general manager, long enough to trade for All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and technically long enough to put two calendar years on his resume, but shorter than Carlos Beltran’s tenure last year as winter manager.
News broke Monday last night that Porter had sent harassing text messages, including an inappropriate photo, to a female reporter while working for the Cubs’ front office in 2017. He was fired by the morning.
New York Mets’ Jared Porter situation
These types of PR fiascos in the past have drawn the #lolMets hashtag, and its true that the Mets have often exacerbated personnel issues by handling them in a variety of unprofessional ways. Some choice examples include the eternal “Bobby Bonilla Day” payment to a player who retired almost two decades ago, firing Willie Randolph at 3 am EST while the team was on the road, agent-turned-GM Brodie Van Wagenen contradicting his bosses on a hot mic last summer, and the aforementioned Beltran hire, which was undone after his role in the Astros’ cheating scandal was revealed.
But the common denominator in all of those past debacles was the Wilpons and their tone-deaf leadership as owners. Under new owner Steve Cohen, fans had hoped the team would move past petty media fights and financial woes.
While the Porter situation is embarrassing, it’s not clear if the Mets deserve any of the blame. In fact, they took swift and appropriate action as soon as the news broke. Both Mets President Sandy Alderson and Cohen released public statements unequivocally denouncing Porter’s behavior.
While Porter may look foolish for his own statements about wanting a “cultural shift” for the team, the rest of their front office appear consistent in their messaging.
Are the Mets to blame for prior transgressions from Jared Porter?
Would the Mets have known about Porter’s sexting if they’d vetted him more thoroughly? That is also unclear. Porter had an impressive track record and was highly regarded both inside baseball and by sports analysts as a potential GM. According to the initial ESPN story that broke, reporters had obtained the messages in 2017 but the woman did not want them to go public at the time, for fear of it harming her own career. It is far more suspicious that the Cubs said and did nothing, considering the ESPN story also claims that several of their employees were aware of the situation. The Mets are also not the first team to hire him since that time.
To what extent the Mets could have pursued leads might be clarified by a forthcoming MLB investigation into Porter’s past … or it might not. Is someone’s inappropriate come-ons an unknown unknown or are teams taking a don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach and risking the big public blow-up?
Compare the Mets rapidly cutting ties with Porter, and how both the team and the media handled a sexual discrimination case from 2015. Then, a former employee accused Jeff Wilpon of harassment and discrimination during her pregnancy. The Mets’ denials, while expected, came across as petty and the story implied at best, a backwards parochial way of doing business, and at worst, a workplace openly hostile to women.
Now, with women like Kim Ng ascending to the upper ranks of baseball front offices, such a culture is untenable. The Mets may not deserve any special praise for firing Porter, but the team is also no longer moving against the current. And for now, Mets fans can still feel good about that.