Not quite 18 hours after the story broke, Sandy Alderson addressed the New York media about the sexual harassment complaint brought against now former Mets general manager Jared Porter. Porter’s dismissal was made public this morning just after 8am when owner Steve Cohen tweeted the news, followed shortly by a statement by Alderson.
The timeline, according to Alderson, started with a 5:30pm phone call yesterday from Porter, where he made Alderson aware of the ESPN piece that was to go live later that evening. Porter explained the situation, admitted fault, expressed remorse, but Alderson felt that the gravity of the situation was not clear until reading the ESPN article and ‘seeing the video,’ which refers to the narrated slideshow video that was part of ESPN’s coverage.
Alderson spoke to someone at ESPN at 10pm, and had to craft a statement before the piece went live, and so had 15 minutes to put something together so the Mets would be represented in the piece. After both he and Cohen read the piece, they spoke on the phone this morning, came to the same conclusion about Porter’s future with the team, and Alderson made the phone call shortly thereafter to let Porter know their decision.
Alderson noted that this was carried out just about as quickly as possible, and was clear that this would have eliminated Porter from consideration for the GM position had the team known ahead of time. “Suffice it to say, if we had known about it in advance, it would’ve been a disqualification.”
One unfortunate, and likely unintentional, aspect of the press conference was that Alderson revealed the country of origin for the reporter who was the recipient of Porter’s harassment, a detail which had been left out to protect her identity thus far.
Alderson expressed utter shock at the allegations, saying that there was not a single voice from all of the folks consulted about Porter’s hire, from other clubs to references to former coworkers, that expressed even the slightest hint of Porter’s unfitness for the job. The team also conducted a routine background check, and asked Porter point blank if there was anything else they should know, to which he replied no.
“When I came here, my goal was to put a good team on the field and change the culture, and we’re not going to be able to do that - change the culture - unless we have very strict and well understood approach to these types of conversations.”
Alderson mentioned a ‘400 employee Zoom call’ earlier today, where the organization split people up into small groups to discuss this situation. Alderson continued to emphasize the importance in creating a culture both from the top down and the bottom up, and that he felt it was important to get the opinions of many, many voices within the organization, to make sure that the Mets were representing all of them, as they all represent the Mets to others.
It was noted that Alderson has not heard from any players, but knew that one anonymous player spoke out. Alderson said that he wished the player had the confidence to give a quote with attribution, because the player was right to call for the firing.
Of all of the questions asked on the call, the most important and direct, both in asking and in the answer, came from Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports. Keyser asked if anyone that Alderson and co. spoke to in Porter’s vetting was a women. Alderson’s initial, stark, answer was simply “no.” He followed it up by saying that the lack of women was “one of the unfortunate circumstances that exists in the game today,“ noting that there are very few women in senior management positions anywhere in baseball. Keyser capped off her time with a simple, and direct, “That is something to consider going forward.”
A theme that continued throughout the call was the idea that Alderson felt that, even under an “FBI-level” background check, there is always a risk with every hire that there is something hiding in someone’s past. Alderson frequently came back to the idea of this firing being a result of the team’s commitment to character, integrity, and transparency. Alderson expressed, at multiple points, a need for greater diversity across baseball, and specifically in the Mets organization.
The call also revealed some of the practical details of the Mets’ front office structure at the moment, which sees a ‘core group’ consisting of assistant general manager Zack Scott, senior vice president John Ricco, head of amateur and international scouting Tommy Tanous, head of pro scouting and Sandy’s son Bryn Alderson, recent analytics hire Ben Zauzmer, research and development director Joe Lefkowitz, and senior director of baseball operations Ian Levin.
When asked about replacing Porter, Alderson cited the less than one day since the story broke, and said that an outside hire was not going to happen this late into the offseason. When pressed, he said that it might make sense for assistant GM Scott to step into the role, or for Scott and Alderson to both share responsibility. He spoke of an update in ‘a day or two.’
When speaking specifically of what a Porter-less front office means to the Mets, Alderson pointed to ‘smaller moves to fill out our 25 and 40-man rosters” as perhaps being a casualty of Porter’s dismissal, due to his contacts in the game. Alderson indicated that free agent signings and larger trades, like the one for Francisco Lindor, had more of his mark on them, whereas yesterday’s trade for Joey Lucchesi was something that came more from Porter.
The similarity between the situation with Porter and Carlos Beltran, each being hired in the autumn and not making it to spring training, was addressed. Alderson pointed out the failure of two different front offices and two different vetting processes, but did not see too many similarities outside of the end results.
Alderson was unaware if Major League Baseball would open an investigation into Porter, but believed that they might.
Sparked by a question by Marc Carig of the Athletic, Alderson stated that he felt that society in general, more than baseball in particular, was at fault for the treatment of women. When Justin Toscano of the Bergen Record asked what the message is for women who feel discouraged about this situation and those like it, Alderson said that while the incident itself is discouraging, the response to this by the Mets - referring to their swift action - should be encouraging.
Steve Cohen, according to Alderson, wants to take a zero tolerance approach with situations such as this. There was a little pushback on this, pointing to Point72’s alleged history of gender discrimination, to which Alderson could simply point to the status quo he is attempting to set at the Mets.
The overall tenor of the conversation was that Alderson and Cohen were blindsided by this news, and felt the need to move swiftly and decisively. The team seems, at least from Alderson’s statements, interested in creating a more fair and diverse organization, and wants to improve in areas where it is clearly lacking. That is all a wonderful sentiment, but it all rings hollow if more actions are not taken. Hopefully, today’s press conference was the start of a new approach, and not simply the end of the Porter saga.