Mets president Sandy Alderson shows desire to learn from Jared Porter and Mickey Callaway harassment allegations

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Andy Martino
·4 min read
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Sandy Alderson treated light blue background
Sandy Alderson treated light blue background

The world has heard enough from men on issues of gender and sexual harassment in baseball this winter, and the last thing it needs is more commentary from me.

In that spirit, we’ll do our best to stick to information here, and leave the evaluation of the Mets’ efforts to those more qualified.

The fact is that this writer -- along with Mets president Sandy Alderson and the vast majority of the people employed in and around baseball -- have lived lives cloaked in privilege so blinding that it often takes crises for us to know it exists.

Alderson can’t do anything to change the fact that he hired Mickey Callaway and Jared Porter, both of whom were later credibly accused of sexual harassment. But while pursuing free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer, he did implement the beginnings of a different process, asking groups of Mets employees that included women what they thought of Bauer’s online behavior.

"We did a lot of homework on his social media,” Alderson said in a Monday news conference. “We went through a lot of that, and that's not to say there weren't still risks associated with it. We talked extensively to the agent about what we thought would be necessary at the outset in terms of taking responsibility for what had happened in the past and taking some responsibility for what might happen in the future.”

Over the years, Bauer has encouraged his fans to go after users with small followings who criticized him. He has also, at a minimum, flirted with transphobia, birtherism and anti-immigration sentiments. If I were running the Mets, I wouldn’t have offered him $105 million.

But at least the process in vetting Bauer was more detailed than those that brought Callaway and Porter into the organization. This alone is not enough, and we’re not here to award the Mets a medal for doing what should be obvious. But it’s hard to over-emphasize how behind on these issues the industry is, and how the wheels of progress are just beginning to grind to life.

Even before the allegations about Callaway’s predatory behavior surfaced last month in a thorough investigation by The Athletic, that hire was one of Alderson’s lowest moments as Mets GM.

After moving on from Terry Collins in the fall of 2017, the Mets interviewed Callaway, one of that winter’s hot managerial candidates. Callaway then went to speak with the Philadelphia Phillies, giving the Mets a sense of urgency to snap him up before a division rival did.

From a purely baseball standpoint, that breakdown in process proved almost immediately unwise. Callaway was overmatched during games and in the clubhouse.

The Mets’ haste also prevented them from looking into Callaway’s personal background -- a background that we now know included a reputation for inappropriate behavior with women.

On Monday, Alderson conceded the mistake.

"I think especially in retrospect, there probably should've been a broader assessment of his qualifications," he said. "In terms of people we actually talked to, there were no reservations. I think the process should've been broader. We've learned that lesson and the process that we currently have is and will be broader than it was in 2018."

The same, of course, can be said about the Porter hire. After an ESPN report revealed Porter’s previous harassment of a female reporter, a probing question from Hannah Keyser of Yahoo! Sports forced Alderson to admit that he hadn’t asked any women about Porter while considering his candidacy.

In part because of this, Alderson was stunned and disgusted by the revelations this winter about his two high-profile hires, and the more recently fired hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis, also accused of harassment. On Monday he described efforts to listen, learn and create new procedures.

"In respect to the vetting process, we're being more intentional about communicating with women that have had some contact, not necessarily fellow employees, but other third parties that might have come in contact," Alderson said.

"We're probably taking our background checks to a somewhat higher level to the extent that we can. … We just have to be mindful of each of these cases. We have to be broader in our understanding of who these people are and what their backgrounds may be."

Of course, if those of us who enjoy privilege had been paying attention all along, we wouldn’t be surprised by any of what has happened. The negligence of white men in this industry has caused much suffering. Count the writer of this article among those accidentally culpable.

Alderson has now made clear that he is attempting improvements in both consciousness and actions. He wants to be part of the solution.

Will any of it be enough?

That’s not for me to say.