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Jared Porter underlines MLB’s culture of male privilege

A good ‘baseball mind’ doesn’t matter if you’re a vulgar schmuck. 

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks assistant GM Jared Porter Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

Like the reporter he sexually harassed, former Mets general manager Jared Porter will need to leave the industry in which he chose to work.

In baseball, reporters have little control over the setting where they interview players. During batting practice and in the hours before game time, players, coaches and personnel fan out across the field. A group of guys might be stretching down the first base line. Pitchers could be in the bullpen. Players are shagging fly balls in the outfield. You get the picture.

Still, the players — like the press — are at work and on the clock. That means reporters make every effort not to disturb a player’s pregame routine. When a media member wants to chat with a specific player, it often happens on the fly. The reporter might catch him in the dugout during a short water break, or while he’s walking to the clubhouse. The point is that reporters don’t always have much of a choice over the locale where they ask questions.

It’s impossible for an MLB reporter to do her best work if she must be on guard and ready to dodge the scene at any moment. How could she? It would be impossible for anyone, doing any job, to work their hardest under those circumstances. It’s not a life-or-death situation, but if by experience, she knows that staying put raises the odds that she’ll receive 62 texts and a dick pic later that evening, which should she choose? How can she excel at her job while weighing the pros and cons of those two options? Get the quote she needs to support her story and she might become the unwilling recipient of Porter’s penis photo. Do a half-assed job covering the game and she might avoid sexual harassment that night. Might.

Sure, the concept of “joke stock images” is funny in a kind of pathetic way. But let’s review the facts here.

  1. Porter targeted a woman who was outside her comfort zone, in an unfamiliar country where she was still learning the language and customs. Porter specifically chose to sexually harass a woman who was easier to take advantage of due to the language barrier between them.
  2. Because of Porter, this woman’s workplace became a setting through which she could not move freely. In essence, he constrained her movement by controlling the space where she could feel comfortable.
  3. At least one Cubs employee failed to report Porter’s harassment. And rather than help this vulnerable colleague, the Cubs employee encouraged her to embrace being sexually harassed.
  4. Porter was not fired from his high-profile baseball operations role with the Cubs. He wasn’t even reprimanded at the time. In fact, after behaving deplorably, he landed an even better position with the Diamondbacks.
  5. Speaking of the Diamondbacks, it’s fairly common for students at Arizona State University’s sports journalism school to intern with the D-backs for a semester or two. Would you want college students, who often feel awkward and out of their element in an MLB locker room regardless, to work alongside this man?

Porter harassed a vulnerable reporter, sent her lewd photos against her will and then an MLB team promoted him. How much effort does MLB really invest when it comes to hiring and developing the careers of women and other underrepresented groups?

Screenshot of MLB’s Diversity and Inclusion webpage from MLB.com
Screenshot of MLB’s Diversity and Inclusion webpage from MLB.com

For women and other minorities, it’s extremely difficult to simply get a job in baseball. Even if they accomplish this goal, moving up the career ladder is even more challenging. Let’s say they do, though; an entitled and creepy assistant GM could still crap all over their livelihood.

MLB teams continued to employ Porter, rewarding him in roles with an increasing amount of authority. Meanwhile, the woman he relentlessly harassed had to leave her chosen professional field. She had to keep her mouth shut to avoid retribution and cultural shaming in her home country. And still, her fears might come true.

During a media call yesterday, Mets team president Sandy Alderson revealed the reporter’s home country, even though ESPN specifically omitted this detail from the story. Alderson also mentioned that people had great things to say about Porter’s character and integrity during his interview process for the GM job.

In a tweet, Yahoo Sports reporter Hannah Keyser said she asked Alderson if any of the people he consulted were women. According to Keyser, he said no. At present, the Mets don’t employ any women in roles with hiring power. That men hold 100 percent of the executive, decision-making roles within the Mets organization belies MLB’s Workforce Diversity and Inclusion statement, which reads: Major League Baseball seeks to be both an employer and sport of choice for all by incorporating a diverse and inclusive meritocracy throughout the culture of baseball, particularly in the business decision-making and personnel processes.

Right now, that just doesn’t seem true.