The Brooklyn Nets landed James Harden to grab the inside track toward a berth in the NBA finals. The New York Yankees re-upped D.J. LeMahieu to bolster the odds of a World Series appearance. The New York Jets lured Robert Saleh, a coaching hire that even their most persistent critics approve. And the New York Mets? Well, the Mets are acting like the Mets. Jared Porter has wiped up 11 weeks of goodwill built up by the new ownership.
The New York Mets had been moving in the right direction
Billionaire Steve Cohen became the majority owner of the New York Mets on Oct. 30, 2020, giving the MLB team’s fans reason for optimism for the first time in years. Cohen’s arrival meant the end of the penny-pinching days of the Wilpon family, which took a financial hit in the Bernie Madoff scandal and subsequently operated the team on a budget more in line with small- and mid-sized markets.
Cohen moved quickly to install Sandy Alderson as president, and fans were pleased with the string of player personnel moves that included making a qualifying offer to pitcher Marcus Stroman, signing catcher James McCann and swinging a deal for shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The owner also quickly cut ties with Brodie Van Wagenen, whose move from player agent to MLB team general manager was a failure. Cohen and Alderson turned to Jared Porter as their new GM.
Porter arrived from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he was a senior vice president and assistant GM since 2017. At 41 years old, he was viewed as the guy who could work closely with Alderson, 73, for a couple of seasons and then take full control of the baseball side of the franchise.
Owner Steve Cohen had to fire general manager Jared Porter
Barely on the job a month, New York Mets general manager Jared Porter found himself out the door on Jan. 19, 2021. Mets owner Steve Cohen went on Twitter to make the announcement hours after the GM acknowledged in a report by ESPN that he sent unsolicited sexually explicit pictures to a female reporter while employed by the Chicago Cubs in 2016.
According to several media outlets, Porter met the woman at Yankee Stadium in June 2016 and asked her out for a drink three times that day. That was followed by a stream of text messages, and an explicit image was the final message in a string of 62 texts that she did not acknowledge.
Porter conceded to ESPN that he texted the woman, a foreign correspondent living in the U.S. to cover baseball, but initially denied sending pictures. When told that ESPN had copies of selfies and other images, Porter said that the more explicit photos were “like joke-stock images.”
When contacted for comment Monday night, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the team would “review the facts regarding this serious issue.” By the following morning, Porter had been fired.
The issue is doubly sensitive for Cohen, who was recently accused of using vulgar language toward female employees at his hedge fund in a gender discrimination complaint New York Times.
The New York Mets have seen a comparable mess
It’s not as though the New York Mets haven’t been through problems with a young general manager before. In November 1998, the team announced that they had settled a sexual harassment claim involving then-GM Steve Phillips and a former employee who worked in the team’s offices in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and The New York Times reported that neither side would comment further. The matter began in the offseason when Phillips, 35 at the time, announced he was taking a leave of absence to deal with an allegation of sexual harassment.
The Mets stood by Phillips, deciding that there was a consensual sexual relationship between Phillips and the woman but no harassment. Owners Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday retained Phillips.