Less than 24 hours after ESPN’s bombshell report revealing Jared Porter’s inappropriate and lewd behavior toward a female reporter in 2016 — and less than 10 hours after the New York Mets fired him as general manager — team Sandy Alderson was left to help the media and baseball world sift through the rubble of the fallout.
“With respect to these series of incidents, those are the kinds of things that this organization and many others find abhorrent and not tolerable in any shape or form,” Alderson said via Zoom Tuesday evening. “We responded as quickly as we possibly could given the fact that we needed to sort out the facts and deliberate on this, keeping in mind that while there were two individuals involved — the woman who was victimized — and keeping in mind the extraordinary impact this would have on Jared and his career… We decided that he needed to be let go. I’m very sorry for the woman involved. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that we weren’t’ aware of when Jared was hired and only learned of last night.”
“Had we known about it in advance, it would’ve been a disqualification.”
The report from Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes provided a “total surprise” to the organization, which hired the 41-year-old just 37 days prior.
“We had references from a variety of organizations, a number of individuals who’ve known him for a long time… there wasn’t really a dissenting voice,” Alderson said. “From my standpoint, I was shocked. Eventually, that gives way to disappointment and a little bit of anger.
“We did a background check, we asked a question if there was anything else we needed to know… But given the length of time that’s transpired between the series of incidents and now, I’m confident that this is not something we should’ve known about or should’ve found out about… None of the other organizations [the Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks] in which Jared was employed knew about this, either.”
Of those references, none were women.
“That’s a reflection of the demographics of the game today in front offices,” he said. “So I think that says something very loudly. On the other hand, I don’t believe that any of the people who were references could’ve predicted this from their professional relationships with Jared.”
While he agreed that women need to be referred to more while pondering if FBI-like background checks could further enhance what teams can find out about prospective employees, Alderson admitted there isn’t much else that can be done during the vetting process.
“Look, this is a wake-up call. It clearly suggests that something like this can be out there in connection to almost anyone and we have to do our best to make sure we know about that information,” he said. “But there are limits to what we can actually get, particularly in a case when this information is aged four or five years. It certainly raises questions that we need to reflect upon and decide if things need to change, but I don’t think this reflects a fundamental flaw in the process.”
Alderson noted that Porter called him around 5:30 p.m. ET on Monday to warn him of the story ESPN would be running, but the “full breadth of the situation wasn’t apparent to us until the article was written.”
Given the time of the article’s publishing — around 11 p.m. — Alderson did not speak to Cohen until approximately 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The discussion on the course of action to take was a quick one.
“We both arrived at the same conclusion independently,” Alderson said.
With Porter now out of the picture, the Mets will not be hiring a short-term general manager. Assistant GM Zack Scott, who was hired in late-December, immediately becomes a logical option for at least an interim option.
“We’re 18 hours or so out from when this incident first occurred to where we are today and some of those discussions haven’t taken place, but you’re right to speculate on that,” Alderson said. “I hope to resolve that in the next day or two.”
For now, the focus is getting back to core values and hitting the reset button.
“Steve [Cohen] has talked about zero tolerance and I think that for incidents of this type, of this magnitude, or any incident that approaches this kind of magnitude, that’s the response,” Alderson said. “In this case, we have to explore the facts but this is not something that we’re going to tolerate.”
“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 approaches to this kind of situation.”