The Mets made the move to fire Jared Porter in less than nine hours, which has to be some kind of record for a franchise that always had issues with accountability.
Then again, rarely has doing the right thing been more obvious.
Porter’s repugnant behavior in harassing a female reporter nearly five years ago was a fire-able offense long before he was hired to be GM just last month. But it still wound up being the Mets’ responsibility to terminate him after the ESPN report surfaced late Monday night, a scathing account (with incriminating screenshots) of Porter cyber-stalking the unidentified media member.
Incredibly, new owner Steve Cohen -- on the job for only 74 days himself -- didn’t even wait for his team to put out a press release. Cohen took to Twitter at 7:55 a.m. Tuesday to announce Porter’s firing, citing a "zero tolerance" for his actions.
No monitoring the talk-radio airwaves. No waiting for the media reaction. Swift, appropriate, unequivocal hammer-dropping. Message delivered and received.
There was no time for LOL Mets. Porter’s GM tenure lasted 37 days, then was removed like a Band-Aid being ripped off and discarded just as quickly. If Cohen and president Sandy Alderson truly are committed to culture change -- i.e., erasing the Wilpon stain from the franchise -- that means no room for half-measures.
And unlike the Carlos Beltran episode of a year ago, when the Mets willingly turned a blind eye to him being implicated in the Astros’ cheating scandal right up until the point where it was impossible to do so, Alderson and Co. didn’t get any advance warning on Porter.
They couldn’t ask Porter about him sending dozens of unwelcome texts to a female reporter, as well as some sketchy anatomical snaps, because the Mets didn’t know about them until contacted Monday night by ESPN for comment. As hard as that might be to believe in 2021, when everyone’s biographies are only a click way on social media, apparently it remains possible to keep a few dark corners hidden.
The Mets do get to plead ignorance in this particular case.
"I was shocked," Alderson said Tuesday on a Zoom call. "We had references from a variety of organizations, a number of individuals, people that had known him for a long time, people who endorsed him, who knew him from his earliest days in college. There wasn’t really a dissenting voice. From my standpoint, I was shocked. Eventually, that gives way to the disappointment and a little bit of anger. This was a total surprise to us."
The not-so-surprising part? Alderson sheepishly was forced to admit that none of those references were women, which is more of an indictment on the baseball industry as a whole than any failings by the Mets. Would speaking to any female executives, trainers or coaches have revealed Porter’s predatory side? Maybe. But the only evidence to surface has been from his cell phone, and short of an FBI-caliber background check, the Mets weren’t privy to that information during the interview process.
All they knew was Porter’s sterling reputation as a talent evaluator and supposedly being the Next Big Thing as far as young GMs go. He helped craft four World Series champions, as well as end two curses in Boston and Chicago’s North Side, while being a protege of future Hall of Famer Theo Epstein.
Porter was hailed as a genius hire, another brilliant acquisition for the Cohen Mets during a winter full of promise. The Ws already were stacking up in Flushing months before Opening Day. It was too good.
But dumping Porter doesn’t go down as just another humiliating episode for the Mets, to be filed away in that skyscraper-sized cabinet full of the facepalms and cringeworthy moments. Cohen and Alderson got the opportunity to rise above that with their unblinking stance Tuesday, allowing the Mets to make something better of the moment, and perhaps emerge stronger in correcting someone else’s destructive mistakes.
"Each of us represents the Mets to somebody," Alderson said. "And anytime the Mets are associated with this kind of conduct, we take a hit. We are the sum of all the impressions we make, good and bad. When these kinds of situations arise, we have to respond appropriately in the best interest of the organization and, in my case, as a representative not only of the owner but of all the employees."
Porter may have helped destroy a women’s career with his intimidating behavior -- ESPN noted she has since left journalism back in her home country -- and certainly blew up his own with those relentlessly creepy texts. He’s radioactive now, even if MLB’s subsequent investigation doesn’t produce any more evidence.
These Mets didn’t cause the Porter problem. But they should try to be a part of the solution, and maybe Tuesday was a step in that direction.