For a while early in the offseason, it appeared as though the Cubs had zeroed in on Jared Porter, their former director of professional scouting to fill their GM role. Porter had left Chicago following the 2016 season to join the Diamondbacks as an assistant GM under Mike Hazen, with whom he’d previously worked in Boston, and was widely considered a top executive in waiting.
Rather than return to his old stomping grounds, Porter ended up joining the Mets, ostensibly because new owner Steve Cohen looks like a free spender who’s interested in paying for a contender. Meanwhile, the Cubs need a hatchet-man who’s willing to sell bodily fluids in order to raise money for a new pitcher. Jed Hoyer said during a recent press conference that the Cubs’ GM role would remain vacant for the time being, a decision many chalked up to not wanting to spend money.
That may indeed be at the heart of the matter, but news broke Monday night that confirms the Cubs should not have brought Porter back into the fold. Based on a report by ESPN’s Mina Kimes and Jeff Passan, Porter engaged in a pattern of despicable conduct when he harassed a female reporter with a series of lewd text messages when he was still with the Cubs in 2016.
The woman, a foreign correspondent who had moved to the United States to cover Major League Baseball, said at one point she ignored more than 60 messages from Porter before he sent the final lewd photo. The text relationship started casually before Porter, then the Chicago Cubs director of professional scouting, began complimenting her appearance, inviting her to meet him in various cities and asking why she was ignoring him. And the texts show she had stopped responding to Porter after he sent a photo of pants featuring a bulge in the groin area.
Porter continued texting her anyway, sending dozens of messages despite the lack of a response. On Aug. 11, 2016, a day after asking her to meet him at a hotel in Los Angeles, Porter sent the woman 17 pictures. The first 15 photos were of the hotel and its restaurants. The 16th was the same as an earlier photo of the bulge in the pants. The 17th was of a bare penis.
If you haven’t already, please click the link above to see the full story and get all the context around the events. I’m not going to lay out much more here because Kimes and Passan did an incredible job and there’s a great deal of detailed information in their piece. What I will note, however, is that the woman Porter was harassing brought the matter up with a Cubs employee from her home country.
She and this anonymous employee met during the 2016 postseason to discuss Porter’s behavior and whether the woman planned to file a lawsuit against Porter. They met again during spring training in 2017 and the Cubs employee pressed the woman for more information about possible legal action. ESPN confirmed that the Cubs employee did indeed discuss the situation with both the woman and Porter.
The article doesn’t speculate on whether any of Porter’s other coworkers were aware of his activities, but it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility to believe they may have. It’s even less of a stretch to believe this kind of depraved behavior was not isolated to one instance. It may come as a surprise to those men who are reading this and find the idea of sending unsolicited dick pics to women unthinkable, but I can assure you from the conversations I’ve had that it’s a far more common practice than you believe.
I guess what I’m driving at here is that perhaps Porter ending up in New York wasn’t just a matter of the Cubs being cheap. Maybe they knew or even just suspected something and were smart enough to avoid another PR disaster on top of what’s going on with the budget right now. And that’s without even discussing how they basically looked the other way with Addison Russell for far too long.
Zooming back out to the bigger picture here, we have yet another example of how women in the sports industry face challenges men never do. More accurately, those very men are the ones creating the challenges. Not that sports are some unique bastion of shitty male behavior, quite the opposite. But because sports are so male-dominated and the people involved are both powerful and popular, these stories typically get a little more publicity than the kind of unwanted sexual advances being fended off every day by women everywhere.
And like so many of those untold stories, this one almost went unreported because the victim at its center feared her career would be damaged if she allowed it to be published. She was worried about the inevitable victim-blaming and the potential for negative reaction in a home country that isn’t too keen on women’s empowerment. All the while, MLB’s Ivy League establishment kept pushing Porter up the ladder.
Men, please do better.
Update: Cohen tweeted Tuesday morning that the Mets have fired Porter.
We have terminated Jared Porter this morning . In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it.There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) January 19, 2021