Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Thoughts on George Springer and Jared Porter

Your order is up, Mr. Porter
I started writing a post about Jared Porter yesterday, but then doctor appointments chewed up the majority of my day. I have a few thoughts on that matter that I'll share later in this post, but I thought I would weigh in on George Springer signing with the Blue Jays first. I spent most of this offseason pretty sure that Springer would sign with the Mets, especially once they signed James McCann to be their starting catcher. I stopped believing that Springer would be a Met the day the Francisco Lindor trade was announced. I still hoped that the Mets might somehow land the guy, but I knew that it would require some luck. The reality of the situation was that the Blue Jays were able to offer more than the Mets were comfortable with to land the guy. Frankly, if the rumors that the Mets were willing to go up to north of $120 million to land Springer are true, I find it hard to find fault with that effort.

There might come a day when the Mets have demonstrated to the rest of baseball that they are the well-run perennial contender which we're all hoping they will become. At that point, I wouldn't be surprised at all to find a good player willing to take less money to play for the Mets for a chance to win. Steve Cohen's purchase of the Mets has energized the fan base and put the rest of baseball on notice that these aren't the Wilpon Mets anymore, but it's going to take on the field success for the club to start proving to the rest of baseball that they're not the same old Mets. The whole Porter fiasco certainly didn't help in that regard, either, although the Mets certainly made the right move by firing the guy immediately.

This was always going to be a multi-year project, although it's still incumbent on the Mets to continue to make moves to be as good as possible this coming season. There is still plenty of work to be done. The Mets aren't going to get every one of their potential targets, whether it's George Springer, Brad Hand or any other name linked with them. But there are a lot of guys out there and a lot of ways for the Mets to get better for next year.

I'd like to see the Mets make a real effort to engage Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto in talks for long-term contracts. I know both players are looking for substantial contracts, but the Mets are either going to retain those guys past this season or pay for free agent replacements. Top SS prospect Ronny Mauricio is still quite a distance away at age 19, and the highest rated OF the Mets have in their system is Pete Crow-Armstrong, who hasn't even played at any minor league level yet.

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And now on to (sigh) former Mets GM Jared Porter. There has already been a lot written about the guy. Some of it was quite good, like Deesha Thosar's excellent piece on what it's like to be a woman covering baseball, or another fine one by Brittany Ghiroli in The Athletic. Plenty of it was of the scoldy, I'm taking the moral high ground point of view that I honestly can't stand.

The truth is, the acts that got Jared Porter fired were reprehensible and unforgivable. Taking the moral high ground over a man like that doesn't really take much, and solves little beyond allowing a writer to reprimand another person's actions while simultaneously asserting their own moral superiority. I find that sort of thing tiresome. Hey, I may be a jerk, but I didn't send a woman dozens of unsolicited texts culminating with a picture of something better kept in my pants. That's a pretty low bar to clear, indeed.

As someone who was born in 1958, I've witnessed a lot of change in my lifetime. When I grew up in the sixties and seventies, even what would have been considered fairly progressive views by men at the time would seem hopelessly antiquated today. And yet you have a smart, successful guy like Jared Porter — born a full two decades after I was — still exhibiting the same sort of boorish behavior that I was quite familiar with seeing from plenty of my contemporaries in my youth. We may not have had text messaging available to facilitate that behavior, but that didn't matter. Guys who relentlessly pursued women, not taking no for an answer, were looked up to by other men.

I don't know if it's still true today, but back in my school days I think most of the guys were more than a little afraid of women. It seemed like overnight you went from not caring about girls to thinking about them a lot. You might not admit it, but it mattered what they thought about you. In the jock culture I grew up in, most girls were either looked down on and objectified or put up on a pedestal. Either way, they weren't talked about as equals to men or real people, for that matter. In retrospect, I was pretty lucky in many ways not to have been a star athlete, because that kind of thinking wasn't really reinforced in my life by any sense of entitlement.

Mostly I chuckle now when I think of the "lessons" about women and sex that I learned in locker rooms before I had the chance to get any practical, hands on experience. Most of it was nonsense. One that traumatized me for a while was a description of the odor of a woman's private parts from a junior high school teammate. It came as a great relief when I finally came in contact with the real thing to find out that this wasn't true. As much as I laugh remembering that type of nonsense, I don't think I learned a single useful thing about women from my peers.

When there were real girls and then women in my life, I was never tempted to treat them as badly as I witnessed some of those guys do, but I didn't have a clue how to be really in a relationship. I didn't have a single positive model of a male-female relationship in my youth, and my time spent in jock culture didn't provide much of value. It was only after I was divorced and became really good friends with some women at work that I actually got what I had missed out on for so many years — the opportunity to just know women as real people with their own good points and bad points as anyone else. By the time I met Lisa a few years later, I was actually prepared to be in an adult relationship. It's never been perfect, but it's always been great.

I don't how many young guys read this site. Probably not many, I'd guess, but if anyone out there is trying to work their way through the difficult early stages of the whole male-female thing, my advice is to avoid all of the silly stuff, see girls as real people and learn how to like them for who they really are. You'll never be even tempted to treat someone really badly and, while figuring out relationships is never an easy thing, it will definitely be a lot easier. And trust me, you can find really great women who want to be with you without forcing yourself on the ones who don't.

Getting back to Porter, he was so over-the-top awful that it's easy to say, "I'd never do that." But any type of thinking that says it's ok to push yourself on someone in a work environment simply because they were nice to you is pretty dumb. Even if you're not that way yourself, but you're willing to look the other way when a colleague or superior acts in a way that you know is wrong, you're helping to perpetuate an ugliness that just isn't acceptable.

Maybe that woman who is enduring that treatment is your wife or girlfriend or your daughter or your friend someday. Even if she's not, it's still not "okay". When you allow something unfair and ugly to go on, it diminishes all of us. I find it hard to believe that the incident that got Jared Porter fired and likely banned from baseball is a one-off. The fact that he lasted as long as he did is a wake up call for everyone. Bad behavior can't be winked at any longer — not just the obvious stuff that got Porter fired, but the pathetic day-to-day stuff that women like Deesha Thosar and Brittany Ghiroli have had to put up with their entire careers.

I'm going to stop here today. I hope to get back to writing about baseball when next I post here. Please stay safe, be well and take care.


 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

4 comments:

  1. I am extremely glad that you deviated from writing about baseball this time. This piece is far and away the best piece that has been written on this topic of gender harassment and inequality that has been done. My wish is for you to get this out and get as many reads as possible. This is must-read stuff.

    I have been struggling in my mind since the firing to put the issue to words - I no longer need to.

    Kudos and Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks. That means a lot to hear. This wasn't an easy piece to write, and I honestly wasn't sure if I pulled it off

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  3. Great job as I have a wife 2 sisters, a sister-in-law, 3 daughters and 4 G/daughters to constantly think about and your piece was outstanding Thank you for posting it.

    ReplyDelete

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