Monday, October 25

Mickey Callaway’s accusations show that baseball is still willing to protect predators.

I’m not sure how to put it more clearly than this: stop hiring predatory raptors. Stop defending predators.

Athletic published on Monday a report on Mickey Callaway – Former Mets manager and current Angels pitching coach – and his alleged history of harassing women in sports media, during his layovers in Cleveland, New York and Los Angeles.

Five women spoke to The Athletic and detailed their encounters and interactions with Callaway. Seven others said they had been warned about Callaway’s past behaviors.

“It was the worst kept secret in sports,” one of the women told Athletic.

Think about that for a minute.

That is exactly correct.

It was the worst kept secret in the industry because those in the industry determined that it was acceptable for it to remain a secret. That is unforgivable.

And this report came immediately after ESPN’s report that Jared Porter – who had been hired as general manager of the Mets in December 2020 – harassed a foreign journalist with more than 60 unanswered text messages over a period of several weeks in 2016 when he was the Cubs’ director of professional scouting, culminating with a photo of a naked penis. After she posted that photo, the woman, a foreign correspondent who moved to the United States for work, finally responded, telling her that her messages were extremely offensive.

Shortly after the ESPN report was released, Porter was fired. Callaway has been suspended by the Angels, was fired as the Mets manager in October 2019 for team performance reasons, and hired as the Angels’ pitching coach a few weeks later, pending an investigation.

If you have read the reports in The Athletic, a pretty clear picture has been painted. Text messages were posted. Other messages were seen by reporters and the legal team. The evidence of Callaway’s reprehensible behavior is there. He used his position of power to harass these women in sports media, without even trying to cover his tracks. An example: when he was the manager of the Mets, he promised a journalist that if he got drunk with him, he would give him inside information about the club. Callaway’s behavior is a textbook example of why women may hesitate to come forward.

And yet he still denies any wrongdoing. Still.

Is there a more damning charge against the industry than that? Baseball people knew who Callaway was and how he acted, and his silence was all the approval he needed. Why would it stop? Why would he even think he was wrong?

The silence has to end.

Let’s be clear on this point too: the responsibility for stopping these predators does not lie solely, or even primarily, with the women who are being harassed. In almost every case, with both Porter and Callaway and the countless examples above, the behavior was reported, either to a company colleague or to the team / company the stalker worked for. And too often, nothing has happened.

That’s why Porter was still hired to the Mets general manager position years after harassing the reporter in Chicago. This is why Callaway was hired to the Mets administrative position after his behavior in Cleveland, and why he was hired to the Angels pitching coach position after his increasingly rude behavior in New York, and why why that behavior continued with his move to California to work. for the Angels.

And yes, it hasn’t been overlooked that those two were signed by the Mets, specifically Sandy Alderson in two different stints with the club. It is an accusation about Alderson’s hiring practices, no doubt that these two were “vetted” and these behaviors were not found. What good is even a well-intentioned research process that doesn’t ask the right questions or ask the right people the questions? If you scoop up your kitty litter with a shopping bag that has giant holes in the bottom, the poop will keep getting everywhere, no matter what your motivation to clean up was.

“At this point, it’s (Callaway’s) reputation.” one of the women told Athletic. “If they are investigating him, even a hint of his personal life should reveal this.”

And the Mets are not alone here. This is an industry problem. Remember how the Astros aggressively defended Brandon Taubman in 2019, after he verbally harassed a group of female reporters covering the ALCS championship celebration, without provocation? The Houston main office issued a press release attacking the reporter who wrote about the incident, Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, calling her article “misleading and completely irresponsible” even though it turned out that Taubman was the one who was lying. These two former Mets should finally represent the end of the line for men who behave like this, who use their positions of power to harass and intimidate those who only seek to do their jobs.

For too long, the actions and behaviors of men like Callaway and Porter have been swept under the rug, criminals slapped on the wrist or given stern talk.

The sad truth is that the only way to make sure that doesn’t happen seems to go public.

But that’s crazy, right? How have we, as a society and as a baseball industry, got to this point? How have these nasty, these predators been allowed to not only survive but to thrive? How are they the ones who have been protected and pampered, their actions and behaviors not only excused, but somehow justified? This has to stop. And it is also ridiculous that the women who were harassed by Porter and Callaway have to remain anonymous, although the damning evidence is anything but anonymous, for the real fear of retaliation, not just from the Callaways and Porters in baseball, but of those who have allowed them to prosper. Perhaps, hopefully, one day they will be praised for the brave souls that they are.

But the good? The solution should be pretty simple: stop protecting idiots. This is a goal that we can all work towards together. Those of us in the sports media cannot remain silent. Those who work in baseball offices cannot look the other way. Accusations must be taken seriously.

And yes, discernment of intention can sometimes be tricky. Individual text messages can be misinterpreted. The benefit of the doubt cannot go away. But Porter’s 60 unanswered text messages? Callaway’s pattern of behavior that was the “worst kept secret” in baseball? There are no shades of gray with cases like these.

The evidence against Porter and Callaway is there. They weren’t even trying to hide their behavior.

Actions must have consequences.

Men in baseball, that’s what we are talking about specifically here, although it also applies out of this world, they have to know that if they behave like this, they will almost certainly lose their job because they will no longer be protected by a madman. code of silence. And, as with most things in life, the goal cannot just be to punish offenders for what they have done; the goal has to be to prevent actions. Before they follow any creepy superiority instincts that drive them to send these messages and say these things in the first place, there must be a thought that comes to mind to stop them.

And that brings up another point. The effort to prevent these actions cannot be just a threat of punishment, although that is a good first step. Those in leadership positions, with franchises, etc., have to create workplace cultures that provide a good work environment for everyone, based on respect for others. It is not a speech or seminar once a year, but a way of life within the organization.

That is the long-term goal. But the first step? Stop protecting the disgusting.

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