Mets fire GM after he sent explicit texts to female reporter

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NEW YORK — Jared Porter lasted just 38 days as New York Mets general manager, fired for cause Tuesday about nine hours after ESPN reported he sent sexually explicit, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while he was working for the Chicago Cubs.

Sandy Alderson, who returned as Mets president when Steven Cohen bought the team on Nov. 6, said he was stunned by the report. Alderson said baseball clubs may have to rethink the depth of hiring background checks, although he cautioned information of this age and nature might not have been uncovered no matter the level. He said the onus was on teams, not Major League Baseball, to vet employees.

“This is a wakeup call,” Alderson said during a news conference. “It clearly suggests that something like this can be out there in connection with almost anyone. And we have to do our best to make sure that we know about that information.”

ESPN reported Porter sent dozens of unanswered texts to the woman, including a picture of “an erect, naked penis.” ESPN said it obtained a copy of the text history, and some of the messages and photos Porter sent were displayed in the report online.

Major League Baseball will investigate Porter, a person familiar with its decision said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made. Porter, 41, could be subject to discipline by MLB that would prevent him from working in baseball for some length of time or ever, depending on the severity.

Porter did not return a text from the AP seeking comment.

His brief term was less than half that of Carlos Beltran, let go as Mets manager on Jan. 16 last year after 77 days in the fallout for his role in the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Alderson, 73, was the Mets’ general manager from 2010-18 in the latter stage of the team’s ownership by the Wilpon and Katz families, then stepped down due to a cancer diagnosis and the team’s poor play. When he returned under Cohen, he intended to hire a president of baseball operations, then abandoned that in favor of bringing aboard a GM. Porter, previously an assistant GM in Arizona, was hired Dec. 13 and given a four-year contract.

Alderson said the team conducted a background check that included references from multiple organizations and individuals, including people who knew him in college.

“There wasn’t really a dissenting voice,” Alderson said. “So, from my standpoint, I was shocked. And eventually that gives way to disappointment and a little bit of anger.”

Alderson admitted the Mets did not consult with any women when Porter was hired. There are few women working in baseball operations departments, and only in November was Kim Ng hired by Miami from the commissioner’s office as the first woman general manager.

“That’s one of the unfortunate circumstances that exists in the game today. There aren’t women in those positions with whom one can have a conversation and develop information or check references,” said Alderson, who added he thought the situation was “more of an indictment of our society than it is just about the industry.”

Alderson learned about ESPN’s upcoming story from Porter at about 5:30 p.m. Monday, and Alderson said the Mets spoke with Porter to get his side. Alderson received a copy of the report at around 10:15 p.m., about 45 minutes before it was posted online.

Alderson had a brief conversation with Cohen at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, then called Porter to fire him.

“In my initial press conference, I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it,” Cohen tweeted around 8 a.m. “There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

“Those are the kinds of things that this organization, many others find abhorrent and not tolerable in any shape or form,” Alderson said. “So we responded, as I think, quickly as we possibly could, given the fact that we needed to sort out the facts and deliberate on this.”

During a 45-minute news conference, Alderson was asked about a gender discrimination complaint filed last year against Cohen’s company, Point72 Asset Management, with the Commission on Human Rights in Connecticut by Sara Vavra, a former trading group head. The complaint was reported on this month by The New York Times.

Bloomberg reported Shannon Gitlin, who works in Point72’s investor relations department, filed a grievance with that commission last year.

Alderson said that when he returned to the Mets, his vision for the franchise “involved a very significant emphasis on integrity, on ethical behavior, on moral courage” and that “Steve was totally on board with that approach.”

In the future, more in-depth probing may be employed, including FBI-level investigations, Alderson said.

Porter will not be immediately replaced. Alderson will increase his attention on Mets baseball operations and said he is likely to increase the responsibility of Zack Scott, who interviewed for GM and was hired Dec. 23 as senior vice president and assistant general manager.

John Ricco, Alderson’s former assistant and the Mets’ current senior vice president and senior strategy officer, also is part of the front office group advising Alderson along with Tommy Tanous, the vice president of international and amateur scouting; Bryn Alderson, the director of professional scouting and Sandy’s son; Ben Zauzmer, recently hired from the Dodgers for research and development; Joe Lefkowitz, also in Mets R&D; and Ian Levin, the senior director of baseball operations.

ESPN said the woman Porter sent the texts to was a foreign correspondent who had moved to the United States to cover MLB. She met Porter in a Yankee Stadium elevator in June 2016, and she said they spoke briefly about international baseball and exchanged business cards. She told ESPN that was the only time they ever spoke.

After text exchanges that began casually, Porter started complimenting her looks, inviting her to meet him in different cities and asking why she was ignoring him, ESPN said. The woman ignored more than 60 messages from Porter before he sent the most vulgar photo, according to ESPN.

The woman told ESPN she intentionally tried to avoid Porter at a couple of big league ballparks and his texts ultimately contributed to her decision to leave journalism and return to her home country.

Porter texted apologies to the woman in 2016 after she saw the naked picture and wrote to him that his messages were “extremely inappropriate, very offensive, and getting out of line,” ESPN reported.

Alderson said he addressed roughly 400 Mets employees Tuesday about Porter’s firing, on which he said there was “virtually unanimous agreement.”

“Steve has talked about zero tolerance. And I think that for incidents of this type and this magnitude or any incidents that approach this kind of magnitude, that’s the response,” Alderson said.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.