It has kind of sucked to be a Mets fan the past few weeks.
Maybe not as a fan of the on-field team. We traded for Lindor, our bullpen is stacking up, we added some starting pitching depth, and Noah Syndergaard started a (shirtless?) book club. But as a fan of the organization--as a person, specifically a woman, who invests a large part of her life mentally, emotionally, and financially into loudly and proudly supporting a team--it kind of just sucked. Here’s five reasons why:
1. Our (now ex) general manager was exposed as a manipulative creep who used his place in the industry as means to sexually harass a female correspondent. Though Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson had the appropriate response in firing Jared Porter within hours of the story breaking, it was beyond disappointing to hear Sandy admit they had not talked to a single woman in their vetting process of Porter before his hire. It’s also just a blatant reminder of what we already knew: men in positions of power will use that leverage to manipulate their female subordinates, especially in the sports industry where women are seldom even found in positions of power. It’s a realization I had long ago and why I only lasted three semesters into a sports journalism degree before realizing my mental health would not survive it. I’ve been forced to remember how I and countless other women have been intimidated out of academic experiences, job opportunities, and futures. And that is so exhausting.
2. Two weeks later, it was revealed that the “worst kept secret in sports” was Mickey Callaway being known for sexual harassment, primarily targeting female media members. On top of this, it turns out to be a secret the Mets reportedly played an active role in keeping. Mickey may not currently work for the Mets. He may not have been a Steve Cohen hire. Sandy may have no longer been with the team when the organization became aware of his behavior. But this coming out only reinforces the ugly truth that was exposed in the Porter scandal: when deciding on men to hire to positions of power, the Mets do not prioritize ensuring they are not a threat to the women they work with.
It is mind-boggling that in a world where communication is so instant and simple, not a single man in the Mets front office thought to reach out to women working in media who covered either of these men. Especially so when considering there is quite literally no one who would know more about both a man’s true character as well as their ability to perform their job effectively than women paid to report on both of those things. The fact that this can even be an actual oversight only proves that none of the people making important decisions for the Mets regularly fear for their safety, reputation, or ability to comfortably fulfill the duties of their job based on who they work with. In other words, none of the people making important decisions for the Mets are women.
If anything has been made abundantly clear through this entire fiasco, it is that the job of protecting an organization from sexual harassment cannot be done by men alone. If nothing else, a woman in a position of power is essential to the overall success of a professional sports organization in that they will simply remember to ask other women in the industry: “knowing your answers are completely confidential, has this person ever made you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or incapable of performing the duties of your job in any way?” It would also most likely be done before giving a multi-million dollar contract and a position of leverage over women in the organization and industry. Please stop asking, “How could this possibly have been prevented?” Start asking, “How could this possibly have happened?” The answer is clear: it was never even a consideration. And that is so exhausting.
3. Our news feeds are now flooded with men offering their sympathies and support. That’s not a bad thing, by any means. But it’s not what women need most from the men around them. We need you to call out inappropriate behavior when you see it. Not just after the fact once a story has come out and you no longer fear for your job or status. Your acknowledgment of abuse and harassment as it’s happening in real-time eliminates the argument that a woman is “just being overdramatic” or “reading too much into things.” Not only does that immediately call on all of the other men aware of the situation to see and acknowledge what you see, but it empowers the women around you to speak up sooner knowing they will be met with immediate support when they do. Do not just assume because you have a good rapport with your female colleagues that they know you would support them or not see it as a sign of weakness if they spoke up on their own.
If women trusted they would be universally believed and respected by the people around them, we wouldn’t be afraid to speak up. This not only applies to men in the sports industry or workplace but to all men in all scenarios in real life. We never truly know to what level of importance the men around us hold our safety. And that is so exhausting.
4. We can’t stop talking about Trevor Bauer. No one can deny the man’s numbers in a 60-game season against the weakest offensive division in the league. He truthfully would strengthen the starting rotation in some capacity. What you think he’s worth contract-wise is another discussion entirely.
By all means, Trevor Bauer has the right to defend himself when criticized. But on more than one occasion he has enabled his fans to go after people--oftentimes women--who critique him in the same fashion that led to Steve Cohen being cyberbullied off Twitter earlier this week due to threats to his family--which we almost all felt was not acceptable. It is okay to say that while you want to see your starting rotation improved, you don’t want to root for someone who facilitates online harassment (and it’s also okay to maybe point out the irony in the owner of a team who was just run off Twitter for the same reason, potentially giving a person like that his money).
The thought of signing him is conflicting enough, but having to constantly see it being explained to people why some of his behavior is problematic is draining. Perhaps it’s because women are more prone to public scrutiny for sharing their anger--especially in the world of sports--than their male counterparts. But every time a man needs explained to them why people should not have to blindly root for someone who is comfortable with using his position of power to unleash armies of people to attack, threaten, and dox someone with less protection, it’s just a reminder that they’ve never been in that position in some capacity in their own life. And that is so exhausting.
5. On that note, it’s been impossible to stop self-reflecting on how we as a society have gotten to this point. It’s caused me to hold myself and the people I respect accountable in our own passive behavior, and that sucks. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not fun. It’s something I have been actively working on for years now and know I still have plenty of work left to do, as do most of us. But we cannot expect the rest of the world to be accountable if we cannot be accountable ourselves, and most importantly hold the people we respect most accountable as well.
It is okay to think your favorite athlete or friend or family member is a genuinely good person and also call them out on hurtful and problematic behavior. You do not have to “cancel” them (though if they prove to be nothing but hateful and abusive pieces of crap, by all means, cancel away). But we as human beings should strive to surround ourselves with people who challenge us to grow and be better versions of ourselves.
David Wright’s favorite quote is, “If what you did yesterday still seems big today, you haven’t done much today.” Similarly, if today you are the same person who knows and believes the same information you did as yesterday, you haven’t learned much today. An inability to open our minds to the idea that we may have missed something is how toxic behavior begins. A refusal to see the harm in something simply because your conscious intentions were not harmful is how abusive cycles start. Of course, this is not to say that every small-minded person will eventually send unsolicited nudes or cyberbully strangers, but the capacity to believe that it is acceptable behavior starts somewhere and we can all do something to stop that in its tracks.
Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson, as the heads of any organization or business should be, need to remain accountable for the risks they pose to their subordinates and that includes who they hire. It is their job to acknowledge what has now become an organizational pattern and ensure it never happens again. So far, their words have been encouraging and I look forward to seeing the action that follows, sooner rather than later.
As for accountability as a whole, if I am going to call out Bauer’s online behavior, I firmly believe it's also necessary to begin at home. I think it’s important to acknowledge that even The 7 Line Army members have been guilty of similar behavior in the past. There have been instances where people, oftentimes women, have criticized or expressed general dislike for T7L as a group or brand on Twitter and been met with their mentions flooded by angry T7LA members who took it as a personal insult and in turn, decided to throw personal insults (and beyond) back. It always saddens me to know some people view a group and brand I love and respect so much as a toxic and abusive environment. But then again, maybe they wouldn’t if 1) those clowns who went after them had a bit thicker skin in the face of general criticism and never harassed them to begin with or 2) Darren or anyone with a voice for the group/brand had done something to denounce and stop it in its tracks.
I know I am a straight-up pacifist. I hate confrontation and conflict and spent the better part of my life avoiding it. I’m oftentimes afraid to speak up for others because I don’t want to make myself the target of someone’s shitty behavior, which is why I am writing this blog post at all because I feel it’s important to hold myself accountable and make that something I change. While I’ve known Darren a long time and have seen several instances where he has permanently banned people from anything T7L-related due to reports of inappropriate behavior, I think it’s fair to make the push for that kind of zero-tolerance policy to also be enforced towards any T7LA members who use the identity of the group as a means to harass people online.
T7L truly is a forward-thinking, tolerant brand almost entirely staffed by women (short of Darren) and I support so much of what it stands for and the fellow organizations and causes in the community they choose to amplify. Just as I feel it’s on Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson to change the culture and reputation of the Mets hiring processes, I believe it’s on the brand and anyone who takes pride in representing T7L to make sure it is an all-around welcoming and safe culture for anyone to be a part of. Since I've now become more involved, I’m using this time to hold myself accountable for that moving forward and invite anyone who has concerns about that matter to always feel welcome to talk to me about it.
It’s sad and upsetting that, for all of the reasons I’ve already stated, I’ve been afraid to share such a simple opinion publicly for so long. I’m afraid I’ll go from being perceived as “cool and chill” to that “annoying David Wright fan girl who takes everything too seriously” just for saying I don’t want to be associated with adults who cyberbully for fun. And that is so exhausting.
Just to summarize: I’m exhausted, y’all.
I’m tired of living in a world dominated by men who manipulate and harass women. I'm tired of men who question why women don’t speak up and then shut them down when they do. I'm tired of online harassment being seen as fair game for having an opinion. I'm tired of people not being able to criticize those they respect without fear of making an enemy.
In the season I am supposed to be the most excited I’ve ever been for baseball in my entire life, I am just so exhausted by baseball. But I’m going to do everything in my power to try and change that, and I invite all of you, especially the men, to do the same.