The first time she interviewed a player, Knight said, he asked her repeatedly for the name of her hotel. Another time, she said, a Spanish-speaking player made sexually suggestive comments about her to a teammate, not knowing that she understood the language.
Every woman in the business has similar stories and grapples with questions most male colleagues never have to consider. All reporters must weigh the motivations of a source, but the question is especially fraught when the source might end up making sexual overtures. It often forces women to choose between career obligations and personal comfort or safety.
“I have 100 percent not gone to events or games or press conferences that would have helped my career, or helped a story I was working on, because I didn’t want to run into someone who was being creepy with me — and I know I’m not alone in that regard,” Knight said. “You wonder how many people have left the business because they didn’t want to deal with it, especially if they’re young or just starting out. They might have an incident and think, ‘Yep, this is not for me.’”
After the Astros won the 2019 American League Championship Series, their assistant general manager, Brandon Taubman, heckled female reporters in the clubhouse, gloating about the team’s acquisition of pitcher Roberto Osuna, who was serving a suspension for domestic violence when the Astros traded for him. The team initially supported Taubman and criticized the reporter’s account — which was verified by multiple witnesses — before firing him three days later.
As an assistant, Taubman was mainly in the background for the Astros. As general manager, Porter was positioned to be a public face of the Mets organization, a daily presence for updates and explanations to the news media. Most reporters strive to build a solid working relationship with the general manager, and Porter’s history would have made that impossible.
Keeping Porter would have been a tacit endorsement of the often hostile work environment for women in baseball. Alderson said he understood that behavior like Porter’s is all too common.
“I think it’s an indictment of the industry, but more broadly it’s an indictment of our society,” Alderson said. “I think this happens in lots of places, and it’s tolerated in too many places.”