February 8, 2021

Awareness And Accountability ("You See A Lot Of Actions In MLB That Would Never Be Tolerated, Except That People Are Forced To Tolerate Them Every Day.")

I do not subscribe to Baseball Prospectus. However, I do subscribe to Defector (the fairly new site at which many former Deadspin writers have found a home after their previous space was destroyed by corporate shitheads).

I'm glad I do, because Defector posted this bit of writing from BP. Ginny Searle writes with eloquence and a precise, measured tone I will call "dispassionately furious".

Time to Untune that String
Ginny Searle, Baseball Prospectus, February 2, 2021

When something happens with consistency and regularity, it becomes a pattern. When that pattern is exerted relentlessly on a particular group, it becomes an expectation. This is not inherently a bad thing. It's a rough sketch of how trust is formed, the basis of the rapport that reporters are expected to build with players, coaches, and executives. The ability to learn the rules of that interplay is one of the most critical if invisible tasks in which a reporter engages. . . .

There's a critical corollary to this system (and let's be clear, it is a system), however: Both parties are supposed to be able to walk away. It's the recourse you are meant to have when someone is being disrespectful, unkind, or otherwise breaking trust. It has immemorially been and remains a fundamental flaw in human society, though, that relationships are so often inequitable. . . . 

It's not that those who hold and exert power imbalances for their own ends don't know what they're doing. Quite the opposite, rather—these people are typically drawing on and reaffirming the playbook of abuse, aware that their power insulates them from consequences. This is, basically, an outline of the formation and maintenance of a system of oppression. . . . When that responsibility is eschewed, the person whose dignity is being violated is far too often presented with a choice between important resources to one's livelihood or personhood and a damaging, potentially deleterious relationship. Aware of this, the person breaking trust and boundaries often chooses to offer incentives to maintain the relationship. . . .

The existence of a network for women to support each other and ward one another away from potential abuse is unsurprising in the context of an overarching system that makes no sincere provisions for its prevention. . . . The heartening nature of that mutual support is contrasted with the dismaying reality of why it is so deeply necessary. . . .

There is a society-long impulse toward maintaining the status quo . . . One factor enabling actors such as Callaway to act in this fashion unabated for a decade-plus is their assumption that those they victimize will observe their degree, priority, and place—because they are often in positions where they see few other options. That same insularity enables those who hired or oversaw people such as Callaway to dodge responsibility for what happened in their tenure as outside of their sphere. The system doesn't work for those of lesser priority because it's not intended to . . . Fashioning accountability is a clear threat to the system MLB has in place—and it should be, because the present system is already quite literally deracinating, displacing; recall the reporter harassed by Jared Porter left not only the industry but the country.


Mets president Sandy Alderson, in three weeks connected to two former employees engaging in pervasive harassment, said the only thing he would ever be expected to say: He was unaware . . . The question of how he was unaware when so many were goes unanswered along with that of it not being his basic responsibility to be aware of such matters. They won't be answered, can't, because to do so would require either an admittance of cognizance on Alderson's part or an admittance of an endemic failure of such in an avenue that is clearly within the purview of his job. . . .

One main reason behavior such as Callaway's or Porter's is eventually able to come to light is the persistence of messages, especially for reporters, in the digital age. . . . It seems as improbable to think [Callaway] was not aware his actions would eventually come to light as to think he was unaware of their rank unacceptability. He didn't care because he didn't have to. What it comes down to is that someone has to care, or be made to. . . .

So long as a system in which self-evident abuse is tolerated again and again by MLB's constituent organizations persists, as long as accountability is left to the ether, it's difficult to see progress for women within the sport as anything but chipping away at an iceberg. Even if it's moving, you'll never notice it within your lifetime.

Regarding Mets GM Sandy Alderson:

[He] revealed the nationality of the woman Porter had harassed—a detail that had purposely been withheld from ESPN's story—and then claimed total ignorance about Porter's behavior. Alderson mentioned that the Mets had only received glowing recommendations for Porter before he was hired. When pressed, Alderson revealed that no women were spoken to when the Mets were looking into Porter's background.

Alderson's tenure at the Mets includes hiring a general manager and a manager who are accused of sexually harassing media members. Alderson's awareness of at least one incident involving Callaway, and his professed lack of knowledge about Porter's past behavior, paint a picture of a man who at best cannot be relied on to responsibly hire people into positions of considerable power.

[Accepting the inevitable statements that Alderson and the Mets could not possibly have known about all this inappropriate behavior] require[s] one to ignore the fact that Alderson, with all his knowledge and experience and extensive connections throughout the baseball world, couldn't manage to find out about Callaway and Porter what probably dozens of women within the game already knew. If the president of a baseball team can't discover one of "the worst-kept secret in sports" while vetting and then later investigating his manager, either because he didn't know where or didn't bother to look, then he probably should not be the president of a baseball team.

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