Jessica Mendoza became the first female in-game analyst on an ESPN broadcast last night


ESPN is a weird place. On the one hand they employ people who think some of the worst ideas are the best to share with the world. On the other hand, they have allowed no shortage of people to blaze trails and do cool things. Let’s focus less on the bad idea parts of that empire right now and focus on a good part, shall we?

Jessica Mendoza made history last night as she became the first female in-game analyst for an MLB game on ESPN.  She did so as she joined ESPN’s Dave O’Brien and Dallas Braden for ESPN2’s broadcast of the Cardinals-D-backs game. I didn’t see the game — didn’t even realize it was going down until this morning — but if anyone did and has some thoughts about it, I’d love to hear them. The opinion on Twitter that I saw was positive. A moment of “oh, a woman” followed by “she did a good job.”

Which is exactly how it should be in that case, and with later cases involving that minus the “oh a woman” part. Which will happen if ESPN makes this a regular thing and not just a gimmick for a late game on their secondary network. Indeed, the most encouraging thing about this was not her mere appearance on a baseball broadcast but that, for once, a major network approached expanding its diversity in a way other than making a special show “just for women” or some such nonsense. Those sorts of initiatives tend to ghettoize unconventional programming or unconventional staffing. The real way to diversify is to simply put people with unconventional backgrounds or demographic profiles in the slots normally held by the conventional. This goes for women and minorities and for non-conventional approaches to the job such as SABR-oriented broadcasts and the like. Mainstream that stuff, folks. You’ll improve your broadcasts thanks to new voices and approaches AND you’ll make the weirdness of it all disappear more quickly.

Back to Mendoza. She has worked the booth before, of course, covering the College World Series and softball in the past. Her background bonafides are without question as well, as she was a member of the 2004 and 2008 Olympic softball team. She has done several turns on Baseball Tonight as well, so it’s not like someone green was thrown in. She’s qualified and, based on what others tell me, was good.

So, any reason, then, why ESPN insists on putting often-distracted buffoons on their flagship baseball broadcast? Or is that some super complicated subject that only true broadcast professionals can understand?

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.