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Mets hire Jessica Mendoza

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The New York Mets have announced that they have hired ESPN broadcaster Jessica Mendoza for a position in their front office. The Mets say that Mendoza will “provide insight to Brodie Van Wagenen and the entire Baseball Operations Department. Her focus will be player evaluation, roster construction, technological advancement and health and performance.” She will continue her work on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

An interesting move. One that, I presume, will cause a lot of blowback because, for whatever reason (i.e. base sexism), men get bent out of shape whenever Mendoza’s name is mentioned. To those people I say “get over it, babies.” Mendoza is qualified for the job. If you doubt that, I’d happily take you on a tour of baseball org charts to show you similarly-situated employees with equal or, in many cases, thinner resumes than hers.

I think there are at least some legitimate questions about conflict of interest, though. I’m not sure how someone can both work for a team in a substantive capacity and be an analyst who expected to be critical of other teams or, in some cases, the Mets themselves. If she sees Jake Arrieta tipping his pitches during a Phillies-Nats series, does she say so on the air or does she hold it back and tell Mets hitters about it for the upcoming series? The latter, right? Why would she help the competition?

Of course, she wouldn’t be the first broadcaster in this situation. Her booth-mate, Alex Rodriguez works for the Yankees. David Ross works for the Cubs. There have been others in the past. While most local broadcasters do not technically work for the team whose games they cover, in all practical ways they really kinda do. I’ve been cranky about that for decades, but I suppose that horse left the barn a long time ago.

ESPN and other networks seem totally cool viewing broadcasters through an entertainment lens as opposed to a journalistic lens and that has been the case for a while. I think that makes for a compromised broadcast and is a disservice to fans, but no one listens to me about this stuff.

Evan Gattis says he is ‘done playing’ baseball

Evan Gattis
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In a recent appearance on the 755 Is Real Podcast, hosted by The Athletic’s David O’Brien and former Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty, catcher Evan Gattis confirmed he is “done playing” baseball. Gattis said back in October that he didn’t have any desire to continue playing the game, so this news comes as no surprise.

Gattis, 33, hit .226/.284/.452 with 25 home runs and 78 RBI for the Astros in 2018. The Astros did not extend him a qualifying offer, then $17.9 million. Though reporting on specific offers is scant, it is hard to imagine he received zero offers, or would have received zero offers if he were still interested in playing.

Gattis has one of the more interesting stories out there. He was a well-regarded college baseball prospect, but he battled anxiety and substance abuse. He checked into rehab and, temporarily, abandoned his baseball-related pursuits. Gattis eventually resumed playing college baseball but suffered an injury, prompting him to drop out of college. He went on to take on some not-so-glamorous jobs, including working in a pizza shop, as a parking valet, a ski-lift operator, and a janitor. Gattis battled more mental health issues, suffering from insomnia and depression, resulting in suicidal ideation. He checked into an inpatient psychiatric ward for several days. Afterwards, Gattis roamed around the west coast, going from Colorado to New Mexico to California to Wyoming.

In 2010, Gattis returned to baseball, playing for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He performed rather well, resulting in his being drafted by the Braves in the 23rd round that year. He worked his way through the minors quickly, debuting in the majors in 2013. The rest, as they say, is history. Gattis retires with a career .248/.300/.476 batting line along with 139 home runs, 410 RBI, and 299 runs scored over 2,662 trips to the plate.

The story of Gattis is an important one because mental health in general was not taken seriously, especially among men. It still isn’t, to a large degree, but it’s better now than it was 10 years ago. Due to social taboos and gender norms, men are much less likely to seek help for mental health issues. That Gattis — a burly avatar of testosterone — was willing to be vulnerable about his struggles with his mental health was important.