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.