Mendoza Makes ESPN’s Baseball Broadcasts Watchable.

Doug Glanville on Jessica Mendoza in today’s NYTimes:

I root for Mendoza’s success because her journey inspires me, and many others, to think optimistically about what we can overcome despite the stereotypes attributed to our demographic boxes.

As a viewer, I value someone smart, insightful, and analytical above some dude who played for awhile. Obviously, they’re not mutually exclusive, and in the purest form of the two- or three-person broadcast team, there’s enough of both insight/analysis and experience that they complement each other. But too often that balance is off, and too few baseball talking heads are smart enough to inform anyone but the most casual fan.

Mendoza has raised the level of ESPN’s broadcast so as to (a) make it watchable (since she ups the quality of the banter, generally); and (b) frequently add nuance to my understanding of the game.

That latter part isn’t because she has Glanville’s experience with Wrigley’s outfield — because she doesn’t — but because she shows up better-prepared than anyone. In that way, it seems her experience as a journalist is far more important than her time winning medals for USA Softball. She’s able to tell us what scouts are saying about a pitcher, or how a player’s been trying to work counts better, or how a manager and GM came to make roster decisions. She respects her audience enough to have taken the time to do her homework, so she has something of value to share with us. (To Glanville’s point, she’s very Scully-like in this way.)

I don’t think that, as a barrier-breaking woman, she’s trying to be smarter or better-informed than her colleagues in the booth. Rather, I think she just is those things because that’s who she is, and I’m glad to read that at least one of those colleagues doesn’t feel threatened or insecure about it.


Originally published at yikes.