mendoza makes espn’s baseball broadcast watchable.

mendoza makes espn’s baseball broadcast watchable.

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  • July 29, 2017

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.

Also pub­lished on Medium.