Jessica Mendoza Out Of "SNB" Booth, Resigns From Mets Position
Jessica Mendoza is "out of ESPN's top booth on 'Sunday Night Baseball' and has resigned her position as a special adviser to the Mets," according to Andrew Marchand of the N.Y. POST. ESPN has "yet to finalize" its "SNB" booth. Alex Rodriguez is "safe" as an analyst, while the net is "considering keeping" Matt Vasgersian at play-by-play or switching to Jon Sciambi or Karl Ravech. The net has "spoken with David Cone about replacing Mendoza." ESPN could "go with a two-man booth with A-Rod or consider an alternative to Cone as a second analyst." Mendoza will "continue as a weekday analyst and on 'SportsCenter' and 'Baseball Tonight.'" She also will "call the World Series as a radio analyst" (N.Y. POST, 2/8). In Boston, Chad Finn wrote Mendoza's new role at ESPN, which "comes with a multiyear contract extension, will include serving as an analyst on assorted baseball broadcasts, including Opening Day coverage, weeknight games, and holiday baseball" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/8).
IN A PICKLE: In DC, Matt Bonesteel noted Mendoza has been with ESPN since '07, when she was "hired as a softball analyst and college football sideline reporter." She joined the net's MLB coverage in '15. Last year, the Mets also hired her as an advisor, a move that "raised questions among sports-media observers and in baseball circles." Her dual roles were "thrust into the spotlight last month when she appeared to take issue with whistleblower Mike Fiers, who publicized" the Astros' sign-stealing operation (WASHINGTON POST, 2/8). In N.Y., Kevin Draper noted when the Mets hired Mendoza, they "touted her as an outside-the-box hire who would bring a fresh perspective to the team." But working for two different employers "soon caused headaches." Mendoza was asked how she could "objectively analyze the Mets, or their division opponents, while she was a Mets employee." Some players were "reluctant to speak with her in her role as an ESPN employee, worried they would be giving insight to the Mets." The Dodgers went so far as to "ban Mendoza from their clubhouse," as well as David Ross, who also was an advisor to the Cubs while working as an ESPN analyst. Appearing on a number of ESPN programs last month, Mendoza "chastised" Fiers for speaking out. She said Fiers "ratted everyone out" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/8).
DIFFERENT SET OF RULES? In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote it was "comical" watching ESPN "give in to MLB protesting Mendoza's role as a Mets 'adviser.'" No one "said boo about this until Mendoza took issue" with Fiers. It gave ESPN the "leverage -- it cited conflict of interest -- needed to exile Mendoza from the 'SNB' booth." Of course, ESPN "never blinked" when Magic Johnson simultaneously worked as an ESPN analyst for the NBA and as Lakers President of Basketball Operations (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/9).
BLURRED LINES: On Long Island, Tim Healey wrote it is "not clear what Mendoza's duties as a special operations adviser included." She "visited spring training one day last year," and on at least one separate occasion "spoke to minor-leaguers." She also was "part of the Mets' front-office contingent at the winter meetings in December." Among those who "still work for a team and a media outlet simultaneously: Al Leiter (Mets, MLB Network) and Pedro Martinez (Red Sox, MLB Network)." MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Thursday said that he is "not all that comfortable with" those arrangements (NEWSDAY, 2/8).