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Friday, January 17, 2020

Column: Jessica Mendoza just gave ESPN a new reason to dump her when she criticized the whistleblowe

Baseball has been rocked by a cheating scandal, and you know what ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza said “doesn’t sit well with” her and makes her “sad for the sport”?

That former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic about the team’s elaborate system for stealing opposing catchers’ signs and alerting batters when a breaking ball was on the way.

Talk about a Mendoza line no one in baseball should go near. That’s crazy.

The sport’s integrity was compromised, yet Thursday on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo,” Mendoza said what made her queasy was that Fiers discussed it on the record with reporters Ken Rosenthal (no relation) and Evan Drellich.

Some commentary on a sordid addition to an already-sordid story.

 

QLE Posted: January 17, 2020 at 12:00 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jessica mendoza, mike fiers, whistleblowers

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   1. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: January 17, 2020 at 12:45 AM (#5916817)
ESPN, by having Mendoza make these comments on not one, not two, but THREE of its shows, just created a PR nightmare for itself.
   2. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 17, 2020 at 11:21 AM (#5916882)
Mendoza is showing that she really is an ex-jock, and has the jock's mindset and dead set belief that you don't rat out your peers. We saw this during the steroids era, when there were shockingly few people willing to talk specifics on the record. So I get where she's coming from.

It's the classic example of a mindset that takes some positive values (trust, loyalty, esprit de corps) and takes them to a place that's poisonous. One doesn't have to work very hard to come up with instances that have much worse real world ramifications than a willingness to tolerate cheating in a baseball game.
   3. Dock Ellis Posted: January 17, 2020 at 11:26 AM (#5916885)
Why would ESPN dump her? This kind of sht-slinging content is exactly what they want.
   4. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: January 17, 2020 at 11:44 AM (#5916896)
“New” reason is an interesting description. What were the previous reasons?
   5. . Posted: January 17, 2020 at 12:06 PM (#5916908)
It's the classic example of a mindset that takes some positive values (trust, loyalty, esprit de corps) and takes them to a place that's poisonous. One doesn't have to work very hard to come up with instances that have much worse real world ramifications than a willingness to tolerate cheating in a baseball game.


Big-time American sports, net-net, are a corrupting influence.
   6. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 17, 2020 at 12:29 PM (#5916918)
Why would ESPN dump her? This kind of sht-slinging content is exactly what they want.


Right - though, depending on whether one cares about "ethics in sports reporting" I suppose - she shouldn't be employed by a purported "news" organization covering sports while simultaneously consulting/employed by a team.

This, of course, would be one of the cases in point for why such a thing is just crazy...
   7. villageidiom Posted: January 17, 2020 at 01:29 PM (#5916950)
“New” reason is an interesting description. What were the previous reasons?
She was employed simultaneously in a quasi-journalistic capacity as a baseball commentator as well as by a specific team as a front-office advisor. In theory the latter would bring into question her impartiality as the former.

In practice I think she's done well to steer clear of such conflicts in what she talked about, but we'll never know what she chose not to talk about. That aside, whenever ESPN uses someone in the broadcast booth who also works for a specific team in the same capacity I'm not sure the matter of impartiality is materially different than what people theorize in Mendoza's case.
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 17, 2020 at 01:40 PM (#5916957)
Why would ESPN dump her? This kind of sht-slinging content is exactly what they want.
It’s her Mets employment that is problematic - she’s in violation of Manfred’s decree that teams not discuss or criticize his disciplinary decision, and she’s going after a whistleblower, while once again demonstrating the conflict of interest caused by her simultaneous ESPN employment.
   9. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: January 17, 2020 at 01:48 PM (#5916961)
She was employed simultaneously in a quasi-journalistic capacity as a baseball commentator as well as by a specific team as a front-office advisor. In theory the latter would bring into question her impartiality as the former.

In practice I think she's done well to steer clear of such conflicts in what she talked about, but we'll never know what she chose not to talk about. That aside, whenever ESPN uses someone in the broadcast booth who also works for a specific team in the same capacity I'm not sure the matter of impartiality is materially different than what people theorize in Mendoza's case.

The Dodgers barred her from their clubhouse because of her work with the Mets and she complained about it. Andrew Friedman had this to say afterwards:

“For me, if someone is really involved in the front-office operation of another team, we don’t think it’s right to give them unfettered access to our players,” Friedman said. “I think it’s pretty cut and dried. It’s hard for me to see the other side of it, personally. If that’s not the case, then I think there will be an arms race in hiring announcers to work for our front office to go get information on players.”
   10. PreservedFish Posted: January 17, 2020 at 02:38 PM (#5916979)
Tough to imagine what Mendoza really does for the Mets. How many days a year does she work? Does she have projects, responsibilities? Or do they just fly her in every once in a while to take part in a roundtable of some sort?
   11. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 17, 2020 at 02:47 PM (#5916984)
The defense I read -- and I don't buy it/agree with it/not gonna bother finding it -- was the idea nobody bars or complains about local networks who obviously are in bed with teams and blur the line.... i.e., the local contract TV/radio carriers who also have reporters, who inevitably have the "shows" with manager/Front Office sorts, and whose reporters (including potentially the analysts that might do the games or handle the weekly show) are treated like everyone else.

Like I said - I don't buy it... and I don't think she should be working for both in any role/combination. Pick an either. Quit the Either for the Or as she and the either see fit. But not both.
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 17, 2020 at 03:01 PM (#5916987)
The defense I read -- and I don't buy it/agree with it/not gonna bother finding it -- was the idea nobody bars or complains about local networks who obviously are in bed with teams and blur the line....
Not really comparable. A rival front-office employee is presumed, rightly or wrongly, to have more expertise that’s helpful in identifying useful information, and more interest & ability to pass it along.
   13. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 17, 2020 at 03:39 PM (#5917007)
Not really comparable. A rival front-office employee is presumed, rightly or wrongly, to have more expertise that’s helpful in identifying useful information, and more interest & ability to pass it along.


I'd agree... the counter (maybe I should look it up; I thought it was here but I might be misremembering) was that friendly analyst guy who is tight with the GM because he has to be gets locker room access and notices that player X and Y seem to argue a lot. Said analyst watercooler talks with team's GM about clubhouse tensions and subsequently gives GM an inside angle on a trade, etc.

Anyway, like I said... I think she definitely quit one job or the other. I might even entertain the notion that EITHER MLB or ESPN (probably the former) perhaps ought to be pressured to draw the line.
   14. puck Posted: January 18, 2020 at 12:33 PM (#5917167)
There's so many threads on the sign stealing scandal, but this article by Bob Nightengale in USA Today has interesting stuff:

Former MLB players, coaches have mixed feeling toward Mike Fiers, the whistleblower on the Astros cheating scandal.

LaTroy Hawkins:

“Man, if you want to discuss that with your teammates saying they may be doing something, here’s how we negate that, that’s fine. But to talk to the media about it. It just didn’t feel right to me. I’m different. I grew up in the inner city. You don’t go around snitching on people.


Ron Washington:

Stealing signs is incredibly hard.


Wait, that's not it:

Several others expressed the same sentiment as Hawkins, wondering how Fiers will be treated by opposing players, or even in his own Athletics clubhouse.

“There’s nothing nice I can say about that,’’ said Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington. “When you can’t say nothing nice, you don’t say anything.’’
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:26 PM (#5917183)
Apparently before this latest flap, ESPN was mulling over changes to Sunday Night Baseball, possibly moving Mendoza to other assignments, and bringing in David Cone, or someone else. Cone has been pretty good on YES.
   16. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:36 PM (#5917184)
I can almost come around on the idea that Fiers should've tried to find an authority to privately disclose information. But that's never really what anyone is saying. Instead, it seems like a lot of players wanted Fiers to participate in some sort of bizarre cheating v counter-cheating arms race.
   17. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:55 PM (#5917186)
I really am not a big fan of this idea that whistleblowers are rats, snitches get stitches, Keep your mouth shut and don’t divulge any knowledge you have of malfeasance so other people don’t get in trouble, etc....

I suppose it’s valid to question the manner and method by which a whistleblower blows the whistle and the motives of people who subsequently cooperate and corroborate bad actions, but that feels like a distraction designed to minimize the bad actions and prime mover bad actors.

   18. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:56 PM (#5917187)
There’s always been an omertà* around MLB. Gaylord Perry played for about 40 different teams and with 100 different catchers but it took forever for him to get caught. We saw the same thing with the PED stuff. You can’t tell me guys didn’t switch teams and rat out former teammates. I think in part because every team had a guy loading up the ball or juicing and I suspect the same is true of this though perhaps not to the same degree. That’s not to say it’s right or wrong, just noting that it’s not surprising.

* that’s the right word I think?
   19. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 18, 2020 at 02:11 PM (#5917189)
Of course... the world is filled with concentric circles of interests and conflicts...

Outside of a criminal courtroom, where something like prison time is on the line (and the administration of justice does require one to consider motivations and methods more skeptically), I guess that when it comes to something that would just someone a job and/or provide professional embarrassment?

Either the actions and the scheme was bad or it wasn’t. Either the accused did or didn’t.

The whistleblowers and rats are an epilogue....
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 18, 2020 at 03:50 PM (#5917198)


Like I said - I don't buy it... and I don't think she should be working for both in any role/combination. Pick an either. Quit the Either for the Or as she and the either see fit. But not both.


Agreed. Isn't A-Rod also a consultant for the Yankees? I'm not sure if ESPN is still employing Raul Ibanez, but I believe he consults the Dodgers.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: January 18, 2020 at 03:56 PM (#5917201)
There’s always been an omertà* around MLB. Gaylord Perry played for about 40 different teams and with 100 different catchers but it took forever for him to get caught.


That's also because he liked to make people think he was greasing it up a hell of a lot more than he actually was.

   22. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 18, 2020 at 04:03 PM (#5917203)
Pitcher Mike Clevinger of the Indians isn't abiding by the jock's code of omerta:
"That's another part that pisses me off. That lineup's talented enough that I think if they just had the due diligence to do the regular baseball shit -- pick one, I'm tipping, whatever -- they'd do damage."

"You have buddies that if they knew what was coming would be perennial All-Stars in the big leagues, dude."

"But, to each their own. I'm not going to sit here and just be quiet about someone blatantly taking millions of dollars and food off my table, let alone other people's tables."

"I don't think any of those motherfuckers should be able to look us in the eye. They should feel ashamed."

"This is worse than steroids."
   23. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 18, 2020 at 04:16 PM (#5917206)
From Clevenger's Twitter feed:

This is where throwing hard has its MF perks BB so either police it @MLB or I’ll get back to my training

They shouldn’t feel comfortable looking at any of us in the eye let alone on the field and any other MLB player feel different, they can get it too
   24. dejarouehg Posted: January 18, 2020 at 04:47 PM (#5917207)
Good for Clevenger. Would have no problem seeing him do to Altuve and Bregman what Pedro did to Jeter and Soriano.

Glad to see that LaTroy Hawkins still abides by the rules of the hood, because that's really something to aspire to.

Funny how that inner-city mentality works.... Let's not tell the police anything but expect them to come into these often unsafe and uncooperative neighborhoods to help.

This disparaging of whistleblowers is really a disgraceful trait.

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