It’s always been curious how ESPN allows “Sunday Night Baseball’’ broadcasters Alex Rodriguez (special adviser, Yankees) and Jessica Mendoza (baseball operations adviser, Mets) to moonlight for specific teams. The double duty inevitably brings into question whether their obvious conflicts of interest interfere with their ability to be forthcoming in their broadcasting roles.
That became especially clear Thursday when Mendoza went on the network’s “Golic and Wingo Show’’ and lamented that former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers had publicly outed the team for its sign-stealing scheme.
“To go public, it didn’t sit well with me,’’ said Mendoza. “It made me sad for the sport that that’s how all this got found out. This wasn’t something that MLB naturally investigated or that even other teams complained about it because they naturally heard about and then investigations happen. It came from within. It was a player that was a part of it . . . It’s something you don’t do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know. But to go public with it and call them out, it’s hard to swallow.’’
Mendoza was wrong in a couple of ways. It was a terrible look for her, an employee of a media company that practices actual journalism, to be opposed to information coming out. She should not require a reminder that keeping information in the shadows is how the steroid era damaged an entire generation of the sport. And she was clearly unaware that colleague Jeff Passan had reported in 2018 about league-wide skepticism about the Astros’ methods. The league did not investigate after his reporting. It did only after Fiers spoke up.
ESPN released a statement from Mendoza later Thursday in an attempt to clarify her comments. “I believe it was critical that the news was made public,’’ she said. “I simply disagree with the manner in which it was done.’’
Perhaps, but it cannot be ignored that Fiers’s revelation had a direct impact on the team for which Mendoza works. The Mets’ new manager, Carlos Beltran was prominent in the Astros’ sign stealing as a player; he ended up mutually parting ways with the Mets later Thursday. It was a bad day for the Mets. And a worse one for one of their employees, who probably should decide which side of the fence she wants to be on.