Sunday night’s game between the Cubs and Dodgers would have been historic even had Jake Arrieta not thrown a no-hitter and regardless of the circumstances that resulted in Jessica Mendoza being on the air for ESPN alongside Dan Shulman and John Kruk on the network’s signature baseball broadcast.
Simply being in that position, making history as the first woman on that high profile of a production, Mendoza encapsulated the American dream, at a time when the leading candidate for a major political party’s presidential nomination is parading around in a silly hat that says “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” and proposing the erection of a wall to keep out foreigners.
America already is great, which is the reason that people want to come here in the first place. People come to America to find a better life for themselves and better opportunities for future generations of their families.
Mendoza is a second-generation Mexican-American. She has a master’s degree from Stanford, has been president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and wound up making history in a male-dominated profession. No matter what you think of the chain of events that resulted in her being in that booth at Dodger Stadium on Sunday night, the fact she was there should be an inspiration to anyone who loves this country and what it represents.
And for those who say “stick to sports,” well, sports often turns out to be a forum for American culture, going from Jackie Robinson to the Women’s World Cup this summer. So, there absolutely is room in sports to talk both about Schilling’s social media presence and Mendoza popping through a glass ceiling.
As it turned out, Mendoza wasn’t just there. She was excellent. For that matter, so were Shulman and Kruk in calling the no-hitter. It was a broadcast for ESPN to be proud of, all around. If the best advice you can get is “be yourself,” everyone lived up to it. Shulman showed off his play-by-play chops, Kruk thrived making points about the ins and outs of the game without fear of mockery for his sometimes clumsy way of getting to those points and Mendoza expertly broke down inside-the-game elements like pitch sequencing and the science of hitting.
Here she is talking about Dexter Fowler’s single up the middle in the eighth inning: “Fowler just has a good approach. That’s three different pitchers that he’s faced, and all he’s doing is trying to simplify and let this ball get to his back leg. This is something so hard to do as a hitter, because your impatience wants you to get it out in front, but you watch how he lets this ball get back and because of that he’s able to hit it right up the middle. All of his hits tonight coming middle to opposite field.”
Kruk follows up with this: “I think that’s where Dexter Fowler gets in trouble. He gets home run happy, and he tries to pull balls, get out in front of balls and he doesn’t stay back like that. His game to me, even though he has 14 home runs, is get on, create havoc with your legs, hit the ball to all fields.”
This is how a two-analyst setup should work, with the voices complementing each other. In this case, Mendoza has the more cerebral part of the breakdown, while Kruk talks about the mindset required to properly execute those elements of the game. Simply putting a hitter and a pitcher together to “capture both sides of the game” does not get the job done. The voices need to build off of each other, and that is what happened here.
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Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football
“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years.
Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.
“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.
“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck.
Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys
The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.
Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.
But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.
Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:
Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.
Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”
Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.
The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.
Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.
“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”
Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”
He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.
Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.