With a month before spring training begins and two-and-a-half before the season commences, Jessica Mendoza’s rise could seem meteoric. A year ago, she was pushing for more opportunities to do in-game analysis for ESPN. A week ago, she was named to the broadcast team on the network’s flagship baseball property, “Sunday Night Baseball,” on which she will join veteran play-by-play man Dan Shulman and former postseason hero Aaron Boone, who played 12 years in the majors. She is 35, a wife, a mother of two, one of the best hitters in collegiate softball history – and now, whether she wants the label or not, something of a pioneer.
“I realize that anything out of my mouth, people are going to listen a little more,” Mendoza said. “Instead of just, ‘Oh there’s a game on, and it’s background noise,’ it’s, ‘There’s a female talking; I’m really going to analyze what she has to say, every word she says.’
Her colleagues are universal in their assessment. Last season, after a few years of asking for more on her plate as an analyst and working on the wrap-up show “Baseball Tonight,” she moved into the analyst’s chair for the College World Series. By late August, she quietly became the first woman to analyze a nationally televised major league game, working a Monday night matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks. The following Sunday, she filled in for the suspended Curt Schilling in the week’s premier slot.
“You could tell she was a little bit nervous early,” Shulman said.
“I didn’t sleep the night before,” Mendoza said. “I couldn’t eat – which is incredibly unusual for me.”
“She’s sharp in any way you can be sharp,” Shulman said. “Once she got more comfortable and she got a few more reps, you could see her personality really come out, and you can see how hard she works.”
If it continues, it will be pushed at least in part by Mendoza’s craving more information. This offseason, she went to pitching school to learn more about grips and breaks. She attended the winter meetings, went to a scouts’ dinner, asked and absorbed. She enters the season more confident in her ability, but aware of the reality: She’s being watched.
“I know people are going to hear my voice and know it’s different,” Mendoza said. “Even though it’s 2016 and we want to believe it’s not that way, it is. Each game last year carried a ton of pressure that I would put on myself.
“But what’s helped is once the game began, it was just baseball, and not a female broadcasting baseball. I was like, ‘I can do this.’ I just honed in on it, and all the other stuff went away.”
To read the full story visit the Washington Post where this article was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.