Jessica Mendoza's new gig with Mets further proof that unbiased sports broadcasting is thing of past

Alex Reimer
March 06, 2019 - 2:35 pm

Nearly every single sports commentator or analyst is forced to combat some form of conflicted interest, given the prevalence of league- and team-owned networks and partnership agreements. Here in Boston, for example, the Red Sox own 70 percent of NESN and NBC Sports Boston broadcasts Celtics games. On top of that, Red Sox principal owner John Henry also doubles as publisher of the Boston Globe, and both of our sports talk radio stations boast lucrative agreements with all four sports teams. 

But the pervasiveness of these arrangements doesn’t mean they’re any less troubling. That’s why Jessica Mendoza’s new gig with the Mets shouldn’t be celebrated as some sort of triumphant moment, such as her addition to the “Sunday Night Baseball” booth. Mendoza is now on the Mets’ payroll and will assist the club with player evaluation and other areas of roster construction. It is now impossible for her to be unbiased on ESPN’s signature baseball telecast. That is not good.

In an interview with the New York Post, Mendoza said she doesn’t expect her new arrangement to affect her relationships with players and coaches from other teams. That sounds far-fetched. Baseball Men are so paranoid, they cover their mouths with their gloves when even carrying on the most innocuous in-game banter. It’s hard to believe they’ll be willing to share unfettered information with somebody who’s sitting in on a rival’s front office meetings.

Mendoza is not the only member of the Sunday night booth with dual allegiances. Alex Rodriguez consults the Yankees, meaning he’s on their payroll as well. On TBS, analysts David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez boast professional ties to the Red Sox, with the former turning into an all-out cheerleader during the postseason.

Nobody expects baseball announcers to be Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite. Almost every high-profile analyst was also a great player, meaning they’re synonymous with teams and franchises. But taking money directly from clubs is a step too far. The Mets will be on “Sunday Night Baseball” twice this season, and during those games, it will be impossible to determine whether Mendoza is speaking candidly or holding information back. If she is privy to inside information about the Mets, she may be inclined to keep it under wraps, since it’s doubtful the team wants its inner-workings broadcast to the masses.

ESPN blessed the agreement, so Mendoza’s bosses apparently see no problem with this. It’s another sign that objectivity, or even feigned objectivity, has been completely lost. 

Related: TNT's 'Players Only' broadcasts are dumpster fires

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