Last night, ESPN made cable TV history, with its Monday Night Baseball broadcast featuring a female lead analyst for the first time ever. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but the fact that it has never happened before, until now, shows what a big deal it was.
The analyst role on ESPN’s sports broadcasts is usually filled by an ex-player of the sport that’s being covered, or at the very least a former coach in that sport. There have been some female play-by-play announcers, most notably Doris Burke covering the NBA, but for the most part it’s a boys’ club, with women analysts only covering women’s sports, and not the higher profile men’s broadcasts.
No longer. Jessica Mendoza, an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight program, acted as the analyst on ESPN’s game between the Diamondbacks and Cardinals, replacing Aaron Boone, the usual analyst, who is currently working games at the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Early reviews are very positive, outside of the usual internet trolls and negative commenters.
Jessica Mendoza does have on-field experience—she was a member of the women’s Olympic Softball teams for the United States in Athens and Beijing, winning gold and silver medals respectively. She is tough talking and can hang with the guys, but brings a different perspective, having never been a Major League Baseball player.
More from Awful Announcing:
With Boone not available this week, ESPN needed a replacement, and Mendoza was as fine of an in-house choice as any. There’s nothing wrong with giving hard-working people at the network a shot at a more expanded role, and Mendoza has the credentials both on and off the field to deliver a strong performance in the booth.
Here’s hoping this was not an anomaly, and that Jessica is the first of many women to bring new blood to the announcing booth for ESPN, and other cable TV sports networks.