A woman broke one of the longstanding gender barriers in sports during last night’s American League Wild Card Game, in which the Houston Astros eliminated the New York Yankees, 3-0.
The game, carried by ESPN, included color commentary by Jessica Mendoza, 34, a veteran reporter who has been with ESPN since 2007 and is a two-time Olympic medalist in softball. The Washington Post reports that Mendoza became the first woman to provide color commentary during a major league playoff telecast.
“Women have made inroads in every aspect of sports journalism over the past 40 years, becoming reporters, columnists, studio hosts and sideline reporters,” The Post notes. “But they have remained almost invisible in one sub-realm: broadcast commentary. Opinions and analysis in sports broadcasting have remained the nearly exclusive preserve of men.”
Mendoza broke another barrier when she did analysis back in August on a Cardinals-Diamondbacks game, becoming the first woman to do analysis on a national broadcast, the report notes. But Tuesday’s single-game elimination showdown was “her biggest stage yet,” the Post adds.
“Some of the reaction to Mendoza on social media was, perhaps predictably, cruel,” the story reports. “Along with the usual raw misogyny, several men questioned whether anyone who hadn’t played the game could analyze it (apparently they’ve never heard of legendary baseball announcers Vin Scully, Jack Buck or Red Barber). One tweeter bared what may be the male sports fan’s psyche: ‘Why do I turn on baseball and hear a woman’s voice in the broadcast booth?!? We watch sports to get away from women.’”
But Mendoza also received an outpouring of support. “Among her 200 postgame texts were congratulatory messages from ESPN colleague Mike Tirico and CNN sports anchor Rachel Nichols,” The Post reports.
She also received good reviews. The report quotes Yahoo baseball blogger Mike Oz writing: “Jessica Mendoza is good at her job. … She’s insightful and interesting and offers a different perspective. If you don’t want to hear different voices and different opinions while watching sports, then why not just watch black-and-white VHS tapes from the good ol’ days?”