Weekly media notes version 08.27.15 — Jessica Mendoza raises the ‘Mendoza Line’ to a Sunday Night Baseball appearance

What’s coming up for this weekend:

The plan is a sit-down Q-and-A with Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winning USC quarterback who has rebooted as both a Fox Sports college football studio analyst and will be part of the Pac-12 Network’s “Inside Pac-12 Football Show.”

What’s worthy of serving up here and now:

Photo from ESPN and @jessmendoza

Photo from ESPN and @jessmendoza

If we can use the phrase properly and without making ourselves look too out of touch, Jessica Mendoza has just shot her baseball TV credibility well above the Mendoza Line.
She probably just re-drew it.
After becoming the first female to be included as a booth analyst on an ESPN MLB game, sitting in with Dave O’Brien and Dallas Braden on ESPN2 coverage of the St. Louis-Arizona contest last Monday from Phoenix, ESPN will announce soon that Mendoza will also be on the upcoming “Sunday Night Baseball” coverage of the Dodgers’ home game against the Chicago Cubs with a 5 p.m. first pitch.
Sitting in the booth with Dan Schulman and John Kruk, she essentially replaces the still-suspended Curt Schilling.
Yet she has definitely earned the opportunity.
Mendoza, who had already been told she would rejoin O’Brien and Braden again on a Labor Day broadcast of the Orioles-Yankees contest from Yankee Stadium (Sept. 7, 10 a.m., ESPN), said response to what she did last Monday is still taking her by surprise.
“I didn’t realize how big the reaction was going to be,” Mendoza said this morning. “I approached it really as just prepping for another event, but the posts have been crazy — in a great way.”
Mendoza, a past president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, heard from fellow members Billie Jean King, Lindsay Davenport, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Julie Foudy with supportive social media posts that kind of blew her away.
Alyssa Milano even did a post on her site and on Twitter,” Mendoza said of the actress and baseball fan. “I feel like for all women, regardless of it happening or not in sports, we kind of go through this thing that hasn’t been done together.”
The fact that ESPN may not have publicized it much before the game but used social media more during the game to get viewers on board may have also helped Mendoza ease into the situation.
Some viewers weren’t aware of the historical context until a Baseball Tonight tweet came out:

Besides, hadn’t this been done already before?
“My husband (Adam) told me heading into it: ‘This is a big deal,’ but I thought it was really more the norm,” said Mendoza. “I wanted it to feel more normal. I didn’t want to be nervous.”
With Aaron Boone dispatched to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series, it opened up a chair for Mendoza, who might have already been assigned the sideline/dugout reporter role, to sit between play-by-play man O’Brien and analyst (and former MLB pitcher) Braden.
ESPN had not ever tried doing that in its 35 years of covering the MLB.
Mendoza’s qualifications aren’t the issue — the Moorpark resident, two-time Camarillo High Female Athlete of the Year and two-time Olympic softball gold medalist out of Stanford has already been on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” show and was in the booth during last year’s ESPN College World Series coverage.
Her insights Monday actually helped demonstrate not just how far she has come as an information gather as a sideline reporter/analyst who has an open mike and can contribute to a live conversation during an MLB game, but also how much the bat-and-ball sports are be more related than unrelated.
An instance came up in the seventh inning when the Diamondbacks’ Ender Inciarte fouled a pitch off his ankle and tried to walk it off in pain. Mendoza observed:
“I’d like to say I’ve never done this … at least he got part of the cleat. The worst is when you get the ankle bone or shin bone. And you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. You walk it off and to be honest, you try to keep it as warm as possible because when those start to swell that’s when you’re done … I still have knots, up my leg, ankle and shin from doing just that. And they don’t go away. … After you drill a ball on your shin, you get a little gun shy about pitches low and in. If I were (Cardinals reliever Jonathan) Broxton I’d come right back to that spot. It’s still in (Inciarte’s) head as much as it’s throbbing. And it kind of affects your approach.”

Even before last Monday night’s appearance, Allure.com, a beauty trend magazine and website, had posted a story with the headline: “ESPN Analyst Jessica Mendoza is Your Awesome New Role Model”, allowing Mendoza a chance to answer questions as she anticipated the moment happening.
Constructive feedback from her ESPN bosses has been helpful in the days since that game, she said. Any criticism that she may have read or heard is also taken for what it is. Like this Twitter post:

When we tweeted out acknowledgement of Mendoza’s night on Monday, telling her to keep taking her cuts, we soon saw this response by former D’backs play-by-play man Daron Sutton:

Craig Calcaterra responded more to how ESPN broke this barrier on a NBC Sports’ HardballTalk post:
“The most encouraging thing about this was not her mere appearance on a baseball broadcast but that, for once, a major network approached expanding its diversity in a way other than making a special show ‘just for women’ or some such nonsense. Those sorts of initiatives tend to ghettoize unconventional programming or unconventional staffing. The real way to diversify is to simply put people with unconventional backgrounds or demographic profiles in the slots normally held by the conventional. … You’ll improve your broadcasts thanks to new voices and approaches AND you’ll make the weirdness of it all disappear more quickly.”

== So back to that Mendoza Line reference: We hear MLB broadcasters to this day use it, without context, and have to figure than more than half the viewers don’t even know what it means.
Look it up: During the 1980s, the batting average of former defensive specialist shortstop Mario Mendoza would hover around the .200 mark. Back then, the Sunday newspaper would print all the MLB players averages, and some admitted they didn’t want to be below the “Mendoza Line” in that list. Some aren’t even positive which Mendoza is being referenced in this case, or whether Tommy Lasorda helped perpetuate the phrase.
“I would hear it all that time and no one educated me on what it really meant, so I finally asked one time,” Jessica Mendoza, the mother of two who’ll turn 35 in November, admitted when asked about the line. “People still say it. They understand it’s a thing you say in baseball. But I’m sure most don’t know what it really means.”
In this case, maybe it’s easier to say that Jessica Mendoza just raised the bar.
And continues to raise it for those who’ll come after her.

== After Schilling was getting displaced from the Little League World Series assignment this week for a bizarre tweet, and having it now extend through the week, should it be a surprise that he does have his supporters for what he wrote?.

== Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton are also in town this weekend for the Saturday and Sunday ESPN Radio national broadcasts from Dodger Stadium against the Cubs.

== ESPN did officially announce today that Josina Anderson will become an “NFL Insider,”  the first female to have the role along with Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter and others. She’ll also be involved in “Sunday NFL Countdown.”

== Fox Sports Southeast announced that Stephanie Ready is ready to become a full-time female NBA analyst, working on games covering the Charlotte Hornets. In a three-person booth, she will work with play-by-play man (and former Dodgers broadcaster) Eric Collins as well as former NBA player Dell Curry.
Ready, a reporter on TNT and ESPN basketball telecasts, was an assistant coach from 2001-03 for the NBA Development League’s Greenville Groove. She played college basketball at Coppin State.
Curry said Ready “knows the game very well. She knows the players. She knows strategy, plays. As an ex-player, whether you’re male or female, if you’re an ex-player, you should know your craft and she definitely does.”

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For the sake of an argument, Corey Seager could be the Dodgers’ 50th different shortstop since 2000

Perhaps Dodgers SS No. 50: Corey Seager.

Perhaps Dodgers SS No. 50: Corey Seager.

One of the things that Dodgers broadcasters like to point out whenever the team faces the Cincinnati Reds is a statistical fact that Charley Steiner decided to again mention on tonight’s telecast:
Between 1970 to 2004, the Cincinnati Reds basically used two shortstops — Dave Concepcion and Barry Larkin.
But since 2005, the Reds have used a whopping 31 different shortstops.
To drive that point home on the SportsNet LA coverage, a graphic came up on the screen — but then something new was revealed. Maybe those 31 shortstops were a lot for the Reds, but the Dodgers had plenty more — 39 of ’em, more than anyone else in baseball.
Why not make a bigger deal out of that Dodger oddity as the keys to the position may someday be handed over to Corey Seager as early as 2016?
For the sake of looking over the laundry list of history, here are those 39 different players who have played SS for the Dodgers since 2005 (with the number of new names in parenthesis): Continue reading

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How about giving Earl Lloyd a stamp of approval with the U.S. Post Office?

0294Earl Lloyd, the first black player in the NBA who played 65 years ago and died last February at the age of 86, deserves, if anything, a stamp of approval for a life well lived.
There’s been a campaign supported by Lloyd’s son, Kevin, as well as the family of Wilt Chamberlain to petition the U.S. Post Office and have Lloyd commemorated just as Chamberlain was in 2014.
472404-S0Lloyd’s debut for the Washington Capitals of the NBA in 1950 came just before Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper also broke down the race barrier in the pro basketball game.
Upon his passing, the National Basketball Retired Players Association said Lloyd “forever changed the game of basketball” on that Halloween night, and they called him “a leader, a pioneer, a soldier” — he missed the 1951-52 season while in the Army.
“Modest and willing to share his story with anyone when asked, Earl offered a vivid window into our nation’s segregated past and personified change in this country,” the NBRPA said. “A truly historic figure in American history has passed.”
Lloyd was on the 1955 NBA champion Syracuse Nationals, joining teammate Jim Tucker as the first black players to play on a championship team.
earl-lloyd-300The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit. He was a ninth-round draft pick out of West Virginia State.
Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 as a contributor, he also coached the Detroit Pistons to a 22-55 record in 1971-72 and the first nine games in the 1972-73 season.
Information about how Kevin Lloyd has been leading the campaign has been reported by  the Philadelphia Tribune.
See the petition below or send letters of recommendation to: Earl Francis Loyd, Postal Stamp Committee, 15 Pineridge Court, Crossville, TN 38558-6532.
Chamberlain’s sister, Barbara Lewis, has also been collecting supportive letters. She can be contacted at:
Barbara O. Lewis, 1312 Sun Copper Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89117-7022

Letters can also be sent to Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, D.C. 20260-3501.

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Play It Forward Aug. 24-30: The prep time for the start of prep football ’15 is done

Bishop Amat receiver Tyler Vaughns.

Bishop Amat receiver Tyler Vaughns.

Details/TV: At Santa Ana Stadium, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
Details/TV: Friday at 7 p.m., FSW PrepZone.com:
Where do we start? Right here, at Week 0 on the schedule, with a top-loaded lineup for the CIF Southern Section and City Section to begin measuring themselves. A nice starting point is La Puente’s Bishop Amat, ranked No. 1 in the state by MaxPreps.com, with standout receivers Tyler Vaughns (headed to USC) and Trevon Sidney. On a night when coach Bill Redell has a field named after him at Oaks Christian, here’s a sighting of Lions star senior receiver Michael Pittman, also committed to USC. Oaks Christian’s defense has to go up against Notre Dame, showcasing running back Leo Lambert III, who piled up 1,320 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.
Fox Sports/Prime Ticket has taken the opportunity to highlight the Bishop Amat-Mater Dei contest on the main TV feed. In addition to Notre Dame-Oaks Christian on PrepZone.com, there are Canyon of Canyon Country at Calabasas, Lompoc at Arroyo Grande and Trabuco Hills at Rancho Cucamonga. For Calabasas, it’s a chance to see Keyshawn Johnson Jr. as well as five-star junior Darnay Holmes pull in passes from junior Tristan Gebbia. Canyon has a promising junior QB of its own in Miles Fallin – also an All-State sophomore selection with Gebbia last year.
More key matchups around Southern California in the first Friday include state-ranked teams St. John Bosco (at La Mirada), Centennial of Corona (hosting East of Salt Lake City) and Serra (at Lakewood), along with Crespi at Sylmar, Alemany hosting Garfield, Westlake at Oxnard, Granada Hills at Venice and Taft at Canoga Park.
Via CalPreps.com, here’s a list of all the CIF Southern Section games this weekend and the schedule for CIF City Section games.


The Dodgers take a five-game road losing streak to Cincinnati (Tuesday-Thursday) before coming home to face the Chicago Cubs (Friday-Sunday) … The 69th Little League World Series champ will be crowned Sunday (at Williamsport, Pa., noon, Channel 7) … American Pharoah takes his next race at the 146th Travers Stakes (Saturday, 1 p.m., Channel 4) … The Sparks are attempting to set a WNBA record with more than 22,000 for its game against San Antonio (Sunday at 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet) … More to find at this link.

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More Chris Marlowe Q-and-A: It’s not all an act, growing up in the TV business

Chris Marlowe with Chris McGee before last Sunday's Manhattan Beach Open.

Chris Marlowe with Chris McGee before last Sunday’s Manhattan Beach Open.

In addition to the Q-and-A posted today, we have more with Chris Marlowe on his life as an actor, his first job in TV and more…

Chris Marlowe proudly comes from an acting family – his father, Hugh, a longtime dramatic lead; his mother K.T. Stevens, with a shining resume, and his grandfather, Sam Wood, a prolific director nominated for three Academy Awards.
Before Marlowe came to a point in his post-playing days when his career took off in the sportscasting field, his first taste of what TV broadcast work could be like came when ABC hired him to call the 1978 NCAA indoor volleyball championship.
He knew the two teams – UCLA and Pepperdine.
But he wasn’t sure he knew much about the play-by-play man, other than …
Marlowe explains:

“I graduated from San Diego State (1974) and was on the national team that was trying to get to the ’76 Olympics, but we didn’t qualify. I came back to the U.S. and was working at a restaurant, still working out at UCLA, and I knew their coach, Al Scates, who had been doing color on NCAA championship matches when the Bruins weren’t involved. This time, his team mated it, so they asked him if he knew anyone who could do the TV jobt. He recommended me – ‘I know a former national team player with a big mouth and a loud voice,’ he told them. I interviewed for the job and got it.
“I find out the play-by-play man on this assignment is Bruce Jenner.
462643720“He just had his success in the Olympics in the decathlon, he’s all over the Wheaties box, and ABC had put him on track and field coverage. But this was the first time they wanted him to branch out as an announcer. This was his first play by play event outside his sport. So that’s always a challenge.
“And I’m doing my first event ever, which was also a challenge. Suffice to say, we were a little nerve-jangled when we prepared to tape our on-camera intro at 6:45 when the match was going to start at 7:30 p.m.
“We had this huge crowd assembled around us – maybe people now don’t remember how big a celebrity Bruce Jenner was at that time, but there had to be about 500 people huddled around us as we’re trying to tape this opening. It started bad and went south quickly. They wanted him to do a 30-second open by himself, talk about these two teams that know each other very well, just 30 minutes apart … but he just had difficulty putting the words together. We’re doing take after take.
“Now it’s 7:20 and the officials are looking at us. And because he kept flubbing the intro, Bruce wasn’t even at the point yet where he got to the line where he was introducing me as the analyst. He finally gets a good take, and I knew I couldn’t screw it up once he threw it to me.
“I’m wearing that yellow Wide World of Sports blazer and I think I did pretty good. So we got through it and then rushed to do the match.”

Q: Did you ever run into Jenner again on any TV assignments?

PAY-Linda-Thompson-and-Bruce-JennerA: I don’t believe I ever saw him again. Later on, thought, I did date one of his ex-wifes for a short time – Linda Thompson, who also had been married to Elvis Presley. We met at a party, we hit it off talking for hours, I asked her out, I drove up to her gated enclave in my Mustang, we went to dinner. And I realized I was way out of her league. What an interesting experience. Continue reading

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