Yup, Jessica Mendoza was that female voice in the ESPN booth Sunday, for those still wondering

FullSizeRenderFor those who watched Sunday’s Dodgers-Cubs game on ESPN from Dodger Stadium and may not have been aware: Yes, that was Jessica Mendoza in the booth, the former U.S. Olympic gold medal softball player out of Stanford and Camarillo High, current mother of two living in Moorpark, and making some history.

Let’s backtrack for those who are a bit late to the party: ESPN has never put a female analyst in the “Sunday Night Baseball” booth before. They’ve been covering the MLB for 35 years.

The spot became open to sit next to play-by-play man Dan Schulman and former Major League Baseball All-Star John Kruk when Curt Schilling, another ex-MLB star pitcher, was suspended for the week by the network for posting a tweet that they deemed inappropriate. Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Aug. 31-Sept. 6 — How much labor is involved in UCLA, USC college football openers?


Josh Rosen (www.dailybruin.com)

Josh Rosen (www.dailybruin.com)

Details/TV: At the Rose Bowl, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11

Cody Kessler.

Cody Kessler. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images North America)

Details/TV: At the Coliseum, Saturday at 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

college-football-mapFor starters, this L.A.-based opening doubleheader may not set the rest of the college football nation into a frenzy as much as Jim Harbaugh’s khaki-optional debut with Michigan at the home of Pac-12 contender Utah (Thursday, 4 p.m., FS1), Texas’ visit to Notre Dame (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Channel 4) or Wisconsin getting cheesy with Alabama in Arlington, Tex., for the only matchup of ranked teams (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7).
SOSTMFFTPKCYWTR.20130818224619Both USC and UCLA have debuted into the Top 15 of most pre-season polls by having, on paper, formidable branding, a nice color scheme and a roster built to entertain. Yet, do Trojans fans even know the nickname for this Arkansas State team from the Sun Belt Conference that presumably will arrive via swamp buggy in time for the kickoff on a channel that still not everyone has? Do they care? The Red Wolves — there you go — are a 31-point underdog according to early Vegas calculations, and the game has an over/under of 69.5 points. Meaning a 50-19 USC decision is how it should play out. It’s just a matter of how much QB Cody Kessler is given an opportunity to tie his single-game school record with 7 TD passes and take some heat off coach Steve Sarkisian.
cavHorseback1024Earlier in the day, we get to compare the heat index in Pasadena to what kind of warmth Josh Rosen will generate as Jim Mora’s new quarterback. Brady Quinn, the former Notre Dame QB who’ll call this TV game, said he expects Virginia defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta to “pressure the crap” out of Rosen “because that’s been his blueprint – he likes to see how a new quarterback takes a hit and stays in the pocket.”  The visiting ‘Hoos (as they are called), 5-7 a year ago, nearly upset the then-No. 7 Bruins in the 2014 opener. UCLA squeezed out a 28-20 win thanks to its defense. UCLA, ranked No. 7 to start 2014, squeezed out a 28-20 win at Virginia in last year’s opener thanks to the defense.
But, hey, it’s early. That’s about the best thing we can saw at this point about Week 1.


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How Vin Scully told everyone he’s coming back for 2016

Vin Scully responds to the Dodger Stadium crowd after it was announced he will return to broadcast for the team next season, which will be his 67th with the franchise. (Photo: Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.)

Vin Scully responds to the Dodger Stadium crowd after it was announced he will return to broadcast for the team next season, which will be his 67th with the franchise. (Photo: Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.)

After the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw struck out the Cubs’ Miguel Montero to end the top of the second inning Friday night, the SportsNet L.A. telecast did not break to commercial as usual.

It went to the Dodger Stadium message board in left field where Magic Johnson announced to the crowd that “we have big breaking news to share with you.”

KimmelRenderComedian/correspondent Jimmy Kimmel then appeared with a set of large white cue cards that he showed and dropped to the ground. The gist of it:
“Vin will be back!
(For one more year)
(at least)
God bless us everyone.”

The booth camera then showed Vin Scully in his familiar position as he stood and clapped to the loud speaker playing “Dancing in the Street.” Scully waved to the crowd ovation. The last camera shot was of Johnson sitting in the owners box next to the Dodgers dugout.

“Our thanks to Dodgers management for breaking the news, if you want to call it news, that, God willing, we’ll all be back here next year,” Scully said once he was back on the air. “God willing. Anyway bottom of the second inning and the Dodgers ….”

As we wrote last week, rumors of Scully announcing his retirement had circulated only because it had taken longer than in the recent past for him to announce his intention.



Cubs manager Joe Maddon went to the press box before Friday’s game to meet with Scully and get a photo taken with him, then MLB.com tweeted it out with the caption: “Because who ISN’T a Vin Scully fan.”

Maddon told reporters before the game about the Scully visit – “I ascended to another level of humanity,” he said – and then divulged that Scully had told him about the decision.

“He’ll announce it tonight,” Maddon said. “I was happy about what he said.”

Somehow, that got lost in translation.

According to one tweet, the Boston Red Sox radio team of Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien reportedly said that “Joe Madden in L.A. says Vin Scully is set to announce his retirement tonight after 65 years with the Dodgers.”

Dodgers officials, who denied knowing that a Scully announcement was coming, issued a press release during the game that quoted Scully: “I talked it over with my wife, Sandi, and my family and we’ve decided to do it again in 2016. There’s no place like home and Dodger Stadium and we look forward to being a part of it with all of our friends.”

Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten added:  “Vin is a national treasure and the Dodgers couldn’t be happier to have him back at the microphone in 2016. Vin makes every broadcast special and generation after generation of Dodger fans have been blessed to be able to listen to him create his poetic magic since 1950. We look forward to adding many new chapters to that legacy in 2016.”


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It’s Out of the Question: Mixing messages a tougher thing to wash down for USC, Sark

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.facebook.com/sportsbronze

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.facebook.com/sportsbronze

Is Steve Sarkisian the “Next Pete Carroll or the Next Lane Kiffin”?
That was the headline on a BleacherReport.com piece — way, way, way back on Aug. 17.
Before all the fog started rolling in.
The current USC football coach, who could either commandeer this ship on a course that Carroll once navigated at its highest tide or end up looking like Gilligan Kiffin on a three-hour tour, apparently has reached a critical juncture in just his second year at the helm.
It’s somewhat a tipping point that has nothing to do with using Cutty Sark to wash down some physician-prescribed performance enhancing drug.
Sarkisian has said “the moral to the story” concerning a recent public appearance where he did not come off too well is “when you mix meds with alcohol, sometimes you say or do things you regret.”
When you mix messages with your under-aged players – do as I say, not as I do – we remember a line from Hemingway: “About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”
Only Sarkisian really knows how bad things are internally. Externally, in public view, this an imperfect storm converging.

More of this column at this link ...

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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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