Jessica Mendoza at the 2008 Women's Sports Foundation Awards.

There are always plenty of people willing to lob criticism at ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza, much of which is for her gender. A Cardinals’ fansite even ran a poll blasting female announcers during Monday’s home run derby (which Mendoza was part of the call for), with the most favorable option being “Eh,” and although they were promptly Ratio’d, those anti-female announcer sentiments are certainly shared elsewhere (as any sort of glance at Mendoza’s mentions illustrates). So why does Mendoza do a job where she has to face that kind of vitriol regularly? Britni De La Cretaz spent a day following Mendoza before a broadcast for a Teen Vogue profile that was published Monday, and Mendoza told De La Cretaz she broadcasts so she can break barriers for others:

The 36-year-old seems both awed that this is her life and this is the job she gets paid to do, and resolute that she was meant to be the woman to break barriers for all the young girls and women who will come after her. “I really believe that’s why I need to be in this position, because… if I were to talk to a young girl right now that’s like, ‘You’re doing this to hopefully create an opportunity for me to be in this position,’ I would tell her, ‘I’m doing everything I can. I am going to fight for you, I’m going to work my butt off for you.’ I want these girls to know that I’m never going to take this for granted,” she says.

Being a mentor for girls and women in sports is an issue Mendoza is passionate about. She’s been heavily involved in the Women’s Sports Foundation since she was 20 years old. “The network [of women] that was created and the influence it had on me, literally is why I’m doing what I’m doing now,” she says. She wants to pay that forward, and help have an influence on young women at the time in their lives when they’re most vulnerable to outside pressures. She cites the profound effect that sports had on her confidence and identity and says she wants to help girls choose the camaraderie and physical fitness of sports over drugs or other negative choices.

That’s an interesting stance, and it helps explain why she’d stick with a job that leads to so much negativity being lobbed her way. There’s plenty of positive praise for Mendoza out there as well, and ESPN seems quite happy with the job she’s doing so far, so it certainly does seem plausible that she (alongside other female ESPN analysts and commentators, such as Doris Burke and Beth Mowins) will be blazing a trail for others to follow. And that seems like good motivation to keep going. Her work with the Women’s Sports Foundation (she’s seen above presenting at their 2008 gala in New York City) undoubtedly helps, too.

There are a lot of other notable details in there, on the prep work that Mendoza does, on her feelings on advanced stats (learn them and sometimes express them, but not in a jargony way), and on her approach to talking to players (usually in one-on-ones out on the field rather than in media scrums in the clubhouse; that’s not an opportunity everyone gets, but if she has it, that seems like an excellent way to do it). There’s also an interesting anecdote about her clothes, and how she had to adjust to the “traditionally feminine clothing” desired for this job. Overall, the piece illustrates how Mendoza’s fitting in and improving as a broadcaster, and it’s a good look behind the scenes at what goes into her days. It also demonstrates the motivation she has to persevere with this.

[Teen Vogue]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

  • I don’t have cable so I had never heard her till last night (as the Home Run Derby was streamed to MLB TV subscribers). She was awful. So was everyone else from ESPN. I hope that she is better than this on Sundays, but if not, there is room for fair criticism that has nothing to do with her gender.

  • MrBeepo

    I liked her before she joined Sunday Night Baseball where, for some reason, she turned into a clown laughing at everything Boone says. They need to blow up that booth and get 2 (not 3) new voices in there.

  • PAI

    People don’t dislike her because she’s a woman, they dislike her because she’s awful at her job. Some misogynists use it as an excuse to bash all woman because of how bad Mendoza is. However, ripping someone for their analysis in a HR derby is incredibly lazy.

  • DrewShervin

    She was absolutely horrible last night on the Home Run Derby. The viewers were trying to enjoy the Home Runs and she was asking one stupid question after another when the participants were sitting at the table. Aaron Judge and Stanton were trying to watch their teammates hit and she wouldn’t leave them alone. There were massive Home Runs being hit and she wouldn’t let the show breathe. She was also talking over everyone. Just entirely clueless how to work on a broadcast.

  • Carol Caprio

    Jessica Mendoza is an embarrassment to women, not a role model !
    Absolutely terrible at your job, but “staying the course” to blaze the path for others, is illogical … What’s the message…. I’m awful at what I do, but will persevere and take a paycheck because of my gender … great message for young girls !!!
    It’s not all her fault … The Uber liberal ESPN decided they needed a minority female in the booth as an expert analyst … since no woman would qualify, as none played professional baseball, they reasoned softball was close enough!
    Don’t you just love when Jessica criticizes pitchers or base stealers techniques.. how the hell would she know??? Not many “cutters” or 4 seam fastballs in softball !!
    If ESPN is intent on having a token minority female in the booth, why not make her a play by play announcer .. not a freakin’ unqualified analyst !!

  • rosetta_stoned

    Never – in the history of broadcasting – has there been a more appropriate website to describe Jessica Mendoza than Awful Announcing dot com.

    She absolutely ruined the Home Run Derby last night.

    • Adam Domo

      Ravich was must worst are you kidding me

  • Septic Bladder

    There is no doubt she comes under additional scrutiny because of her gender, but I have made this suggestion before.
    If you think that criticism is unfair, turn the sound off and turn on the closed captioning for next Sunday’s game.
    If you only read her words, it becomes clear she adds little – or no value – as an “analyst”.

  • Caz

    I have no problem with her work on Sunday Night Baseball. But she had no business doing the HRD last night. And it has nothing to do with her being a woman. Just way too many people all jockeying for the clever or insightful thing to say about hitting a darn baseball. I thought Karl Ravech actually did a nice job. But as with most ESPN broadcasts, it was way over produced.

  • george202

    I don’t care whether she is a man or a woman. She needs to learn to SHUT UP! So does Aaron Boone. The two of them make watching baseball on ESPN nearly impossible. Since I am not a baseball gimmick fan, I did not watch the Home Run Derby last night, but I can just imagine. How about finding a woman who can truly be a role model for girls. As i a role model that all women are not just mouthy broads who never can shut up.

  • MrBull

    I thought Chris Berman was no longer doing the Home Run Derby?…Then I realized that shrieking, annoying, clueless voice belonged to Jessica Mendoza!….
    As bad as Berman was many times doing the Derby, Mendoza top him in her very first telecast…interrupting…screaming like a teenager seeing a pop star…being a ‘homer’ on how a home run should count despite hitting the roof…
    What an embarrassment she was as not only as a baseball commentator, but, as a woman commentator….
    What Doris Burke and Beth Mowins are, Mendoza is not – professional in their manner of doing their broadcasting assignment ….
    Espn should wake up and replace her as she is not very good and simply will not improve….she is a fish out of water and the baseball viewer is paying the price….and soon espn will pay it when viewership goes down on Sunday Night Baseball….

  • Stacey O’Donnell

    I am a female and a huge sports fan, in particular baseball, and I think she’s terrible! She gets facts wrong all the time. People criticizing her because of gender is bull. She is horrible at her job and really needs a mentor. The ladies at NESN, past and present are the best in the business, maybe she should ask Jenny Dell or Hazel for pointers.

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