Trigger warning: Below follows an opinion piece based on my life experiences, personal preferences and prejudices. Nothing more. Could cause hyperventilation among progressives, especially feminists. You’ve been warned.
It’s a little like catching an Episcopal bishop saying something sensible. Absolutely counter-intuitive. But it appears ESPN has a coherent baseball babe who actually knows something about the game, respects the game, is articulate, and eschews the dreary frippery that so many baseball babes abuse viewers’ time with.
Her name is Jessica Mendoza, and she’s on the Sunday night baseball broadcast team with Aaron Boone and Dan Shulman. Please don’t misunderstand. I’ll never be a worshipper at the First Church of Androgyny. For all my remaining days baseball for me will remain a man’s game. And, had I been consulted (I wasn’t and won’t be, I know), baseball fields at all levels, as well as broadcast booths, would remain, like those childhood tree-houses, “no girls allowed” zones.
Prosecution can say the above while at the same time admitting the obvious, that many men sportscasters are barely worth listening to (if only Joe Garagiola had been as funny as he thought he was — don’t even get me started on Curt Schilling, a great pitcher but impossible to listen to). And having three or more people of any persuasion in the broadcast booth for one baseball game is ridiculous. I know there’s only one Vin Scully, but baseball is a game that most viewers understand well and need minimal guidance on. It’s not “The McLaughlin Group,” where a roomful of excitable people strain to talk (make that yell) over each other. The game is not heightened for viewers by endless chatter. Baseball is an episodic game with a luxurious pace, and a bit of dead air now and then is not only not fatal, but quite welcome. (See above re: Vin Scully, who understands the uses of silence better than any broadcaster.)
But if the broadcast booth must be coed — for PC, left-social engineering reasons, not for the economic reasons ESPN drones et al. expect the marks to swallow — it is some comfort to know we can find baseball babes capable of saying something intelligent about the game, and not boring us with pointless contributions about what some player gave his girlfriend for her birthday, or how his parents met. Yawn.
Mendoza, an ex-jock (jockette?) herself, women’s fast-pitch softball, not only understands baseball, but her presentation is pleasing. She doesn’t butt in with non-baseball irrelevancies, and she doesn’t chirp. (This last makes her more pleasing to listen to than the Rays’ color guy, former MLB pitcher Brian Anderson — sometimes I just want to smack him, or at least yell at the television set — BRIAN — DAMMIT! — JUST SHUTUP!”)
Mendoza is not the looker some purely decorative baseball babes are. MLB-TV has a couple of on-air heart-breakers. But Kelly Nash is mostly employed to ask pointless questions of inarticulate athletes after games (and to stay clear of the Gatorade sure to be poured over the game’s hero — mega-yawn). I’m not sure who even listens to this stuff. The players’ mothers perhaps. And while Lauren Shehadi has a pretty face and most pleasing contours, at the times I’ve tuned in (prosecution stipulates this is not much, so my sample of her work is small) I’ve not caught her saying anything insightful, informative, or amusing about baseball. If La Shehadi was picked for her looks, it was a sound choice (though those choosing really good looking woman for sexual equality reasons don’t seem to be aware of their hypocrisy). She appears to be a pleasant woman, bright and comely. But savvy baseball fans can appreciate her broadcast art about as well with or without hitting the mute button.
If androgyny is the future of everything — sadly it appears that it will be as my vive la différence generation dies off — a few more Jessica Mendozas will make the dreary and misguided transition just a tad more palatable for savvy baseball fans. I extend to her a limited and grudging welcome to the booth, though I fear ESPN’s next gender hire may not know a hit and run play from a smash and grab.
I’m sure the Tampa Bay Rays, most of whose games I catch most of on the tube in my office after dinner, have a baseball babe. But her contributions are so inconsequential — so perfectly designed for bathroom breaks, trips to the fridge, and usually taking about as long as it requires to take out the garbage — I don’t even know what her name is. OK, she likely doesn’t know who I am either, and if she does may think even less of my contributions. But this doesn’t make my point invalid. (The American Spectator being, after all, an opinion journal. And now you have mine on this vital and timely topic.)