Friday, October 9, 2015

Thoughts on a Woman in the Broadcast Booth

OK, I understand this is dangerous territory here, but I gotta comment on Jessica Mendoza doing color commentary for ESPN in the AL Wild Card Game.  Maybe hearing a woman's voice in a setting where you are not used to it is not so strange to Giants fans.  After all, we've been listening to Sherry Davis and then Renel Brooks-Moon do the PA duties at Candlestick and then Pac Bell/AT&T Parks and it sounds normal to us now.  Here are the things I liked about Jessica Mendoza's commentary on the game:

1.  I liked the tone of her voice.  Definitely sounded like a female voice, but not too high pitched.  She had some power in the voice without having to strain it or hit high pitches.

2.  She seemed knowledgeable about what she was commenting on.  The two points she made that I recall off the top of my head were 1.  Explaining why a batter spit on a slider from Masahiro Tanaka.  It might have seemed obvious to those of us who learn at the feet of Kruk and Kuip on a daily basis, but there are millions of people who don't start following baseball until the postseason starts.  2.  Solid explanation of why it was advantageous for George Springer to put his back foot on the back line of the batter's box, showing the plane of  his swing matching the plane of the ball as it met the bat.

3.  She was enthusiastic about the game.  That's a lot more than you can say for her booth-mate, John Kruk, or the dry, unemotional PBP from Dan Shulman, or whatever his name is.  She got really excited about describing Even Gattis as old school and even added in a subtle sense of humor about it.  Maybe not as funny as Kruk and Kuip would have been, but also more animated and not in a forced sense.

Some people objected to the idea of a former softball player being an expert commentator on baseball, but since when do you have to be a former baseball player to understand and describe the game?  I did not hear anyone objecting to the use of Tom Verducci as an expert commentator.  Eno Sarris does a great job of breaking down mechanics of both hitting and pitching over at Fangraphs and I don't think he ever played professional baseball.

I think it is only a matter of time until we get a woman PBP announcer in the booth either on radio, TV or both, so we better get used to the idea.  If they sound as good as Jessica did, they can start tomorrow as far as I'm concerned.  Between Gamer Babes and people I talk to at work who are Angels and Dodgers fans, it sure seems to me that interest in baseball among women is at an all time high and that is good for the game.   I know I have two daughters who would kill for a job like that!


  1. Yeah, Mendoza has been a highlight for the ESPN crew for the past couple of months. Does a solid job. Damning with faint praise perhaps, but much better than the disinterested/cynical schlock that was Kruk and Shilling.

  2. And also better IMO than Cal or AJ among the playoff crew so far. HoF-er or All-time-great jack-ass doesn't mean you've got an interesting personality on-air.

  3. I think the vast majority of people don't actually care as long as the color announcer knows their stuff. Now if she starts doing fluff stuff, I'll care. But as long as she's talking relevant (to the game/clubs involved) baseball it's a big, fat 'so what?' Besides, the best 'baseball' (if you include softball) player in my extended is a woman as she was on the Women's Gold Medal winning team a few Olympics ago, whereas the best man petered out in AAA (PCL). And I never made it past HS ball, so who am I to be sexist?

  4. That "team" of Schulman, Kruk is so blah. Hershiser is blah as well. I can't stand listening to Buster Olney and his "insights" (Although his Dodger fanhood must be waking from a bad nights sleep tonight!). Joe Buck always sounds bored until he sneaks in a little cross promotion about the Cowboys. Give her a shot! Let interesting people rise on up. We are extremely, extremely spoiled to have Jon Miller and Kuip/Kruk.

    1. Hey, was that a cheap shot at Dave Flemming!? Better watch that Shank, I like that Flemming kid.

      Giants fans have it good 10 ways to Sunday, no question. Best darn run organization in the sport, IMHO.

  5. I have a feeling KNBR's Kate Scott would do well at play-by-play. Good tonal qualities; has worked hard on her delivery; decent sense of humor. Perhaps if Dave Fleming answers the siren call of the networks they'll give her a try. (Though Doug Greenwald has also paid his dues.)