The Tale of Two Announcers

Yesterday, the immortal Vin Scully announced he will most likely retire after next season. Tonight, ESPN had Jessica Mendoza fill-in for the suspended Curt Schilling. It’s fitting they were both working the same game. It was Vin Scully’s 20th no-hitter and Hesdica Mendoza’s first. 

It’s funny for a blog, but there is really nothing new or interesting I can add here about Vin Scully, except for maybe this: He started his career when the sport of baseball was all white males; he was there for the integration of baseball with Jackie Robinson, and now he’s seen a woman of Hispanic descent serve as a color commentator. 

That’s remarkable. It’s like how my Nana was born into a world with no televisions and the beginning of the dawn of automobiles. In her lifetime, she’d watch a man land in the moon. That’s revolutionary. What happened tonight is nothing short of that. 

Think about it. Before tonight no major sport has had a female in the booth. Also, I believe the top teams for all pro sports are white males.  I’m still not sure if it’s good or bad that no one has focused on Jessica Mendoza’s heritage. 

Personally, I’ve loved her smart, insightful work on Baseball Tonight. I don’t think choosing her to join the booth tonight was a PR move. I think ESPN just chose an amazing analyst, much like Greg Poppvich chose a good assistant coach. The question is how did she do?

I think k she started tentatively. It’s only natural. It’s a three man booth with Buster Olney chiming in whenever he has a thought. It’s a hard place for anyone to find their footing. However, she did find her footing. She was insightful and funny. She didn’t over talk, nor did you forget that she was there. She took on a real challenge and succeeded. 

Much like most of my life, I didn’t hear Vin Scully. I’m sure he was amazing. He always is. When I was growing up you rarely, if ever had an opportunity to hear him call games. When I was growing up, it was Jack Buck and Bob Costas who did play-by-play. Not too shabby. However, the real voice of baseball has always been Vin Scully, and to a certain extent I missed out. 

That was until I was at Shea Stadium during a long rain delay. I remember DiamondVision turning on the Dodgers game with Vin Scully welcoming the Mets fans who were watching from Shea. He was terrific. I could’ve sat and listened to him call the Dodger game. Alas, the game was officially rained out, the Dodger game was off, and it was time to head home. 

When XM Radio came out, I got the chance to hear Vin Scully again.  During this late nights I couldn’t sleep or I was working, I’d turn on the Dodger games just to hear him. It was a pleasure. 

Unfortunately, it’s a pleasure my son won’t know. He’s heard Vin Scully; I’ve made sure of that. However, he can’t try appreciate it, and he’ll probably never remember it. It’s sad in s way. My grandfather, father, and I, all of the same name, have heard and enjoyed Vin Scully. The Fourth won’t. 

However, there’s no Jessica Mendoza. We do t know where her broadcasting career will take her, but we do know it’s off to a promising start. I did make sure he watched tonight. He won’t remember it, but he will learn why it was significant. Who knows, maybe by the time he’s old enough, it will no longer be noteworthy. Maybe next time we’re talking about a questionable error made by an official scorer and the subsequent no-hitter. 

Overall, I just want him to have good announcers to help him learn about and enjoy baseball. Jessica Mendoza qualifies as that.