Olympian/sports announcer Jessica Mendoza in 2008 Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

ESPN’s broadcast of Tuesday’s play-in game between the Astros and the Yankees featured baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza, an Olympic softball player who in calling it became the first woman to announce a nationally televised playoff game. I didn’t watch, but my partner, Ted Cox, a longtime Reader sports columnist and Daily Herald media critic as well as a past member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, has been impressed: “She knows her shit, and she’s super up on sabermetrics. And she’s eloquent too.”

Turns out that even in this day and age a lot of people just can’t get past the fact that she’s—gasp!—female. A few samples from a recent New York Times article:

The fact that i have to listen to this woman announcer all night is making me lose my mind
  — Wizard of Os (@Westburns7) Oct. 7, 2015

Can this woman announcer stop talking
  — Mike (@Mike_Reda20) Oct. 7, 2015

Really? A women’s softball slugger as guest analyst on MLB Wildcard Game? Once again ESPN too frigging cute for their own good. 
— Mike Bell (@mikebell929) Oct. 7, 2015

The last, an Atlanta sports radio broadcaster, threw a full-fledged tantrum, and though he eventually tweeted an apology to Mendoza, he’s been suspended after referring to her as “Tits McGee,” to wit:

 “yes tell us Tits McGee when you’re up there hitting the softball you see a lot of 95 mile an hour cutters?”
— Mike Bell (@mikebell929) October 7, 2015

You guys are telling me there isn’t a more qualified Baseball player ESPN can use than a softball player? Gimme a break!
— Mike Bell (@mikebell929) October 7, 2015

According to the Washington Post:

Along with the usual raw misogyny, several men questioned whether anyone who hadn’t played the game could analyze it (apparently they’ve never heard of legendary baseball announcers Vin Scully, Jack Buck or Red Barber). One tweeter bared what may be the male sports fan’s psyche: “Why do I turn on baseball and hear a woman’s voice in the broadcast booth?!? We watch sports to get away from women.”

Even her defenders couldn’t resist patronizing her:

⚾️ Jacob Leclaire ⚾️ @TheRealKing32
Didn’t think I’d like this woman announcer but she actually makes a little sense when she talks lol
7:59 PM – 6 Oct 2015 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Julie DiCaro, an anchor for 670 the Score, is routinely called a “cunt,” “whore,” “skank,” etc, and her commentary on the ongoing Patrick Kane rape investigation has had some fans of the Blackhawks wishing her a violent death (beaten to death with a hockey stick, hit in the head with a hockey puck) or even an encounter with Bill Cosby (DiCaro, also a former public defender, has written about being a victim of rape). 

But make no mistake, she writes in a recent post for Sports Illustrated:

The very act of maintaining a career in sports journalism is enough to inflame those who feel that their special Y-Chromosome Club is under siege. ESPN’s Jen Lada remembers an email she received from one such “sports fan.”

“A viewer emailed me saying the only reason I had my job was because I had used my big mouth to service my boss and male colleagues,” Lada said. “When I responded that such vulgarity towards women set a terrible example for his young child (who was prominently featured in the man’s Twitter and Facebook profiles) he replied that his son and his middle school-aged friends agreed and were laughing at me while watching, as well. Parenting #FAIL.”

Ironically, Mendoza got her opportunity because announcer Curt Schilling was suspended by ESPN in August after he sent out a tweet comparing extremist Muslims to the Nazis (the underlying graphic shows Hitler giving a sieg heil).

Mendoza, a two-time Olympic champion among other significant accomplishments, has kept her cool throughout, telling Good Morning, America that the thing she was most excited about “was the aftermath and how much support there really was.” 

“Yes, I am a female, but I want it to get to the point where, let’s think about what I am saying, what I am doing, and not so much the sex that I am,” she said.

“I want to get to a point when we hear a female voice on NBA, NFL, or just anything in men’s sports, and it is like, ‘Sweet. She’s doing a good job.’ ”

Forbes SportsMoney columnist Maury Brown—who calls Mendoza a rising star “not because she’s a woman, but because she’s proven to be a solid baseball voice”—reports that she’ll be back with ESPN next year.

Meanwhile Schilling (who I always really liked as a player, dang it all) is reportedly also in hot water over a self-justifying e-mail he sent to the website Awful Announcing after it ran pieces critical of his asinine tweet; AA, as it calls itself, responded by posting the correspondence, leading to a second irate e-mail from Schilling.

I have to confess I found Schilling’s original response too insane to bother with closely, but the gist seems to be that he is full of honesty and integrity, doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, and is just a poor old misunderstood conservative who feels compelled to speak his mind. (It ends “God Bless and hopefully He will forgive me for this rant.”)

Radical suggestion: How about we judge all people on their merits?