Jessica Mendoza made history Tuesday night as the first woman to ever commentate a Major League Baseball playoff game. With qualifications like being an Olympic gold medalist in softball and an all-American while at Stanford University, it's no surprise she absolutely killed it, showing off her knowledge with details about how one hit resulted in a double, explaining how the dueling pitchers selected each pitch, and more.
But that didn’t stop people—including Mike Bell, a radio commentator in Atlanta—from ripping Mendoza apart on Twitter for simply being a woman calling a baseball game.
While many of the tweets were tasteless, Bell, a professional communicator, had some of the worst comments of them all. First, he referenced a joke from “Anchorman,” when Ron Burgandy calls his co-anchor Veronica Cornerstone “Tits McGhee,” tweeting: “yes tell us Tits McGhee when you’re up there hitting the softball you see a lot of 95 mile an hour cutters?”
And when others called him out, he responded to all of them, complaining about the “PC Police” attacking him and calling people “stupid.”
The tweets have since been deleted, but as Bell should know, nothing ever truly disappears from the Internet. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has screenshots of each one.
On the bright side, Mendoza, 34, is still being recognized for her performance. John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and production, was complementary about Mendoza’s commentary during the game.
“You can expect that she has earned and will have a prominent role in our baseball coverage,” Wildhack told the New York Times. “Her knowledge of the game is comparable to any baseball expert out there, and her knowledge of hitting might be the best of any analyst out there.”
And Mendoza, for her part, is ignoring the nasty comments, noting that there’s no reason why a softball player wouldn’t understand baseball.
“My dad was a baseball coach, and then I switched to softball,” she explained to the Times. “Baseball was all I knew until I crossed over. It never seemed like a big deal. The sports are not exactly alike, but not different enough to where you can’t successfully understand each one.”
Meanwhile, Bell is off the air until Monday, and he read a pre-taped apology on air Wednesday afternoon, saying, “I didn’t get it. I get it now. There is no place for that kind of stuff on my show. I will be more mindful. I hope I can be a better talk show host and better person. This has been an eye-opening experience.”
Mendoza appeared on Good Morning America today, where she offered this response. “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. 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.’”
“I accept his apology,” she added. “I feel very confident…. I’m looking forward to the future."