Jessica Mendoza made history this year by becoming the first female to broadcast a Major League Baseball game for ESPN. On Tuesday, she was the first woman to work a playoff game from the ESPN booth. Though Mendoza—a former softball star who’s a two-time Olympian—roundly received positive reviews for her baseball knowledge and TV chops, not everybody was quite so happy with the fact she was there at all.
Take it away, sports talk radio host Mike Bell of 92.9 The Game in Atlanta.
A woman made history tonight calling an MLB Playoff game for ESPN. This is what an Atlanta radio guy thought of it. pic.twitter.com/xf3Rc07EFY
— Boiled Sports (@BoiledSports) October 7, 2015
Also on Tuesday, Bell wrote in a tweet that’s also been deleted, “Really? A women’s softball slugger as guest analyst on MLB Wildcard Game? Once again ESPN too frigging cute for their own good.”
Understandably, those tweets didn’t sit well with a number of people who live in the 21st century, and he was suspended by the station on Wednesday. He also raised the ire of the Atlanta Falcons.
Embarrassed by Mike Bell’s comments, given he’s on our flagship station. Inappropriate and disappointing.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 7, 2015
On Wednesday, Bell released a statement of apology on the station’s website, via Creative Loafing.
As some of you may have heard, I said something really stupid on Twitter last night directed at Jessica Mendoza, the analyst on last night’s ESPN Wild Card broadcast. What I said was hurtful and I want to take this opportunity to say to Jessica that what I said was dumb and hurtful and I apologize for putting that garbage on Twitter. I have reached out to ESPN so I can have the opportunity to speak with her and hopefully apologize to her in person.
As someone who knows how hard it is to get a career in sports broadcasting started, I know what I said was totally insensitive and demeaning to Jessica and to all the women working in this industry, including the many women I work with here at CBS Radio Atlanta, who I also owe a big apology to.
The last thing I wanted to do was create drama for my coworkers who, unfortunately, get tainted because of my stupid remarks, and have to answer questions about what I said. I especially want to apologize to my partner Carl Dukes, who now has to deal with the fallout of my screw up.
I also want to express my apologies to our advertisers and sponsors, and to our sports team partners. They have all made a commitment to this radio station and I let them all down big-time.
Moving forward, I can honestly tell you that I fully understand how hurtful the things I say on-air and social media can be. There is no place for that kind of stuff on our show. I will be more mindful and respectful in how I express my opinions and hope I become a better talk show host, but more importantly a better person. This has been a real eye-opening experience and I hope I can put the lesson learned from it to good use.
As for any criticism she might face, Mendoza told BuzzFeed earlier this week, “My college coach was a baseball guy. So why is no one questioning why a baseball player is coaching or analyzing softball when the reverse happens? To the average viewer, it’s not just like ‘This is a seamless crossover,’ but for me, it’s all I’ve known. The strategies, mind-set, coaches — it’s identical.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution also faced criticism for its original report in which it wrote Bell had been “attacked by the Twitter PC police.”
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 7, 2015
That line eventually was deleted. Hopefully, Bell’s way of thinking about a qualified woman who was simply doing her job will soon be deleted from existence, as well.
Screengrab via 92.9 The Game/YouTube