Houston’s cheating has been roundly condemned, but to hear ESPN color commentator Jessica Mendoza tell it, Fiers’s whistleblowing is the bigger problem. She said Thursday on the network that Fiers would have been perfectly within his rights to spill the beans to his new teammates after moving on from Houston — he has pitched for the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics since leaving the Astros as a free agent after the 2017 season. But Fiers going public “didn’t sit well with me” and “made me sad for the sport that that’s how this all got found out,” Mendoza said.
“I mean, I get it: If you’re with the Oakland A’s and you’re on another team, I mean, heck yeah, you better be telling your teammates, ‘Look, hey, heads up, if you hear some noises when you’re pitching, this is what’s going on.’ For sure,” Mendoza said in full. “But to go public? Yeah, that didn’t sit well with me. And honestly, it made me sad for the sport that that’s how this all got found out. I mean, this wasn’t something that MLB naturally investigated or that even other teams complained about because they naturally heard about it and then investigations happened. But it came from within. It was a player that was a part of it but benefited from it during the regular season when he was a part of that team. And that, when I first heard about it, it hits you like any teammate would, right? It’s something that you don’t do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know. But to go public with it, call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.”
A few hours after making her comments, Mendoza posted a message on Twitter in which she tried to “clarify” her remarks by saying she wished Fiers had lodged his accusations directly with MLB instead of through the media.
“I feel strongly that the game of baseball will benefit greatly because this sign stealing matter was uncovered,” she wrote. “Cheating the game is something that needs to be addressed and I’m happy to see that the league is taking appropriate action. The point I should have been much more clear on was this: I believe it’s very critical that this news was made public; I simply disagree with the manner in which that was done. I credit Mike Fiers for stepping forward, yet I feel that going directly through you team and/or MLB first could have been a better way to surface the information. Reasonable minds can disagree.”
On Monday, MLB suspended Houston manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one year, and the team soon fired both over their roles in the scandal. On Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox parted ways with manager Alex Cora, who as an Astros bench coach in 2017 was an “active participant” in the scheme, MLB’s investigation found.
The only player mentioned in the report was former Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltrán, who retired after the 2017 season and was named the manager of the New York Mets this winter. On Thursday, Beltrán stepped down from that job amid the scandal’s fallout.
Along with her ESPN job, Mendoza serves as a paid adviser to the Mets. In her Twitter comment Thursday, she said her role with the team “does not shape my opinion in any way, shape or form on this matter.”