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Jessica Mendoza Likely Out Of Sunday Night Booth

“Mendoza signed a multi-year contract extension with ESPN prior to the 2019 baseball season.”

Brandon Contes

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ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball crew hasn’t earned much praise in recent years and now the network might be ready for a change. According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, ESPN is “working toward removing Jessica Mendoza from its Sunday Night Baseball booth.”

Mendoza spent the last two seasons paired with Alex Rodriguez and play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian on ESPN. She’s the longest tenured member of the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, stepping into the booth during the 2015 season to replace Curt Schilling. 

Mendoza, who was hired by the New York Mets last year as an operations adviser, was recently blasted for criticizing pitcher Mike Fiers for his role in uncovering the Astros sign-stealing scandal.  At the time of Mendoza’s comments, the Mets were mulling what to do with their recently hired manager Carlos Beltran, who reportedly played a “key role” in helping the Astros cheat during the 2017 season. The situation highlighted what has been perceived by many to be a conflict of interest for Mendoza, working for both ESPN and the Mets. It should be noted The Post reported ESPN was considering removing Mendoza from Sunday Night Baseball prior to her comments about Fiers. 

According to Marchand, ESPN told Rodriguez he will return to Sunday Night Baseball for the 2020 season, but Vasgersian has not been given that same assurance. When ESPN lured A-Rod into the booth in 2018, he reportedly preferred Vasgersian as the broadcast’s play-by-play announcer, but that might not be enough for the network to keep Vasgersian on for a third season. 

Both A-Rod and Vasgersian are entering the final seasons of three-year contracts with ESPN, which could present a more enticing case to retain the play-by-play voice. Mendoza signed a multi-year contract extension with ESPN prior to the 2019 baseball season. If the network does indeed remove her from the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, she will likely continue to have a prominent role with ESPN.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here

Sports TV News

LIV Golf Nearing TV Deal With The CW Network

“LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.”

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LIV Golf

According to a report from Front Office Sports, LIV Golf has laid out a deal with The CW Network for television carriage in the United States.

The deal is a multi-year agreement that will see the tour own real estate in lesser-viewed time slots on the network. A revenue-sharing relationship between the tour and the television network is expected to be struck.

LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.

After a standup comedy show in West Palm Beach last week, Feherty reportedly told the crowd “Have you heard of CW? I might get fired for this, but…,” according to report from Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand had previously reported a deal between the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and the network was likely.

Nexstar Media Group — the nation’s largest television owner — is the majority owner of The CW Network. There are around 220 affiliates of the network on over-the-air television stations. Rumors of an acquisition of LIV Golf’s rights come on the heels of The CW Network being linked to the potential launch of a college football bowl game that would air exclusively on the network.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Sports TV News

Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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