- ESPN analyst and New York Mets advisor Jessica Mendoza criticised MLB pitcher Mike Fiers for publicly confirming the existence of the Houston Astros cheating scheme.
- Mendoza said Fiers was in his right to tell his new team, but it didn’t sit well with her that Fiers went public when MLB had not naturally found out.
- Several in the sports world criticised Mendoza’s comments.
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ESPN analyst and New York Mets advisor Jessica Mendoza on Thursday said she had a problem with MLB pitcher Mike Fiers publicly revealing the Houston Astros cheating scheme.
Speaking to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich in November, Fiers confirmed the existence of the Astros’ scheme to electronically steal signs. The team would watch a TV outside of the dugout for pitches relayed by a camera in the outfield, then bang a garbage can to tip-off batters to off-speed pitches.
“That’s not playing the game the right way … They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win,” Fiers told The Athletic. Fiers was with the Astros for over two seasons, including 2017, when the team won the World Series. He now plays for the Oakland A’s.
On ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” on Thursday, Mendoza said while Fiers should have alerted his new team to the scheme, she doesn’t think he should have publicly commented on it.
“I get it, if you’re with the Oakland A’s and you’re on another team, then 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.
“But to go public? It didn’t sit well with me. And honestly, it made me sad for the sport that that’s how this all got found out. This wasn’t something that MLB naturally investigated, or that even other teams complained about because they naturally heard about and investigations happened. But it came from within. It was a player that was a part of it, that benefitted 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. It’s something that you don’t do.”
“To go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.”
— Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin (@KeyJayandZ) January 16, 2020
In The Athletic’s initial report, Rosenthal and Drellich wrote that there is a belief within MLB that illegal sign-stealing is widespread.
“It’s an issue that permeates through the whole league,” one manager told The Athletic. “The league has done a very poor job of policing or discouraging it.”
Rosenthal and Drellich reported that there was league-wide paranoia about the Astros cheating. MLB pitcher Danny Farquhar told The Athletic that he believed he heard a loud banging sound from the Astros dugout that was tipping off his pitches one game.
Fiers had also told The Athletic that the existence of a cheating scheme could hurt pitchers’ careers.
“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said. “Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s (B.S.) on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys.”
After investigating the Astros, MLB came down hard on them, fining them $US5 million, docking first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and suspended GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch one year. The Astros later fired Luhnow and Hinch. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, many within baseball think the league wasn’t hard enough on the Astros.
Several people in the sports world criticised Mendoza’s take.
Funny, I seem to recall there being a lot of private AND public paranoia, suspicion, rumors, and concern over the Astros stealing signs *before* Mike Fiers went on the record. https://t.co/JOk7reBSFN
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) January 16, 2020
Fiers: "There are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing. … It’s (B.S.) on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys."https://t.co/UYSzTbhvPo https://t.co/cvdAwi8j3e
— Chris Vannini ???? (@ChrisVannini) January 16, 2020
Baseball needs more people like Mike Fiers, not fewer. The game owes him for saying something and putting his name to it. Silence and whispers only creates a sequel of the Steroid Era. Time for more light, not darkness. https://t.co/87cSjYHhMK
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) January 16, 2020
I love the Mets and selfishly hope Carlos Beltran isn’t fired… but blaming the whistleblower for uncovering a horrifying and widespread cheating scandal is CRAZY. Just completely appalling. https://t.co/NI7DHLM0ke
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 16, 2020
Glad the Snitches Get Stitches contingent finally got a chance to weigh in here https://t.co/Urni4NURjd
— Drew Magary (@drewmagary) January 16, 2020
Mendoza is the first Mets employee to publicly comment on the controversy. The Mets may be affected, as new manager Carlos Beltran was named in MLB’s report as a key figure in the Astros scheme, but was not punished because he was a player at the time. There is speculation that the Mets may fire Beltran in wake of the report.
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