KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Mets’ opener against the Royals Sunday night marked the official debut of the new ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” team, with Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone in the booth.
Mendoza garnered strong reviews late last season and made history as a woman analyst for the Yankees-Astros wild-card playoff game at Yankee Stadium.
As he watched batting practice before the game, SNY’s Ron Darling, the top baseball analyst for Turner Sports, strongly endorsed his ESPN counterpart.
“I think she is fantastic,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in our business outworks her. I just love that she brings a fresh, new look at our sport. [The Nationals’] Bryce Harper was talking about how tired the sport is. Well, it’s a fresh new look. There’s nothing tired about Jessica Mendoza’s analysis. It’s some of the best stuff I’ve seen, to tell you the truth.
“There is nothing that separates her from me except a thousand years [in age]. I was raised with a dad who loved the game and taught it to me, and so was she . . . And she could hit [as a star softball player] and I couldn’t.
“I think she brings a great, effervescent quality, a hard work ethic. Anyone would be proud that she’s where she’s at right now.”