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Jessica Mendoza: 'It's just another game'

Olympic medalist and ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza moderates

Olympic medalist and ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza moderates at the 2014 Women in Cable Telecommunications Leadership Conference on Sept. 16, 2014 in Manhattan Credit: Getty Images / Larry Busacca

Jessica Mendoza is set to make media history Tuesday night by becoming the first female analyst on a nationally televised major-league playoff game, a point ESPN drove home by posting supportive and appreciative statements from six female colleagues.

But while preparing for the Astros-Yankees American League wild-card game in the Yankee Stadium press box four hours before game time, Mendoza said she was focused on the job more than the milestone.

"(ESPN) has been sending me stuff all day and the phone's been ringing off the hook," she said. "I told a lot of people I'll talk to them tomorrow. For me it's just another game. I'm just trying to approach it that way and not make it any bigger than it is."

Still, Mendoza said, she has appreciated the support from colleagues - male and female, publicly and privately.

"I think even more so than them publicly saying stuff, it's been the stuff internally they've done," she said. "Honestly, like (studio analyst) Eduardo Perez and I sat down last night and were going over stuff and it was great. And talking with Jon Sciambi, who's not even on this game.

"It's one thing to publicly be supportive. That's the cool thing. It would be harder to be like: 'We don't want her here.' But behind the scenes they could be showing me other things. If anyone does feel that way I haven't felt it.

"Like Buster Olney. He's been someone who's allowed me to kind of jump in his back pocket. He has so many relationships. He doesn't have to do that. But people have. That's probably what stood out more than anything."

Mendoza, a two-time Olympic medalist in softball for the United States, replaced Curt Schilling alongside Dan Shulman and John Kruk in ESPN's top baseball booth after Curt Schilling was removed in the wake of a tweet comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis.

Here is what she said in a story posted on ESPN Front Row, which is produced by the network's publicity department:

"There are a lot of women, and not only in sports, that work hard to get to that next level and push the envelope or even stereotype to get to where they want to be. For me, I just want to earn it. I want the work I have done this last month to not be about women in baseball, but about people, male or female, being where they deserve to be because they have earned it and are respected by those who matter."

New York Sports