Jessica Mendoza, an ESPN baseball broadcaster and New York Mets baseball operations adviser, said Wednesday she had a problem with the pitcher who went public to blow open the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.
Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic in November about the Astros using a sophisticated system to steal signs from opposing teams. Fiers, who was a part of the Astros’ 2017 World Series-winning team, said the scheme was not the right way to play the game. On Monday, MLB handed down a year-long suspension for A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow and are mulling severe punishment for Alex Cora.
Appearing on ESPN radio’s “Golic and Wingo,” Mendoza took issue with Fiers going public with the scandal while a member of the Athletics.
“Going public, yeah,” Mendoza said. “I get it if you’re with [the] Oakland A’s and you’re on another team. Heck yeah, you'd better be telling your teammates ‘Look, hey, heads up if you hear some noises when your pitching like this is what’s going.’ But to go public, yeah it didn’t sit well with me. And honestly, it made me sad for the sport that that’s how all this got found out.
“I mean this wasn’t something that MLB naturally investigated or that other teams complained about because they naturally heard about and that investigations happened. But it came from within. It was a player that was a part of it – that 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. 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 and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.”
Mendoza later released a statement attempting to clarify her comments.
Fiers played in 29 games with the Astros during the 2017 season. He had a 5.22 ERA. He and three other unnamed sources told The Athletic about Houston’s use of a camera in center field which would relay catchers’ signals to pitchers to a video monitor in the clubhouse where a team employee would bang on a trash can to signal to the batter whether a breaking ball was coming.
Carlos Beltran, the Mets’ manager and colleague of Mendoza, was implicated in the sign-stealing report. He was said to have played a major role in implementing the scheme along with Cora. Beltran was not punished because he is not a player anymore and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said it would be impossible to know the culpability of each player who used the sign-stealing system.
The Mets have not made a decision on Beltran’s future. He denied knowing of the Astros’ system in an interview with the New York Post last year.