Last week, the sports world was aghast at negative comments that ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza made about Mike Fiers and whistleblowing on his former Astros teammates for cheating. This quickly turned into a discussion about conflicts of interest because of her front office role with the Mets, and got as harsh as Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal opining that she should be dumped from Sunday Night Baseball. Today, Pedro Martinez made relatively similar comments about Fiers on WEEI; will he be subjected to similar scrutiny?
Martinez is a studio analyst for MLB Network and TBS. He took on a front office special assistant role with the Red Sox in 2013, mentored their players at spring training last year, and remains listed in the role on the team's website. Like the Mets, where manager Carlos Beltran was caught up in the Astros' scandal and had to vacate his role, the Red Sox organization was impacted by essentially having no choice but to get rid of their popular manager Alex Cora in the collateral damage. The Red Sox also are the subject of a separate MLB investigation. It's presumable that none of this happens if Fiers did not go public with his knowledge.
In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that Martinez faces anywhere near the backlash that Mendoza did. This is partly predicated on the fact that Martinez is one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time and is the closest thing baseball has as an analyst to Charles Barkley, where his strong opinions are welcomed and unpopular comments quickly forgotten because the public by and large appreciates the candor.
But it's also because Mendoza was unique in the fact that anyone cared about her role with the Mets in the first place. I don't recall anyone pounding their fists on the table about Martinez working for media and the Red Sox before, nor similar concerns about Frank Thomas working for Fox Sports and the White Sox or Al Leiter taking checks from MLB Network and the Mets. Perhaps there is an impression that everyone else's roles are ceremonial while Mendoza's has at least been privately described as the beginning of the path towards becoming an MLB general manager, but it's nevertheless an odd distinction.
Another odd distinction is that this is the conflict of interest people get up in arms about, even though it's disclosed. If the public knows somebody has a conflict of interest, they can hear that person's comments about anything and evaluate them accordingly.
On the flip side, there's virtually no one up in arms about the fact that a vast majority of the most prominent play-by-play people, color commentators, studio analysts, and news-breakers -- across all sports and all outlets -- are represented by agencies who also have players and/or coaches as clients. There are occasionally games called where a broadcaster and coach have not just the same agency, but the same agent, and that never gets disclosed.
We will see if Martinez gets even 20 percent of the same backlash for his comments, but I'll bet you we don't see a major newspaper columnist petitioning TBS or MLB Network to drop him from their broadcasts.