The context of Curt Schilling’s exit from ESPN has been well documented. We’re not gonna rehash all that here, but suffice to say he was a habitual line-crosser who repeatedly violated the communications standards of the large institution that employed him.
Nevertheless, Schilling remains in the conversation. On Tuesday, Kevin Draper of Deadspin filed from ESPN’s Upfronts presentation, which stressed that the network is purposefully becoming more diverse with regard to race, ethnicity, and gender. We have previously written that in addition to getting more diverse, ESPN appears to also be moving left politically.
Draper concluded, whether or not this strategy is cynical, it presents a better product for sports fans:
Given what the country looks like, and what the country will look like five and 10 years from now, it makes sense for ESPN to prefer Jessica Mendoza to Curt Schilling as the face it presents to the world on TV, online, and on phones. Happily for sports fans, she’s a better announcer than Schilling is, just as Dan Le Batard is a better hot-taker than Skip Bayless, and Bomani Jones is a better provacative radio host than Colin Cowherd. Meeting viewers where they are works for everyone, for now. The question is what will happen when it doesn’t—when virtue and the appearance of virtue don’t align so neatly and easily as they do now—and on that, ESPN didn’t offer many answers, or many reasons to think they want anyone to ask the question.
Le Batard vs. Bayless and Bomani vs. Cowherd are not either/or propositions. I personally like all of them. I have no difficulty finding any of their content. I’m sure I’ve written otherwise before on Skip, but he’s actually grown on me over the last year or two based on his ability engage an audience – if he didn’t, would we always be talking about him? – and that he by many accounts treats those around him well.
While I strenuously disagree with Schilling’s politics, and even more so with the tact in which he transmits them, I always thought he did a good job calling baseball games. However, I’m not a high-volume baseball viewer (I watch most Cubs games, but rarely tune in to national broadcasts, and definitely don’t give them my undivided attention), and will confess to not yet having an opinion one way or the other on Mendoza’s work.
But, I’m interested in how our readership feels about this. Taking everything you know about them into account, who would you rather watch as a color commentator on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball?