Blaming the whistleblower is far too popular these days. On Thursday morning, Jessica Mendoza became the latest to join the wrong side of history.
Mendoza, a former gold medalist softball player, blamed A's pitcher Mike Fiers for the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal becoming public information and the way it has "hurt the game."
"Going public, yeah," Mendoza said Thursday morning on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" when asked if she had a problem with Fiers speaking out on the Astros cheating while with a new team. "I mean, I get it. If you're on the Oakland A's and you're with a different team, I mean, heck yeah. You better be telling your teammates, 'Look, hey, heads up when you're pitching and you hear some noises, this is what's going on.' For sure. 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 this all got found out. I mean, this wasn't something that MLB naturally investigated or that even other teams complained about because they naturally heard about and then investigations happened. It came from within. It was a player that was a part of it, that benefitted from it in the regular season when he when a part of the team.
"And when I first heard about it, it just 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 tried to explain her remarks.
Her original comments are wrong on so many levels, but let's start with the conflict of interest here. Mendoza is an MLB broadcaster for ESPN while at the same time working in an advisory role for the New York Mets' baseball operations. There's conflict of interest No. 1. And it doesn't stop there.
Carlos Beltran was a player on the Astros when they won the World Series in 2017, the year that Houston is accused of electronically stealing signs. He also was the only player named in MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's report on the cheating scandal. How does this tie back to Mendoza? Beltran was hired as the Mets' manager on Nov. 1, 2019.
There's conflict of interest No. 2.
Beltran and the Mets mutually parted ways Thursday, shortly after Mendoza's remarks.
In a November report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich, Fiers, who joined the A's halfway through the 2018 season, was the first player to confirm the Astros used technology to steal signs.
“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said.
On Monday, MLB looked to clean the game up like Fiers wished.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow were each suspended by MLB without pay for the 2020 season. Houston also had to forfeit its first- and second-round picks for the 2020 and '21 MLB Drafts. On top of that, the Astros were fined $5 million -- the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution -- and former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman was placed on baseball's ineligible list through the end of the 2020 World Series.
Later that day, the Astros announced they fired Hinch and Lunhow.
Alex Cora, who was an Astros bench coach at the time and was linked to electronically stealing signs, parted ways with the Boston Red Sox as their manager Tuesday.
What Fiers did in November was far from a sad day for baseball. It was an act of courage to put your name next to strong statements instead of hiding behind anonymous quotes.
What Mendoza did Thursday, however, is nothing more than cowardice.