Athletics

Jessica Mendoza blames A's Mike Fiers for making Astros scandal public

Jessica Mendoza blames A's Mike Fiers for making Astros scandal public

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. 

Shortly after Mendoza's remarks Thursday, Beltran and the Mets mutually parted ways.

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.

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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.

Why Bob Melvin is confident Khris Davis will have a bounce-back season

Why Bob Melvin is confident Khris Davis will have a bounce-back season

MESA, Ariz. -- "He's a pretty confident guy." 

A's manager Bob Melvin was talking about Mr. Consistent. That wasn't his actual nickname, but it might as well have been.

"Keep him healthy and he's been known to hit .247 and 40 home runs," Melvin said as he smiled. 

Khris Davis walked through the clubhouse with a new hairstyle. The cornrows were gone, but the confidence remained. 

The main goal is just to get him to Opening Day, Melvin said. That goal was important because of injuries the designated hitter suffered in 2019. The bug he couldn't quite escape from. 

"Just trying to keep him healthy because we saw last year, the numbers didn't look like they normally do, it's more because of health," Melvin added. "Not so much being hurt, you know when he came back, more having to work around more mechanically around some of the injuries. And then once you start trying to do something differently, sometimes it's tough to find those mechanics again, and I think that's more what happened with him last year than anything else."

BoMel mentioned the A's are not in any rush to give KD a ton of at-bats at the moment, but this upcoming season is a big one for the DH.

"I'm really not thinking about him too much right now, I know he'll be here for us," Melvin said.

It's the message Melvin has preached since the beginning of this "decline." Yet, every time he was prompted on Davis' offensive performance, he was never worried.

He said the 32-year-old had picked up the team before, and it was the team's turn to return the favor. Melvin told NBC Sports California at the end of January he admitted he, and the team, were spoiled by Davis' ability to be on it. Whether he was hitting those 40-plus homer numbers or being that power bat adding pop in an already strong-hitting lineup.

[RELATED: Frankie Montas feels no pressure after PED suspension]

It went to show that despite the dip in numbers, the A's would reach the playoffs. It was a shortened attempt in October, but they got there.

The Green and Gold head into the 2020 season with a lot of promise in every aspect of the roster.

Davis being at the top of his game will make that promise a reality. 

Mark Canha Q&A: A's slugger discusses favorite breakfast, grooming

Mark Canha Q&A: A's slugger discusses favorite breakfast, grooming

MESA, Ariz. -- Although he was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 2010, Mark Canha has been fortunate enough to play all significant levels of baseball in the Bay Area.
 
The San Jose native became Bellarmine College Prep’s 15th major league player. His college years were spent at Evans Diamond on Cal's campus. And since, all 445 of his MLB games have been in an A’s uniform.
 
The self-proclaimed “@bigleaguefoodie” on Instagram also is a flashy hitter, blasting a career-high 26 homers in 2019. Many punctuated with a bat flip on his way up the first base line.

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At Spring Training in Mesa, we gave the slugger all of the tough questions so you can get to know the real Mark Canha.
 
NBC Sports Bay Area: Teammate you would trust most to babysit your daughter?
Mark Canha: Oh, wow, that’s a thinker. Not a lot of them. You’ve got to be careful, this is no joke watching a kid. Maybe Marcus [Semien] because he’s got kids. I think he’d handle it just fine.
 
How many times can you wear the same jeans without washing them?
I usually go twice. Date night we go out and I wear them, and then there’s just the male part of me who takes a look -- didn’t spill anything -- I think I could wear them one more time without washing.
 
If you could clone yourself, what would you make that clone do?
So many things. Dishes, I hate doing them, but I do them a lot. And then I’d make him take the night shifts on waking up when my daughter gets up in the middle of the night, at three in the morning.
 
Were you named after anybody?
No, not that I know of.
 
Best smell of baseball season?
Pine tar. I put it on my helmet and the smell is oddly appealing. It makes me feel good in the [batter's] box, I can smell it. I really cake it on my helmet.
 
Can you still write in cursive?
Yes. Well, I don’t know how prevalent it is, but I can do it if I need to.
 
Teammate you would assume spends the most time personal grooming?
I think I’m the biggest personal groomer, you could ask everyone, they’d say that. It’s something I’m passionate about as I get older, and use all the face creams and moisturizers, it’s important. You’ve got to take care of your skin.  
 
Only one breakfast for the rest of your life, what’s on that plate?
Pancakes and bacon is my favorite combo.
 
If you were a media member covering the A’s spring training what would your number one story be?
In my five years here, it’s been the least amount of turnover from one season to the next, and all the youth, and so I’d try to focus on that.
 
Amount of time on average you spend preparing for the opposing pitcher?
Forty-five minutes, I’ll say, going over video and pitches, and tendencies -- charts and that stuff.
 
Can MLB players be friends with their coaches?
Yeah. I think of Bob [Melvin] as a friend, [hitting coach Darren Bush] as a friend. Good relationships and we’re not just talking business all the time.
 
If there’s an MLB player you were a fan of, you weren’t a player?
I think Matt Chapman would be my favorite player.
 
Best way to split a lunch or dinner tab with a teammate?
If we’re talking strategically, you go with a guy that has more service time. Then you don’t have to pay for anything. The guy with the most time pays it, usually.