Opinion Time: Who is the face of baseball?
Sentinel Sports Editor
Here’s an interesting note: For the second straight year, ESPN put out a list of the 100 most famous athletes on the planet. Not exactly sure of the criteria and formula but there were exactly zero baseball players on the list, which included four cricket player, one badminton and table tennis player each, two swimmers and three mixed martial arts fighters.
The face of baseball? Right now it’s a silhouette.
NY Yankees giant power hitter Aaron Judge is a sudden favorite with Bryce Harper and Mike Trout two obvious candidates.
Judge is the most intriguing but he needs to show the ability to put up big numbers year after year.
I have to give Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado some love because of his All-Star surge in the voting to become the starter at third. He’s arguably the best all-around player in the game right now.
But actually, I don’t see anyone as the face of baseball. The game has become antiquated and boring. For me, the games are too long with minimal thrills.
Unfortunately, like other sports, the face of baseball will be the guy who makes headlines for antics not associated with the game as much as his play on the field. Plus some outlandish tweets via Twitter — that works for some people.
A few contenders with no one even close to being the new face of baseball.
Sentinel Sports Writer
Man, after Monday night’s Home Run Derby, it’s hard not to call Aaron Judge the face of Major League Baseball. He’s fairly charismatic, hits monster home runs and — perhaps most importantly — he plays for the most marketable team in baseball.
The New York Yankees star leads the MLB in long balls, launching 30 home runs, including several that traveled well beyond 500 feet. If even the most casual of baseball fans somehow missed what Judge was doing, he left no doubt of his power-hitting prowess at this year’s home run derby by downing Justin Bour, fellow rookie phenom Cody Bellinger and then, finally, Miguel Sano to take the crown.
His rookie pace is just shy of 60 home runs and he’s one of three players — Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr. are the others — to lead the league in home runs during the first half of the season and win the home run derby.
The MLB struggles to market its stars, that’s no secret. Mike Trout has a legitimate chance to be the greatest baseball player of all time, but Simone Biles, who competes in front of a large television audience once every four years as an Olympic gymnast, is more widely known.
Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant have kind of carried the torch for MLB’s marketing, but Judge has the perfect mix of skill and a big-time market to become the next face of baseball.
Sentinel Sports Writer
I remember when Reggie Jackson proclaimed he was “the straw that stirs the drink.” Mr. October was the big-talking, big-hitting, big star in the Big Apple.
That was back when baseball ruled professional sports. You didn’t miss “This Week in Baseball” every Saturday morning, followed by the Saturday Game of the Week, at least not in our house (unless my brother or I had a game, that is).
Now the NFL has captured America’s attention and the NBA has nosed ahead of Major League Baseball on the Big 4’s list. Now more than ever, baseball needs a face without the black eyes of player strikes and steroids.
Small markets and television blackouts don’t help. Baseball has become a regional-television sport (who is Justin Bour?), games are too long and despite this year’s uptick in home runs, casual sports fans want action.
There’s a crop of fresh-faced kids who just might give baseball the look it desperately needs. Mike Trout is the best player in the game. Bryce Harper is right there, but that hard-nosed style rubs opponents (and teammates) the wrong way and his temper gets the best of him. That, however, seems to endear him to a lot of fans. Kris Bryant leading the Cubs to a long-awaited World Series title made him immensely popular, and now Aaron Judge of the Yankees is getting a lot of buzz.
Is there a face of baseball? I’m not sure there is, but along about October, someone will catch our fancy just long enough to make baseball the game you can’t miss — until it’s time for kickoff.
Sentinel Sports Copy Editor/Designer
Bryce Harper may not be the best player in baseball — Mike Trout has that title — but Harper is more recognizable than the Angels’ star.
Harper also has had an up-and-down career, with good statistical years and other seasons interrupted by injury.
So to say he is the face of baseball like Derek Jeter is premature.
Jeter was the last player recognized nationally as a star. That’s because baseball is a regional game.
Regional markets dominate the Major League Baseball landscape and because of that, there are several “regional” faces of baseball.
Here in Colorado, Nolan Arenado is the face of baseball because he’s the best player on the only team in our region.
Go to Texas and Houston’s Carlos Correa or Texas’ Adrian Beltre is the face of baseball.
Head to California and you’re likely to hear about Trout, the Giants’ Buster Posey or the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
In the Midwest, the Cub’s Kris Bryant is the obvious choice for the face of baseball.
Baseball doesn’t need a true face of baseball to succeed, but having one would draw more casual fans to view games.
In searching for the next Jeter, the journey should start at Jeter’s old stomping ground, out in right field where the 6-foot-7, 282 pound Aaron Judge resides.