The Sport Without a Face
Who do you think is the Face of Baseball? Stumped? Not sure? Well, you’re not alone.
Last week, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com wrote an article about this very subject. Most sports fans may know Stark best for stumping Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, the hosts of ‘Mike and Mike’ on ESPN Radio, with incredibly tough, but not impossible trivia questions, which typically require multiple answers during the baseball season.
This week, he discussed his article on ‘Mike and Mike.’ The story featured a detailed survey regarding the Face, or lack thereof, for Major League Baseball. Some incredible results were found in the survey, and it’s definitely worth checking out (look for the link below). When just 1,028 people were polled, 376 different names were given as the Face of Baseball. Almost 37 percent of their sampling couldn’t agree once!
Going past who the Face may or may not be, the article starts to analyze why and how a leader for the sport should and could be created.
As a baseball enthusiast and a self-proclaimed avid fan (you’ll see that come up in the story as well) I am here to say that baseball is not designed for a solitary Face. Football and basketball are team sports centered around typically one individual superstar. Whenever the game is on the line, football and basketball coaches have the option of putting the ball in their best player’s hands. In baseball however, if Yasiel Puig or Miguel Cabrera are due up eighth in the bottom of the ninth, or Mariano Rivera just threw 50 pitches last night, the manager’s hands are tied.
Baseball is a game of failure. It only allows the superstars to succeed so often, while lesser known players (as a unit) step up and play hero more often out of necessity than in any other sport.
Take Miguel Cabrera for instance. He has a chance at a second consecutive triple crown (that’s a whole other story…seriously, are you kidding me??? But anyway…). It’s pretty much unanimous that he is the best offensive force in baseball. Yet, looking through the Detroit Tigers’ box scores from this season so far, Cabrera has been the stand out performer in slightly less than 30 percent of their games. What do I mean by “stand out performer?” Well, basically, if “Miggy” was even close to being the best player in the game for the Tigers on any given day I gave it to him, but if one of his teammates out-shined him, then he did not get credit. All relative ties went to Cabrera and it was still just under 30 percent of the time, and I was very lenient with giving him the nod.
Just think if Peyton Manning or Lebron James was the best contributor on his team only 30 percent of the time. Papa John’s and Nike wouldn’t be calling I can tell you that.
Yes, baseball managed to have some clarity on this matter during the home run races, but those players were chasing one of the greatest and most acclaimed records in all of sports. Of course they are going to stand out. Without those highly publicized record breaking efforts, it’s hard to imagine a single player garnering enough national attention to warrant this title. Plus, nationally televised games are dictated by the great century old rivalries (okay, mostly Yankees/Red Sox), instead of individual players. Stark goes into even more detail about the other factors to this “problem.”
Check out the article and weigh in on the debate here. Does baseball need a front man? Who, what, when, why and how can it happen?