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Angels CF Mike Trout's "coronation as the new face of baseball took place" last night at the MLB All-Star Game, where the 22-year-old was named the second-youngest MVP of the game in history, according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON HERALD. The game "managed to keep the deserved focus on the retiring Derek Jeter all night long but still allowed room on the stage" for Trout (BOSTON HERALD, 7/16). In Minneapolis, LaVelle Neal III writes the quest to replace Jeter as the face of the game "might already be over." Trout is one of several players cited as "being worthy of succeeding Jeter," and last night could be "one of many more nights in which [Trout] stands out among the best" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/16). ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg said, "I don’t think that could have worked out any better ... for Major League Baseball, because there's sort of a passing of the baton that is going on here. Cal Ripken passed the baton to Derek Jeter (in '01), and I think as much as anyone, Derek Jeter passes the baton to Mike Trout" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/16). In L.A., Bill Shaikin writes the "face of the game is the one that plays hard, keeps his head down, and acts as an ambassador for his sport without a hint of controversy." Shaikin: "Jeter gets it. ... Trout gets it too" (L.A. TIMES, 7/16).
TROUT FILLS THE ROLE WELL: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan reported Jeter's retirement means someone needs to take the “face-of-baseball title,” and Trout “plays the role well.” The marketing machine is “kicking up and starting to groom Trout” for the title -- he is one of just three players Nike has “given signature shoes to ... in the last 25 years.” Trout also has deals with Subway, Topps, BodyArmor and Phiten, among others, resulting in the “sort of push befitting” the face of baseball. Trout is the “best player in baseball,” a quality that the face of the sport “ideally” would possess. Other players could fill the role, but Nationals RF Bryce Harper “got injured and regressed,” Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen “is in the wrong city,” Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw only plays “every five days” and Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera is “too old to serve for the first time.” Meanwhile, Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig “at least belongs in the conversation.” There is a “magnetism to him, to everything he does, and it radiates.” MLB soon could “find itself with its most dynamic star since Ken Griffey Jr.” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/15). ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote in MLB's "inner sanctum, there's nothing they root for harder than for Mike Trout to BE the future of their game." However, if Trout is going to become the "next transcendent, breathtaking star," it is "going to require more than mere baseball talent." It takes "character, presence, charisma and the inner strength to handle the crush of a spotlight that never burns out." Stark: "Is there anyone in baseball, once Jeter fades into the rearview mirror, who fits that profile better than Trout?" (ESPN.com, 7/15). USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz notes it is "too early to know whether Trout has the mettle to handle such responsibility, although the early signs are encouraging." He has kept his "clean-cut All-American image amid intense scrutiny playing in the nation's second-largest media market in the Twitter and Facebook age" (USATODAY.com, 7/16).
SHOULD MLB DO MORE TO PROMOTE STARS? ESPN Radio’s Greenberg noted the top NBA players are the “most famous people we have in American sports” and wondered whether the best players in MLB “shine as brightly.” He said, “Mike Trout is a big star, Albert Pujols is a big star. Derek Jeter, on his way out, has sort of achieved a different level of stardom, but this is his last year. They aren’t stars on the same level. There was a time when the biggest stars in American sports were baseball players.” ESPN Radio’s Mike Golic said a lot of that has to do with “companies and marketing and agents.” Golic: “The deals that you make is how much you're out there in front of everybody else. We don't see many baseball players that way.” Greenberg said MLB can do a “better job of selling the individual stars.” He added, “There are a ton of very attractive young stars in Major League Baseball, great players who are going to have long careers. I think that they could be marketed, could be promoted somehow better.” However, he asked, “Do you think that one of the factors in this is that so many of the biggest stars in baseball right now are not American?” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 7/15).
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday said that he has been in regular contact with the recently appointed owner committee to identify his successor and he is "very optimistic" the league's 10th commissioner will be named before his planned retirement in January. The panel of seven owners is being led by the Cardinals' Bill DeWitt Jr. Selig said, "The group is doing fine. Quiet. Thoughtful. The process has worked exactly the way I thought it would." Selig did not go into detail regarding the group's progress to date, but acknowledged there has been "lots of conversation" between him and the committee (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes MLB needs Selig's replacement to be "someone who thinks young and progressive, a baseball guy who is also versed in marketing, communication and social media." D-Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall is the "ideal candidate, even if his departure would represent another loss" for the team. Hall said he has not been approached by the search committee, and Bickley notes there is "skepticism among those who believe Hall is too non-traditional, too much of an outsider to take over the big chair." One MLB exec "scoffed at Hall's candidacy a few months ago." But in previous conversations, D-Backs Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick has "never discounted the idea." Bickley: "I've heard that Hall will at least make the list of candidates and has been told as much in private" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/16).
LEAVING THINGS IN A BETTER STATE: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes MLB "might not be quite the same without Selig, who is leaving the game in a much better place than when he arrived 22 years ago." The league "still has issues, and a few will be sitting on the desk for the next commissioner." However, with the sport generating nearly $9B in revenue, players earning an average salary of $3.3M with no salary cap and the Dodgers recently selling for $2.15B, there is "enough to wash away all of the blemishes." Yankees SS Derek Jeter said, "The industry is doing a lot better now monetarily. Just look at the attendance; it's higher than it's ever been. Salaries are higher than they've ever been. Teams are making more money than they ever have." Nightengale notes for Selig, it is "clear how he wants his legacy defined." Selig: "When it's all said and done, I'd say the economic reformation of the sport, because there have been so many manifestations of that. We have the best competitive balance we've ever had, and it's led to so many other things" (USA TODAY, 7/16). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes Selig "leaves baseball in better shape than it was when he took over." Target Field, which held the All-Star festivities this week, is a "fitting a symbol of Selig’s tenure," as securing it was a "thorny issue that took complicated maneuvering, with mistakes and hurt feelings along the way." But the end result is "something better and more sustainable than what had gone before." Kepner: "Ignore all the bad stuff in between, and the before-and-after images of the Selig era striking" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/16). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes Selig at last night's MLB All-Star Game was "taking a victory lap." Selig will "undoubtedly go down as the 'Steroid Commissioner,'" but otherwise it has been a "pretty good run." Selig is "easily harpooned and mistakes have been made, but none of baseball’s other eight commissioners could possibly match his love for the game and respect for its history" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/16).
DON'T LOOK BACK IN ANGER: Selig was interviewed during Fox' coverage of last night's All-Star Game and reflected on the one thing he wished he could have done differently during his tenure as commissioner." He said, "I don't know if I could have done anything different, but I will say the '94 World Series. We had a work stoppage. It was the eighth work stoppage in my baseball career. You probably could see it coming. Now, I'm proud of the fact we've had 22 years of labor peace, but do I wish somehow there would have been a way to stop that? I do" (“2014 MLB All-Star Game,” Fox, 7/15).
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, "for the first time anyone can recall," had "encouraging things to say about the dream of Montreal bringing major league baseball back to La Belle Province," according to Richard Griffin of the TORONTO STAR. The catalyst that "seemed to fuel his changing opinion was a series of two exhibition games played by the Blue Jays and Mets at Olympic Stadium that drew more than 95,000 excited baseball fans." Selig prior to yesterday's All-Star Game said, “It did make a great impression. I was impressed and I talked to a lot of people there. They have much work to be done, but that was very, very impressive, no question about it." Griffin writes it is "nice for Selig to acknowledge the success of the Montreal pre-season partnership with the Jays, but they still need a deep-pocketed ownership group to step up -- and a new stadium" (TORONTO STAR, 7/16). Selig yesterday refused to answer questions directly related to the possibility of relocation and dismissed suggestions from the Oakland City Council regarding the A's potential of moving (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
Torre said MLB has been pleased with the timing of replay reviews
DEEP THOUGHTS: MLB.com's Paul Hagen noted Selig yesterday conducted his traditional Town Hall chat at the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest in the Minneapolis Convention Center, fielding questions "culled from thousands that were submitted on MLB.com, as well as some live from the audience." Asked if he had concern that limiting home-plate collisions has taken some excitement out of the game, Selig responded, "I think it has worked out really well. Our job is to protect the health of the players. I think it is an absolutely right rule." He said of the recent spate of arm injuries to pitchers, "We have a special committee of outstanding doctors, team physicians, trainers and baseball people. They are very concerned about it. Very concerned. We've had a lot of Tommy John problems. Not good for the sport." Finally, Selig said of further changes to the Home Run Derby, "They changed the format of the Derby (this year). Unfortunately, Monday night, we had an hour rain delay. ... They sort of wet things down a little bit. But the Derby is very, very popular. We'll continue to tweak it and see if we can come up with something" (MLB.com, 7/15).
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver yesterday at the league's BOG meeting said that the competition committee is considering creating a mid-season tournament that could potentially be held in Las Vegas. Silver said, “One of the things the competition committee talked about and seemed excited about is potentially some sort of mid season tournament. Very early days in the discussion of that, but we're looking at other opportunities in the league to create excitement. As one of our general managers said at the meeting, there's very few things that you can win in the NBA. I mean, when you think about European soccer, for example, they have the FA Cup and they have other tournaments throughout the season, so ... if we were to look at some sort of mid season tournament I would imagine doing something in Vegas. This would be a terrific neutral site location" (John Lombardo, Staff Writer). In L.A., Mike Bresnahan notes Silver also "envisioned a postseason NBA awards show to be held in Las Vegas" (L.A. TIMES, 7/16).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Silver said that the league’s new centralized replay system will be "put into use beginning with WNBA games in September and in preseason games in October." Silver added that he "expected it to be fully operational by the start of the NBA season." Silver: "It’ll give our officials the assistance of a replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey, where they will be able to queue up the plays for the officials who will then review them. The decision will still lie with the officials at the game on the court. They will have the ultimate decision on every call.” In N.Y., Tim Bontemps notes the goal for the new system is to "try to streamline the process and speed it up in order to try and limit the amount of time spent waiting for the officials to make decisions on calls" (N.Y. POST, 7/16). SI.com's Ben Golliver noted for years, "instant replay decisions have fallen to the three game referees, who must go over to a courtside monitor and review their own work." Generally speaking, the TV monitors available for reviews "aren't that large, and there have also been questions as to whether the referees have every pertinent replay angle available to them on their feed" (SI.com, 7/15).
QUEEN'S FEAST? In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell notes Silver reiterated that the Hornets' chance of hosting a future NBA All-Star Game is "contingent on the city approving various upgrades to Time Warner Cable Arena." Silver said that there have been "no recent discussions on this matter, but he has assured Hornets owner Michael Jordan and team president Fred Whitfield he'd love to bring the All-Star Game back to Charlotte" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/16).