SBD/July 16, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Trout Makes Argument As New Face Of MLB After All-Star Game MVP Performance

Many think Trout can be Jeter's eventual successor as the face of MLB
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).
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