2019 MLB Awards Week: Verlander barely beats Cole for Cy Young

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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I can buy that Trout hasn't played on the big stage yet. But neither, really, has Antetokounmpo. Until last season, Antetokounmpo never played more than seven games in a postseason and everyone knew him.



I didn't mean that you were dumb and wrong, just this way of thinking is that way. There is no reason why a baseball player shouldn't be one of the top ten most famous athletes in this country, especially someone who is as transcendent as Mike Trout. My feeling is that MLB spends so much time fetishizing and promoting its past, that it often neglects and ignores its present. Mookie Betts is another player who should be one of the biggest names in the country. Yet he's not. For a player like Trout or Betts, they have world-class hand-eye-coordination but they aren't genetic freaks like basketball or football players. When I was a kid, I knew that I could never been Patrick Ewing or Michael Jordan, but someone like Jody Reed? I could do that (at least I thought that I could), he's a small dude who ropes doubles. For a kid, Betts should be the same way.

Sorry for the tangent, but what I'm trying to say is that baseball is really missing the boat on this generation. Instead of MLB Network rerunning Ken Burns' Baseball for the millionth time or having the photos of players who haven't played in 50+ years all over their studio show, how about talking about today's baseball stars withOUT the caveat that "Player X is no Willie Mays" or "Player Y doesn't come in as hard as Bob Gibson". Who gives a shit about those guys except boomers trying to hold onto their youth? Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge; these are the players you should be talking about over and over and over again. Not Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Stan Musial*. The NBA and NFL do not do this as much as MLB does.

* And I am (and was) a huge baseball historian. I love the game's links to the past, but most kids don't care about that. At all. They want their heroes to be great and if MLB is telling them that they're all second place to guys who played when their grandparents were kids, eventually they're going to believe them.
Ah yes, I see where you're going. And I agree.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Jul 19, 2005
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I agree broadly with the point about baseball’s obsession with its own history (and fans are guilty of this also, watch what reaction you get if you suggest that Randy Johnson was better than Walter Johnson), but I’m also sure that MLB would love to promote Trout like crazy if he was interested in such a thing. He seems like a nice enough guy, but I don’t think he has that kind of personality maybe, compared with a guy like Harper.
I dunno. Maybe I’m wrong. I know he likes the weather, so that’s something.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Apr 12, 2001
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I agree broadly with the point about baseball’s obsession with its own history (and fans are guilty of this also, watch what reaction you get if you suggest that Randy Johnson was better than Walter Johnson), but I’m also sure that MLB would love to promote Trout like crazy if he was interested in such a thing. He seems like a nice enough guy, but I don’t think he has that kind of personality maybe, compared with a guy like Harper.
I dunno. Maybe I’m wrong. I know he likes the weather, so that’s something.
I don't discount this. Baseball is a weird spot in that it's a team game that's very individualized. You can spend a lot of time practicing by yourself or with one or two teammates. Aside from situations, it's not like that there are set plays to run and practice. Therefore, I think that a lot of baseball players could be considered introverts. Maybe being in front of the spotlight or being the "Face of the Game" isn't something that a lot of ballplayers would relish.

But, I imagine MLB has a huge PR staff that should be able to a. make this painless for the player and b. incentivize him (not necessarily monetary) to do something to make sure that this is a worthwhile endeavor. Make it clear that there will be a handful of players (sort of like the NFL Quarterback Club of the late 80s) that are going to be front-and-center for the league. The Players Association could even get involved and tell the players that if they raise their profiles, they will raise the profiles of all their brethren.

While I don't agree with how Manfred went about it earlier this season, it was so fucking ham-fisted, I don't disagree with the sentiment. Trout plays 30 miles outside of LA, he goes back to Jersey a bunch in the off-season (and it's not like he's busy in October) there is no way that he shouldn't be able to go on Conan or Kimmel or Fallon (or whatever) to raise his Q rating. I get that if you're uncomfortable in crowds, it can be tough. But at the same time, these guys play in front of crowds of 40,000+ every night. Their every move is reported on and they speak to reporters every day. It's not like they're picking some middle-manager from Sheboygan, Wisconsin to go on an all-out media blitz.

A few high-profile gigs for a few MLB players could mean a lot.
 

JoePoulson

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Feb 28, 2006
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Another good example is Lamelo Ball having like 8 million Instragram followers, which is more than any MLB player (and NFL too I believe, but still). Boggles my mind but yea MLB needs to do more to promote.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Jul 19, 2005
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MLB is trying with their "let the kids play" campaign. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it's something about the culture (for lack of a more precise word) of baseball itself that's to blame here. I feel like it's a sport that preaches a very specific version of "shut up and grab your glove," which in turn leads to a lot of players maybe being a little cagey about showing any personality between the lines or in the locker room. And then this filters down to the fans. If you start thinking about players whose personalities baseball fans are familiar with, you're almost certainly going to start with people you dislike. Even on the team you root for! How many Red Sox fans just don't like David Price?

I mentioned Bryce Harper upthread as a guy who's willing to show some personality, and he's a case in point: he has been a magnet for criticism since he was still in the minors, which continues to this day for some reason. Even during the World Series there was no small amount of schadenfreude sent his way, even on SoSH, because... I'm honestly not sure why. Some team was willing to offer him a lot of money? On the other hand, who was the last baseball player who put himself out there and was rewarded for it? David Ortiz was the most recent name I could think of, and he's been retired for three years now.

I guess the ironic thing is that Jeter revealed basically nothing about himself during his playing career and was probably the most famous player in the sport when he retired.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
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Jul 15, 2005
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Who was the last real MLB star that was the face of the league and across the entire country? Griffey back in like 2000?
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
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Jul 20, 2005
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The rules of baseball dictate that the stars can't be as big as they are in other sports. An individual has far less impact on the game than in any other sport. And in a single game, it's exceedingly rare that a superstar in another sport will have a totally awful day, but it's not even remotely surprising to see Trout go 0-4 and never get anything but routine chances in the outfield. To a fan, a superstar in another sport is a guaranteed piece of entertainment whenever you guy a ticket or sit in front of the TV. That's just not the case in baseball.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Apr 12, 2001
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Who was the last real MLB star that was the face of the league and across the entire country? Griffey back in like 2000?
I would say it was Derek Jeter. Everyone knew who Jeter was, he got to host SNL once.

The rules of baseball dictate that the stars can't be as big as they are in other sports. An individual has far less impact on the game than in any other sport. And in a single game, it's exceedingly rare that a superstar in another sport will have a totally awful day, but it's not even remotely surprising to see Trout go 0-4 and never get anything but routine chances in the outfield. To a fan, a superstar in another sport is a guaranteed piece of entertainment whenever you guy a ticket or sit in front of the TV. That's just not the case in baseball.
Wait a second, that's not true. Up until, I don't know pick a year, baseball was the most popular sport in the land. Even when the NFL blew by them, people knew who the baseball stars were despite Pete Rose going 0-4 or Nolan Ryan getting hammered in one game. Tom Brady isn't on the field for all plays and there are times when he has a stinker or two. That's sports, which I think that most people get. Baseball's rules have been the same for 150 years. The game hasn't changed. The way it connects with the fans have changed and baseball (specifically MLB) has done a horrible job of trying to create a bond with today's fans through today's stars. There are players who do something awesome every single night--a lot of times things never seen in this game before--but MLB simply can't capitalize on this for some reason.

Baseball has one of the easiest jobs in sports of making one player (or a bunch of players) look really good. In football, to make a QB look really good, he needs a line to protect him and not only someone to throw to but someone to catch the ball. I mean if Brady chucks up a 60-yard Hail Mary and no one's there, who gives a shit. But with baseball you can make a really cool GIF or short video of Aaron Judge smacking the ball to Saturn or Mookie Betts making an amazing play or Justin Verlander dialing it up to 100 and blowing someone away. It's a mono-a-mono game in a lot of respects like hoops LeBron dunking hard on someone or Tatum stuffing the crap out of someone or a nice dish by Curry.

You keep pumping that stuff out on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok (IDK, my kids use this app incessantly) like the NBA did with Steph Curry and the other stars, and baseball is back.

I'm not one of those people who thinks that baseball is going to dry up and blow away any time soon. But I do think that baseball has a problem in that it refuses to let today's players take center stage.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Dec 19, 2009
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Ortiz and Jeter were the last two truly big names I remember seeing getting spots in non-baseball stuff. Small wonder that they were two of the biggest stars in the game and both played for "storied" franchises in major media markets.

Also, let's be honest here: there's a major reason baseball stars are not national stars on the same level as the NFL and NBA. It's four letters, all capitals, and based out of Bristol, CT.

ESPN pays lip service to baseball in season (and during big stories), a little more than it does to hockey, but football and basketball DOMINATE those broadcasts like nothing else and the stars of those sports are promoted most prominently by the programming. And if you don't want to just chalk it up to ESPN, there's also the fantasy component: football (especially) and basketball are the two biggest fantasy sports, as far as I know, and get the most attention for individual performances as a result (consider that offensive football players get far more attention than defensive, which corresponds to how fantasy football typically deals with the non-offensive side(s) of the ball).

Beyond that, football and basketball have bigger footholds in certain demographics, especially non-white, and probably have more eyes on them on a daily basis than baseball does.

MLB should be promoting the shit out of Trout, Betts, Bregman, Bellinger, Rendon, etc., and trying to make them household names the way some stars of yesteryear were but are just behind the 8-ball because the biggest promotional network is only barely on board with the sport and the fantasy machine is solidly behind football and basketball more so than it is baseball. MLB needs to find a way to fix that if it wants baseball to climb back to the top. So long as its a third-class citizen sport to ESPN and fantasy, it'll be so when it comes to stars.

The NHL has it even worse.
 

Hank Scorpio

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Apr 1, 2013
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Who was the last real MLB star that was the face of the league and across the entire country? Griffey back in like 2000?
It's worth noting that in 2017, MLB the Show opted to display Ken Griffey Jr. on the cover of the game. Griffey had been out of baseball for over six years at that point.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
I agree broadly with the point about baseball’s obsession with its own history (and fans are guilty of this also, watch what reaction you get if you suggest that Randy Johnson was better than Walter Johnson)
Unlike football. I'm sure many fans know about Sammy Baugh, QB for the Redskins from 1937 to 1952, but how many are aware that he also holds the record for most yards per punt in a season (51.4) and that he also led the league in defensive interceptions one year (11).

Baseball was THE game in this country for a very long time. The forerunner to the NFL began around 60 years after baseball became a game played in every town, centered in the mid-west. The first professional basketball game in this country was in 1891 and ended with a 1-0 score. A pro league was started in 1898 but only lasted six years. The NBA was formed in 1949. There was a little professional hockey in this country in the very early 1900s but that was pro-am and a couple of years later there was a U.S> team in an international professional league for about three years. The NHL didn't include a U.S. team until 1924 and until more recent times the U.S. teams were close to the Canadian border.

You are talking about times when there was no television, radio broadcasts were sometimes based on telegraph reports from people at the park, and newspapers. But unless you lived in a town close to the game, you probably wouldn't get an immediate report of the event. What you might get were things like The Sporting Life or the Sporting News (the latter covering only mostly baseball). Also, companies like Reach and Spalding and later The Sporting News put out yearly books containing stats and standing (major and minor league), photos, drawings, the year's rules, etc. You could get these things by mail and as a result, fans developed a familiarity with players. And in regard to this, a shortstop, say, has a more recognizable statistical face than does, say, a right guard.

I never saw Walter Johnson pitch but I once had drinks with a guy (439 TB for the Minneapolis Millers in 1933) who batted against him.
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
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Jul 15, 2005
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So many good Mike Trout stats, I like this one:

Mike Trout MLB career MVP seasons combined: .298/.417/.582
non-MVP seasons combined: .309/.420/.581
 

Marciano490

Urological Expert
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Nov 4, 2007
48,124
I can buy that Trout hasn't played on the big stage yet. But neither, really, has Antetokounmpo. Until last season, Antetokounmpo never played more than seven games in a postseason and everyone knew him.



I didn't mean that you were dumb and wrong, just this way of thinking is that way. There is no reason why a baseball player shouldn't be one of the top ten most famous athletes in this country, especially someone who is as transcendent as Mike Trout. My feeling is that MLB spends so much time fetishizing and promoting its past, that it often neglects and ignores its present. Mookie Betts is another player who should be one of the biggest names in the country. Yet he's not. For a player like Trout or Betts, they have world-class hand-eye-coordination but they aren't genetic freaks like basketball or football players. When I was a kid, I knew that I could never been Patrick Ewing or Michael Jordan, but someone like Jody Reed? I could do that (at least I thought that I could), he's a small dude who ropes doubles. For a kid, Betts should be the same way.

Sorry for the tangent, but what I'm trying to say is that baseball is really missing the boat on this generation. Instead of MLB Network rerunning Ken Burns' Baseball for the millionth time or having the photos of players who haven't played in 50+ years all over their studio show, how about talking about today's baseball stars withOUT the caveat that "Player X is no Willie Mays" or "Player Y doesn't come in as hard as Bob Gibson". Who gives a shit about those guys except boomers trying to hold onto their youth? Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge; these are the players you should be talking about over and over and over again. Not Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Stan Musial*. The NBA and NFL do not do this as much as MLB does.

* And I am (and was) a huge baseball historian. I love the game's links to the past, but most kids don't care about that. At all. They want their heroes to be great and if MLB is telling them that they're all second place to guys who played when their grandparents were kids, eventually they're going to believe them.
I get what you're saying about wanting to root for athletes who aren't built like Alfonso Soriano or Frank Thomas, but I think most people prefer rooting for the "freaks" whether its in WWE or heavyweight boxing, basketball or baseball. Even when IT4 was killing it, he never had the star power of dozens of other NBA players despite being about as everyman as you get (at least in terms of height).

Someone mentioned Ball's IG count, and I think that gets closer to why Trout and other baseball players have less cache now - there's really no pop culture overlap. Ball hangs out with rappers and appears in their songs. There's really no hip hop or pop culture overlap with baseball. You also have to put in work to be a celebrity - it's a lot of posting, and picture taking and going out and marketing yourself. Didn't Trout marry his high school sweetheart? He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who wants to go to 1Oak at 2AM and pose with Drake.

Isn't this, in a lot of ways, the same as Williams v DiMaggio or Russell v Wilt? The guy out on the town and in the public eye is always going to be more popular. Hell, even Tom Brady, who married the world's biggest supermodel and won a bunch of Super Bowls, was hardly a pop culture force until he started working on his social media game.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
4,498
Boston, MA
You are talking about times when there was no television, radio broadcasts were sometimes based on telegraph reports from people at the park, and newspapers. But unless you lived in a town close to the game, you probably wouldn't get an immediate report of the event. What you might get were things like The Sporting Life or the Sporting News (the latter covering only mostly baseball). Also, companies like Reach and Spalding and later The Sporting News put out yearly books containing stats and standing (major and minor league), photos, drawings, the year's rules, etc. You could get these things by mail and as a result, fans developed a familiarity with players. And in regard to this, a shortstop, say, has a more recognizable statistical face than does, say, a right guard.
This is exactly why baseball stars could be bigger in the days before complete TV coverage. If you only followed the game by newspaper stories or magazines or baseball cards, then the fact that a superstar in baseball is only recognizable over a large sample of games doesn't matter. If a kid today hears Mike Trout is coming to town and his family pays $250 for a set of four grandstand tickets, there's a very good chance he's going to come away disappointed.

The "recent" exception was Ken Griffey, but what's the image everyone has of him? Hat backwards taking BP. If you showed up when the Mariners were in town and watched BP, you were guaranteed a show. Same with McGwire and Sosa. They were putting on shows and basically hitting homers every other game.

It's not impossible for a baseball player to become a megastar, but it does take media crossover and lots of World Series appearances, which means they probably have to play for the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, or Red Sox.