Major League Baseball has yet another online competition to keep eyeballs on their site during the slowest time of the offseason. This time corporate HQ has fans voting for which player should be the "Face of Baseball". Mike Trout is one of many stars of the game that are being bracketed against each other in NCAA-style matchups leading to one player being crowned as baseball's new face.
My gut says "Hell Yeah" but my head says "...ehhhh, maybe take a pass on this Trouty..."
I come to you as an Angels fan who was here before Arte Moreno and his marketing genius* cronies. Before the 2002 World Series championship. Before the 1999 Jim Edmonds/Mo Vaughn implosion, before the 1995 collapse, before Donnie Moore, Before October of 1982 and before Lyman Bostock in Chicago. So Trout is still an unimaginable godsend for which I pinch myself over almost daily. I appreciate him, you appreciate him, so understand when I tell you this: Being the FACE will not add to anyone else's appreciation of him.
There are a few benefits of Mike Trout winning this contest. Every time he does something awesome on the field, someone on the MLB channel can say "That's why he is the face of baseball" as they show the fifteenth replay of said amazing act. That is nice. You can shut up any idiot fan of another team in a bar by saying "Hey, he was voted MLB's face of the game". Shutting up slobbering fools in blue, pinstripes, chowd-baggage or green-n-gold is always a blast.
But are those benefits outweighed by other circumstances and purely practical considerations?
As the "Face of the Game" will the microscope on Trout be a little too harsh during any moments of failure? If a Walk-Off blast gets them cheering "FACE" then pulling a Mighty Casey, even in a midweek game in May, might get a sportswriter braintrust* * to pump put the "Is being the FACE too much pressure" articles. I believe Trout is a great enough player to withstand the coverage but it will be quite annoying to sit thru as a fan of the team and the player.
This whole Face of the Game nonsense has arisen because of the retirement of Derek Jeter, a player whose career achievements saw him reach heights almost as great as Craig Biggio. But being in New York of course magnified his above average-ness into godlike status. So whoever wins the FACE crown will be immediately put into a battle of Jeter comparisons. It is unwinnable because the media will never allow a negative of Jeter's to be brought into these measurements. No matter how great the FACE does, he will be reminded of all the rings that Jeter's team bought and it will be pointed out that the FACE never ran to cover home plate in a playoff game. It is a losing proposition to be this FACE guy, and all as a conspiracy to keep the Jeter brand* * * alive in the man-crush fantasies of east coast jocksniffing media dolts and other uninformed, incurious talking heads.
While the bandwagon fans will show up in ebbs and flows and some will be hot chicks (always a plus, especially if you bring binoculars to the game) rooting on the FACE, the stereotypes of Angels fans as not being "real fans" will dog us as long as the east coast maintains its central control of the media narrative. Having the FACE will thus be something that gets challenged in the media (read: petty east coast whiners) regularly. If attendance in Anaheim is not massive. If people leave the game early. If the television camera catches a beach ball (gasp) in the stands. Look for howls of "How can the FACE OF BASEBALL not be in a baseball town* * * *" that will become the subtext of many an editorial on any random slow news day.
So to recap: if Mike Trout is voted "Face of the Game"™ Angels fans will be subject to annoying panicked coverage of any simple failure on his part all season, every season. Meanwhile he himself will be unjustly compared to exaggerated (and imagined) Jeter greatness as we Angels fans will be mocked in the process as undeserving of Trout's presence.
Trout being the FACE will be like Kendrys Morales being the Ankle. No thanks. Corporate baseball marketers can and will hopefully be flagellating some other fanbase for not acting in accordance with the mysteries of Saint Jeter. Angels fans would be blessed to root on Mike Trout in peace and quiet.
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* - Buttercup-drenched sarcasm intended.
* * - oxymoron, intentional.
* * * - minus giftbaskets.
* * * * - existence of a "baseball town" is more fanciful mythology than anything Tolkien ever wrote.