Dating baseball players
I think that gets lost in a lot of organizations, where it's just so old school -- and 'this is how we do it here, and it's either my way or the highway' -- which doesn't work for everybody.
You're not getting the most out of the person because you're not letting the person be himself."The Cubs think otherwise.
And it's been less about the individual players."Tellem sees that approach beginning to change. But in a star-driven society, he said, it can't shift gears fast enough."Baseball is at a point now where they have to reach the youth of America," he says. But it's about using stars and developing stars and helping them become bigger names, as a way of reaching the youth. They occupy a space in their sport that Jeter and Big Papi once occupied in baseball -- megastars who have been around forever, won their rings and transcended not just their market but their entire sport. Bryant, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Noah Syndergaard and Kyle Schwarber are all 26 or younger. Name things Albert Pujols did or A-Rod did that approach that. There's a camera in Le Bron's face every minute of every game. In the NBA, Le Bron speaks regularly for himself, for his team, for his sport, even for his generation, because he has been conditioned to the reality that it's part of the gig. As a local attraction, the cash registers are ringing nearly everywhere. But as a sport, as a national presence, baseball also needs icons.
And baseball has to see that convincing [those stars] and having them participate will serve the game."Let's take a step back and recognize that at least part of this is cyclical. But once Jeter and Ortiz (and even Alex Rodriguez) spun out the revolving door, was there baseball player ready to take their place? Unless you're a pitcher, how much is the camera on any baseball player? "The point is that the faces of football and basketball have built-in star power that no active baseball player has right now. But baseball players have never been expected to take on that responsibility."We're at a point now where the younger stars coming up have to be groomed that way," one baseball official says. There is more to producing those icons than just sitting back and waiting for them to arise organically."Baseball has got a group of young players who I think are the next generation," Tellem says.
He's the only name on the list -- in any sport -- who hasn't appeared in a game for more than eight decades. The first active player who shows up on this list is Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo at No. So the still totally retired Michael Jordan ranked as America's favorite basketball player (and favorite any kind of player, for that matter).
The Hit King last played in the big leagues 31 years ago -- and he has been suspended from his sport for the last 28. America's three favorite baseball figures: Guys who have been dodging the box scores for a combined 116 years. In baseball's defense, respondents were invited to name either active retired athletes.
And by proving they could do that and still win, they're teaching the rest of their sport a vital lesson."No doubt about that," says Ross, an admittedly far-from-objective witness.
Now it's a different world, and you have a team that did something extraordinary ... And now everybody wants to emulate it."But what makes the Cubs a potentially powerhouse Face of Baseball ensemble is more than talent, more than just those curses they busted, more than the monstrous TV ratings they put up last October.
What is so compelling about the Cubs is that they project such a different vibe than pretty much every other team in the game.
And then there's this: Mike Trout has no interest in being baseball's Le Bron. But in the sports marketing community, he is viewed as a guy who owes it to his employers to do more to promote the game."If you're signing this big contract and you're benefiting, you have to try to grow the game," says Bill Sutton, director of the Sports and Entertainment Management MBA program at the University of South Florida. The Cubs' third baseman has fielded the last out of a fairly memorable World Series. And he just turned 25."I feel like he going to be the Face of Baseball," says his 2016 Cubs teammate David Ross, "because he already is that perfect. You know sometimes when you're on a plane during the season, you like to complain, right? Give me a break."Every arrow around Bryant is pointing up, including the polling data this winter, which places him as the most popular player in the game among both general baseball fans and "avid" fans.
The pride of Millville, New Jersey, is a simple guy, consumed by his devotion to baseball and a set routine. His looks and personality are straight out of a Hollywood casting call. Or you're like, 'I can't believe we're waiting through this rain delay.' And Kris chimes in like, 'I'm just happy I get to play baseball for a living.' And you're like, 'Shut up, dude. But he also plays for a team with a ton of charismatic faces around him.The most popular active player in the NFL is Tom Brady. In baseball, you hear that phrase "period of transition" a lot. And MLB and the players' association have been talking for months about new ways to use players to promote the game. "But one problem is, they're not known as well because they haven't come out of their markets.With time, with enough October glory, with the right star-making moments, any of those names above could be the next Face of Baseball. The union is committed, says its chief of business affairs, Tim Slavin, to helping the sport market baseball "around the individuality and personality of the players." That has to happen, said union head Tony Clark, because "we've got a special group of players, as special as any we've had in a long time.""We have veterans," Clark says. Baseball is more local, so they haven't been exposed nationally like basketball players.So he has regularly turned down invitations to do late-night talk shows and major national endorsement gigs, not to mention home run derbies and the World Baseball Classic. You make me sick.'"He's just this golden child when it comes to his mindset. Anybody want to nominate the entire Cubs franchise as the next Face of Baseball?