A final word on Joe Morgan

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I started the day with Joe Morgan, so I’ll end the day with Joe Morgan.

I think I’m in the distinct minority in not really celebrating his departure from ESPN. I can live with that. I belong to a lot of distinct minorities. People who like Dylan’s signing voice for its own sake. People who prefer “Next Generation” to the Original Series. People who have had restraining orders issued against them for excessive handsomeness. It just goes with the territory of being a well-rounded gentleman.

But I can’t ignore the dissenting voices. The loudest and most effective of which on the subject of Joe Morgan came five years ago when Tommy Craggs wrote the definitive piece on what Morgan has become and what he means to the state of broadcasting and baseball thought.  If you haven’t read it, by all means, take the time, as it’s still relevant, if not for Morgan himself, but for his many like-minded cohorts in the biz. The only dissent I’ll offer is that, while everything Craggs writes is correct and important to our consideration about the man, it’s entirely possible to not to know any of that stuff and not have it affect our baseball watching one iota.  I know that’s an odd claim coming from me given that I go meta on the media and overanalzye everything, but it’s how I feel. Maybe it’s caused by lingering affection for some old Joe Morgan cards. I can’t say.

Finally, when you’re done with Craggs’ piece — or better yet, before you jump into it because it’s long and you’ll want more context — read Emma Span’s take over at Bronx Banter. I think she frames the matter perfectly. The upshot: in a perverse way, we needed Joe Morgan to come into our living room on Sunday nights like the Batman needs Joker.  He completes us. We need him on that wall, etc.

Now: who has dibs on “Fire Orel Hershiser?”  Because I smell a blogging opportunity!

Report: Mike Trout as recognizable to Americans as NBA’s Kenneth Faried

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On Monday, the Washington Post cited Q Scores, a firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, with regard to Angels outfielder Mike Trout. According to Q Scores, Trout is as recognized to Americans as NBA forward Kenneth Faried, who has spent seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets and is now a reserve with the Brooklyn Nets. Trout’s score was 22, which means just over one in five Americans know who he is.

We have talked here at various times about Trout’s lack of marketability. He has expressed zero interest in being marketed as the face of baseball. Additionally, based on the nature of the sport, it’s harder for baseball to aggressively market its stars since star players don’t impact teams the same way they do in other sports. LeBron James, for example, carries whatever team he’s on to the NBA Finals. James has appeared in the NBA Finals every year dating back to 2011. Trout, despite being far and away the best active player in baseball and one of the best players of all time, has only reached the postseason once, in 2014 when his Angels were swept in the ALDS by the Royals. Trout can’t carry his team to the playoffs and his team hasn’t helped him any in getting there on a regular basis.

Baseball is also more of a regional sport. Fans follow their local team, of course, and don’t really venture beyond that even though games are broadcast nationally throughout the week. The NFL schedule is much shorter and occurs once a week, so fans put aside time to watch not just their favorite team’s game, but other games of interest as well. A June game between the subpar White Sox and Tigers doesn’t have much appeal to it since it’s one of 162 games for both teams, and both teams will play again later in the season. Comparatively, a game between the Bears and Lions has more intrigue since they only play twice a year.

It’s kind of a shame for baseball that Trout isn’t bigger than he is because he is a once-in-a-generation talent, like Ken Griffey Jr. In fact, Trout is so good that he’s still underrated. He’s on pace to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, going by Wins Above Replacement. Despite that, he’s anything but a lock to win the MVP Award at season’s end because the narratives around other players, like Mookie Betts, are more compelling.

Trout’s marketability is an issue that isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. Trout is who he is and forcing him to ham it up for the cameras would come off as forced and unnatural. Major League Baseball will simply have to hope its other stars, like Betts and Bryce Harper, can help broaden the appeal of the sport.