Rob Manfred puts Mike Trout's lack of popularity on Mike Trout's shoulders.
1. Few would argue that Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. Unfortunatley, that's a problem for Major League Baseball because Trout's Q rating is pretty much non-existent.
This is not a revelation. Trout has been dominating the sport for a long time and his popularity has never increased. What makes this notable now is that even the sports' commissioner seems frustrated by not being able to market his best commodity. Here's what Rob Manfred said prior to the All-Star Game on Tuesday:
"Player marketing requires one thing for sure—the player. You cannot market a player passively. You can't market anything passively. You need people to engage with those to whom you are trying to market in order to have effective marketing. We are very interested in having our players more engaged and having higher-profile players and helping our players develop their individual brand. But that involves the player being actively engaged."
Mike's a great, great player and a really nice person, but he's made certain decisions about what he wants to do and what he doesn't want to do, and how he wants to spend his free time and how he doesn't want to spend his free time. That's up to him. If he wants to engage and be more active in that area, I think we could help him make his brand really, really big. But he has to make a decision that he's prepared to engage in that area. It takes time and effort."
Here's the dilemma for Manfred, a sport which would be helped by drawing younger fans and basically anyone who likes baseball: There is absolutely nothing wrong with Trout not wanting to market himself.
He's not obligated to "build his brand" on social media, or play video games with Conan, or do a bit for Fallon to see if people on the street can recognize him.
You also can't fault Trout for not having a dynamic personality. That is not meant to be a disrespectful comment. That is not a knock. Not everyone has a personality that draws people in. Not everybody is Joel Embiid or Rob Gronkowski. Not every athlete can use Twitter to show off their sense of humor, like Brandon McCarthy or Chris Long or Roberto Luongo.
Trout has tweeted more than 5,000 times and there's basically nothing there. All we know about him is that he has a weather fetish. Again, this is not criticism. This is reality. On the flip side, Trout seems like an extremely nice person, does charity work, is never in trouble. This is ultimately what's important and what matters in the real world.
However, he's also part of the sports world. And unfortunately, the other reality is that MLB gets no juice from its best player. No buzz. Nothing they can promote. Nothing to draw the fringe fan in, something LeBron will do in the NBA and Tom Brady will do in the NFL.
For the commissioner to actually admit this and be so frank about it is quite amazing and tells you how much this is a problem for baseball.
2. With Hulk Hogan getting reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame after getting banned for three years because of racist views exposed on a sex tape made with his best friend's wife, the WWE's black superstars have been repeatedly asked to comment on the situation. Kofi Kingston, who is part of the popular and hilarious New Day group, released this statement last night and it's a must-read thanks to its brutal honesty.
3. The highlight of the MLB All-Star Game was Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon quoting Michael Scott while being interviewed by Joe Buck.
4. Maybe it's time we have players interview other players about breaking news so we can get honest, unfiltered answers like this one.
5. This is a really bad Tweet, Part 1.
No, actually this is the worst week in sports and the ESPYs are not a real thing.
6. This is a really bad Tweet (and story), Part 2.
It's 2018. Young people don't watch TV. Everyone streams. The video below from Cohen's debut episode has more than 11 million views as of this writing. To ignore that is absurd.
7. This week's SI Media Podcast features an interview with ESPN icon Chris Berman. The man known as "Boomer" talks about how his first season in 31 years without hosting NFL Countdown went, the legacy of NFL Primetime, which he co-hosted with Tom Jackson, whether or not Primetime would work today, the various criticisms he's faced throughout his career, being told he can't use his famous nicknames by an ESPN producer and much more. You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes.
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