There has been a growing question around baseball lately asking why some of the game’s best players aren’t globally recognized superstars. Sports fans around the world can recognize LeBron James or Tom Brady or Conor McGregor or Tiger Woods. For reason, though, a guy like Mike Trout — who is currently in the middle of having one of the historically all-time great seasons ever — never gets a mention alongside those other guys.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about it over the All-Star break, and whether the league itself needed to take some responsibility for not properly marketing their best player(s). Manfred got his back up a little, and basically passed the blame onto Trout for not wanting to take the time to shoot commercials or sign sponsorship deals.
“Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn’t want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time,” Manfred said according to USA Today. “I think we could help him make his brand very big. But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort.”
The Angels were clearly a little perturbed by those words, because they released a statement of their own on Wednesday night, defending their star slugger by highlighting his charity work and his devotion to his family, and basically telling Manfred to stick it.
— Angels (@Angels) July 18, 2018
Does Trout’s personal brand suffer a bit because he plays on the West Coast instead of in Boston or New York? Sure. Does it suffer because the Angels haven’t been able to surround Trout with a team capable of making regular playoff appearances? Sure. Does it suffer because Trout chooses not to shoot monthly Nike commercials or make time for photoshoots/public appearances/signing sessions/etc? Sure.
Are any of those things really Trout’s fault? No.
Mike Trout’s job is the play baseball for the Los Angeles Angels, and it’s a job he is exceptionally great at. Take a look at any of numbers and it’s quickly evident that he may end up being the greatest player of all-time by the time he retires, and he’s only 26. Manfred and MLB have a golden ticket in the palm of their hands, and they can’t figure out how to elevate Trout to the status of a LeBron or a Brady or a Tiger.
In conclusion, Trout himself also weighed in on the “controversy” (if you can even call it that):
Statement from Mike Trout: pic.twitter.com/qM7h2SXoPB
— Angels (@Angels) July 19, 2018
Just let the man play baseball!