Derek Jeter, Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Mike Trout, Buster Posey (I know, barf)… Eric Sogard? Lets play a game of which player doesn’t match the others, shall we? The first five players have been, or are presumed to be nominated by fans of their respective teams for MLB.com’s “Face of the Franchise” competition, which will ultimately name the face of MLB as a whole. Eric Sogard has inexplicably been named the face of the Oakland Athletics.
Oct 5, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Eric Sogard (28) during batting practice before game two of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Sogard has made quite a name for himself by virtue of his bad eyesight. His glasses spawned the “Nerd Power” movement, egged on by the fans in the right field bleachers, and made him something of a cult hero in Oakland. I have advocated that Sogard is nothing more than a useful utility man off the bench, but I’m apparently in the minority with that opinion. Sogard was given a chance to play every day against right handed pitchers, and didn’t embarrass himself, posting a .266/.322/.364 line with 24 doubles in 410 plate appearances. But he also didn’t take the second base position by storm, he essentially did just enough to stick around.
I’m not writing simply to rip into Eric Sogard, because I do believe he has a degree of use to the Athletics, but “Face of the Franchise”? I think not.
Upon hearing about this competition, I figured Yoenis Cespedes, or Coco Crisp, or Josh Donaldson would represent the A’s. Or perhaps even Jarrod Parker, or Sonny Gray could be considered. Not Eric Sogard.
The nomination of Sogard for this competition is not representative of a team that has won back to back division titles. The nomination of someone like Sogard is the type of thing the Houston Astros would do. A team that is in a deep rebuilding phase, a team where the fans are scraping the bottom of the barrel for anything to get excited about, a team the Oakland Athletics are not. Frankly, calling Sogard the “Face of the Franchise” is embarrassing, because a team with legitimate championship aspirations deserves so much better.
It’s not bad enough that the A’s have become a punchline around baseball for the oft sewage-soaked stadium they call home, or the poor attendance, or the fact that they can’t for the love of Rickey Henderson get out of the ALDS; they have to nominated a part-time player as the man to represent the entire organization. I may be wrong, but I don’t expect to see 50-foot banners hanging off the side of the O.co Coliseum with a picture of Eric Sogard slapping a single the other way on it in 2014. If I do see that, you’ll be able to read my mea culpa right here come April.
Bottom line, if the A’s, and their fans want to be treated like a championship caliber team, they need to start acting like one. People might think it’s cute, and funny to nominate Eric Sogard for this competition, and rest assured people are laughing. But, they aren’t laughing with us, they are simply laughing at us.