Three of the four major American sports has a player that is the “face of the game.” But what exactly does that mean?
Essentially, it’s the player in each sport who comes to mind first when that sport or league is brought up in the topic of conversation. It should be someone who has achieved great success in their respective sport while maintaining a good standing with the fans.
Here’s are three major sports leagues and the player who is the face of the league:
NBA: LeBron James
NFL: Tom Brady
NHL: Sidney Crosby
LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Sidney Crosby have dominated their leagues for the last decade. Major League Baseball is different because not one single player has dominated the game from all aspects in quite some time. Some will argue that the league already has that in Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. But Harper and Trout both don’t play for a team that is popular on a national level.
But do you know who does play for a team that is nationally recognized? Rookie sensation Aaron Judge.
Judge plays for the Yankees, one of the few MLB teams with country-wide clout. The others are the Red Sox, Cubs, and the Dodgers.
Each of those four cities has employed superstar baseball players since the early days of baseball. The Red Sox had Ted Williams and David Ortiz. The Yankees had Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth, Micky Mantle, and Joe Dimaggio. The Cubs had Ernie Banks and Sammy Sosa. The Dodgers had Duke Snider and Sandy Koufax.
All of these players were once faces of the game, or at least had a brief stint as the man.
Jeter was once the face of baseball and it helped because he played for the Yankees. They were in the World Series multiple times, but playing under the bright lights of New York can make a player’s star shine brighter than the rest.
Okay, so he plays on the biggest stage in baseball, but is that the only thing that qualifies him to be anointed the face of the game? There are two more checkpoints on the list that he needs to go through to pass.
Super Hero Stature?
Judge’s proportions mirror the size of a bruising NFL tight end. The Bronx Bomber towers over the competition at 6-foot-7 and weighs in at 282 pounds.
His stature and power at the dish are unworldly, which is what attracts fans to focus in on his at-bats. Judge led the major leagues this season in average exit velocity at 95.6 mph. He also had the longest home run of the season recorded at 495 feet with an exit velocity of 118.6 mph.
ICYMI: Aaron Judge cranks a missile over the LF wall to help the Yanks advance to the ALDS pic.twitter.com/Cy9aFPvqoB
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 4, 2017
It’s a little early to judge this one (pun intended) but from the looks of it, this 25-year-old seems to be as humble as they come. His post-game interviews are cliché but it’s better than acting like a tool or putting on an act.
The kid also preaches a team mentality. After his horrendous series with Indians ended on Wednesday night, Judge talked about how it was still a team effort.
“We pick each other up,” Judge said. “I didn’t have my best series, but the most important thing is we’re going to Houston for ALCS.”
“I’m just missing my pitch. They didn’t make too many mistakes. But it’s not tough for me. I’ve been through this before. Everyone has. Guys were able to pick me up when I wasn’t able to get the job done.”
It really wasn’t a horrible series for Judge. He had a game-saving catch in Game 3 (easier when you’re 6’7) to rob a home run and a double that led to a big insurance run in Game 4.
— MLB (@MLB) October 9, 2017
Does he play on a national stage? Check. Does he look like a superhero? Check. Zero character flaws? Check.
It’s time to anoint Aaron Judge as the new face of the MLB.