Moore: Derek Jeter and the end of the Face of Baseball

From Jack Moore at The Hardball Times on August 5, 2014:

In 1950, the Brand Names Foundation told its readers, “What faces do for you on people you meet… brand names do for you on products you buy.”

Derek Jeter‘s impending exit from the baseball stage has a number of people wringing their hands about the next “face of baseball.” Major League Baseball and its advertisers could not have found a better vessel than Jeter: he plays for the Yankees, a brand inextricably linked to excellence; he’s clean cut and conventionally attractive; and of course, he could play.

But most importantly, Jeter was the face of baseball because he was always on TV. His Yankees missed the playoffs once in two decades. He played in 15 All-Star games. In a media world preceding the explosion of the internet, Jeter was inescapable. Even as cable went from a luxury to a common amenity, Jeter’s face was a constant on SportsCenter and the rest of ESPN’s baseball programming.

This is perhaps the biggest change in baseball (and indeed all sports) over the past 15 years. The standardization of sports media has been disrupted by the internet. Many speak of the democratizing effects the internet has had on the press, an influence that should be obvious in sports. Consider just how impossible a site like Fox’s new Just A Bit Outside would have seemed five years ago: Rob Neyer, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus have managed to move onto the same stage as mainstream media figures like Ken Rosenthal, Jon Morosi and, of all people, Jeff Garlin.

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Originally published: August 5, 2014. Last Updated: August 5, 2014.