Pop Quiz: Outside of Derek Jeter, name a superstar in Major League Baseball?
Of course there are star baseball players like Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols and David Ortiz. But outside of Jeter, how many players can non-baseball fans name? How many players truly transcend the sport? And how many players are being stalked by TMZ?
Alex Rodriguez might have been in that class for a while, but he has fallen off the radar. Josh Hamilton is to a certain extent because of his feel-good redemption story. But even these guys are not followed very closely outside of the baseball world.
The fact is, once Derek Jeter retires, baseball may lose its last superstar.
A quick look at the social media world seems to confirm this. According to Tweeting-Athletes.com, this is the number of athletes in each sport with at least one million followers on Twitter…
Nick Swisher? Every other athlete on that list is a bona fide superstar. And yet Nick Swisher is baseball’s most popular athlete on Twitter.
Let’s face it, baseball does not have any superstars outside of Jeter. But there might be some good reasons…
More Difficult For Players To Dominate Baseball
Fans today want instant gratification, and will gravitate towards athletes that dominate. And even though baseball has more one-on-one (pitcher vs hitter) action than the other major sports, there are fewer opportunities for the players to dominate, and failure is the norm.
In the NFL, a quarterback might throw 35 passes and a running back might touch the ball 25 times in a given game. And in basketball, the best players will take 20 shots per game. In baseball, the best hitters will get five at bats. And of those at bats, they will only get 1-2 hits, if they get any at all.
Lack Of A Salary Cap May Keep Fans From Getting To Know The Players
In this 24-hour social media and news cycle, fans want to know the players. And in a sport where salaries are for the most part only limited by supply and demand, teams may fear promoting their own players out of fear that it will make the players more popular, leading to increased salary demands.
But whatever the reasons, baseball is losing the battle of the superstars to the other sports. And that, more than anything else, is why they are also losing the battle for the attention of today’s kids.
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