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Friday, August 24, 2007

File it Under “No S*#t”: ESPN Names Grady Sizemore Face of the Franchise

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2007 at 6:01 PM

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We know – you’re shocked. Clearly, some of us wanted to believe that, deep down, our female fans really lusted for Shin-Soo Choo. So naturally we bit when ESPN posted findings from its Major League Baseball “Face of the Franchise” poll. We had to see for ourselves what this ragtag collection of writers, bloggers, and old pros, along with a poll of fandom at large, would decide. ESPN asked two of its own, Rob Neyer and Eric Young, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, and Ryan Richards of Let’s Go Tribe!, a popular team blog, to consider “skill, popularity, historical and future impact and a host of intangibles” in determining which member of the Tribe – current player, manager, executive, mascot, or symbol – best represented the team. All four and the fans picked Grady. Neyer’s analysis dug deepest (what do you expect from a guy who writes baseball books with stat-geek messiah Bill James?). He quoted Indians vice-president Bob DiBiasio on Grady’s meat-marketability: "Our female market demographic research showed there were 200 percent more women watching Indians games last season. Grady is the big reason." Then Neyer dropped a little-known genealogical nugget, which transcend both his stats and sex appeal:
And then there's this: When the Indians celebrated Jackie Robinson Day this spring, Sizemore wore No. 42. This might have surprised a lot of people, as very few "white" players chose to wear Robinson's number. Here's the thing, though: Sizemore's father is African-American. Just like Derek Jeter. Sizemore wants to encourage African-American kids to play baseball. It's not at all clear how that will work out. But the very idea of this (apparently) white superstar reaching out to black kids is more than a little intriguing.
That’s true, Rob. There are plenty of articles about the shrinking number of black players in baseball – the Tribe’s own C.C. Sabathia has become an advocate for black youth in the game. But right now, I want someone to tell me this: Who the hell is the face of the Browns? -- Jason Nedley

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