When The Commissioner Of A League Thinks One Player Is The Key To Marketing The Sport, That Sport Might Have A Marketing Problem
I don't particularly want to get into a debate about whether or not Mike Trout owes it the league that employs him to step out of his comfort zone, as the mild-mannered masher and indomitable introvert that he is, to market a professional sport whose popularity is regional at best and dwindling at worst. That's mostly because the idea that he should feel obligated to participate in anything outside of 162 contracted games per season (not counting media availability and charitable endeavors) is patently absurd. However, it's also because turning the MLB's marketing issue into a one-on-one pissing contest between a single athlete and the person responsible for overseeing upwards of one thousand athletes tells you all you need to know about how narrow-minded Rob Manfred and Co. have been at solving it.
I get it. Based on what the transcendency of his talent calls for, Mike Trout's 'Q Score' might as well have graded out as an 'F'. The consensus best player in baseball being merely as recognizable to the general public as a NBA role player who is most known for his hairstyle at this point in his career is an awful, awful look for the MLB, and for that reason it absolutely had to be brought up to its foremost authority.
It's the targeted response from said authority, that loosely translates to "why don't you ask him why he's not more popular?", that I take umbrage with...
I'm sure the question referenced Mike Trout by name, but I find it quite worrisome that the person that it was asked of couldn't see that it was clearly hinting at a far broader phenomenon. Imagine Gary Bettman being pushed on the NHL's need for more goals after a low-scoring Penguins playoff game, and him responding by saying "Sidney Crosby is too pass-happy, what the hell do you want me to do about it?". If hockey isn't your thing then picture Adam Silver taking a question about parity in the NBA that invokes the Warriors' dominance as an example and him slamming a cupcake on the table with candles that read 'KD' sticking out of the icing and walking off stage. Pointing a finger at the one specific guy that's indifferent about the camera being pointed at him is ironic, but the implication that the Angels' outfielder, as incredible as he may be, is the end-all and be-all of baseball players whose playing style could prove profitable if advertised properly is nothing short of moronic.
I suppose it would be cool if Mike Trout had both a vibrant personality and a desire to put it on display on a daily basis, but him not wanting to singlehandedly take on the task of growing the game doesn't let the people whose actual job it is to do so off the hook. Get the asses in the seats and he'll do his best to keep him there, but if orchestrating dog-and-pony shows is a stipulation in anyone's contract then it's that of the person who swung and completely missed the point by making a league-wide problem personal.