Baseball Isn’t Cool?
When I saw that â€œGQâ€ was publishing an article proclaiming the â€œ25 Coolest Athletes of All Timeâ€ I knew two guys would top the list: Joe Namath and Mario Andretti.Â Putting Namath on a list of cool athletes is like putting Bill Gates on a roster of rich people. Â Itâ€™s just instant.Â No thought required.Â The same with Andretti, who was as smooth and coolÂ – and talented â€“ behind the wheel as Namath was under center and in the limelight.
Namath hasnâ€™t played football in nearly 35 years and the only driving Andretti does these days is to the grocery store â€“ but Iâ€™m sure he does it well.Â So the sports world needs a new generation of cool.Â It also needs more cool baseball players.Â As certain as I was that Namath and Andretti would make the â€œGQâ€ roster of cool I was just as confident the list would be largely vacant of baseball players and, regrettably, I was right.
â€œGQâ€™sâ€ 25 coolest includes a grand total of two baseball players and only one of them is currently playing.Â OK, maybe two and-a-half baseball players.Â They are: Bob Gibson, Tim Lincecum and Bo Jackson.
Basketball topped the â€œGQâ€ list with five players â€“ Allen Iverson, Clyde Frazier, Pete Maravich, Julius Erving and Michael Jordan.Â Football comes in second with Namath, Tom Brady, Ken Stabler and Jim Brown.Â Tennis, golf and soccer each have two on the list.Â Why isnâ€™t baseball cool? Why arenâ€™t baseball players hip and rad?Â Do the kids even use those terms even more?Â Does â€œGQ?â€
There are more cool players in baseball today than just Lincecum.Â Look no further than the roster of Lincecumâ€™s World Series champion San Francisco Giants to find Brian Wilson, he of the freaky black beard and strange ways.Â As last weekâ€™s â€œSports Illustratedâ€ put it, Wilson is about â€œthree quarters nutsâ€ which, when combined with being one of the best relievers in baseball, has to make you pretty cool.
Sticking with guys with beards, letâ€™s consider outfielder Jayson Werth.Â Werthâ€™s beard has its own Twitter account (not set up by him) and Werth has been quoted as saying â€œIâ€™m happy to be ignored.â€Â I think thatâ€™s cool.Â Werth recently bolted the perennially powerful Philadelphia Phillies for the always-awful Washington Nationals.Â Is that cool?Â Itâ€™s bold (and worth about $126 million) and if Werth can help turn the Nats around he might qualify as one of the coolest guys around.
Does the American League have any cool guys?Â How about a vote for Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo?Â Choo has hit .300, exactly .300, the last two seasons and hit .309 in 2008.Â Heâ€™s also crafty.Â Choo led his native South Korea to a championship in the Asian Games last fall thus installing pride in his nation and allowing him to avoid military service.Â Is it cool to get out of the army?Â No.Â If some have to serve, all should have to serve.Â But one less guy with a gun is pretty cool.
Does baseball have to work harder to promote its cool players?Â Or does the game itself have to get cooler?Â Or does it really matter what â€œGQâ€ thinks?Â Maybe one way baseball can increase its cool factor is by emphasizing how hard the game really is.Â Does Fox Sports have the technology to put a camera in a baseball so fans can appreciate just how fast it moves?Â Let fans rediscover baseballâ€™s greatness and create more coolness.
How about more double-headers so the season can end before November and doesnâ€™t have to go head-to-head with the NFL for two months?Â Maybe the games, especially the postseason, should start earlier as well so fans â€“ especially kids â€“ can actually watch them and still get a decent nightâ€™s sleep.Â Make ballparks bigger because doubles and triples are cooler than home runs.Â Serve Coca-Cola at every ballpark.Â Cherry Coke, too.
None of these things sound Fonzie-like but they might be a start.Â Weâ€™re entombed right now in winterâ€™s cold but itâ€™s never too early to think of summerâ€™s cool.