Last weekend during Winter Warm-Up, I listened to several media members quiz various St. Louis Cardinals players as to who they felt would become the new “face of the franchise” now that Albert Pujols (and Tony La Russa) have departed.
I want to be clear that I have never heard anyone even remotely connected to the team mention the phrase “face of the franchise,” even in jest. Yet some writers obviously came in with this idea firmly planted in their heads and sure enough, they followed through.
Do a Google search on the term and you will find half a dozen articles from the last few days about this very subject. I am not listing them here, as I don’t want to single one out. They are all pretty much the same other than drawing different conclusions as to the eventual winner, perhaps.
It does provide a safe vehicle to create a laundry list of “candidates” and string some quotes together during a very dry period for real news, but that is about it. No, here is how I really feel. I thought the concept was stupid then and actually felt a bit uncomfortable for the players when the questions were being asked. After reading a few of the articles, I feel even more strongly now.
If there is such a thing as a face of any franchise, it has to be earned on the field, and hopefully off as well. Leadership isn’t something that is proclaimed by a teammate or worse, a writer.
After all, this isn’t the Pittsburgh Pirates we are talking about here, a team that hasn’t had a winning record in 19 years. This is a proven, consistent winner. If you want a face, how about using the 2011 World Championship trophy?
If a true leader of the St. Louis Cardinals emerges down the road, it happens. If it doesn’t, as long as the team continues to win, who really cares?