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Mike Trout: role model?

May 14, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

I guess we’re going there now. From the Philadelphia Daily News:

source:

The story is fine enough. One of many focusing on Trout’s return to the Philly area yesterday. It’s framed by a couple of interesting Raul Ibanez quotes. One in which Ibanez talks about how his own son took Trout’s lead on physical fitness more than his own dad’s — the hook for the idea that, sometimes, non-parental role models are necessary — and ends with Ibanez talking about Trout “respects the game” and respects lots of other things.

I obviously have no issue with Mike Trout — I’m a pretty big fan boy if you haven’t noticed — but I really wish we wouldn’t play the “role model” card with him or any other athletes. I have no reason to suspect there’s anything wrong with Trout, but if at any point he shows himself to be human and has a moment of human frailty or fault in the next, oh, 20 years or so, he’s going to be hit harder than he should be simply because some reporters decided that he was a good role model once.

I realize I’m always going to lose this fight — those people are always going to want autographs and will always put them on pedestals of one form or another — but I wish we could just let ballplayers be ballplayers.

  1. tbutler704 - May 14, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Look at those sycophantic losers.

    • yahmule - May 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      You’re just mad because they like him more than Bieber.

  2. Francisco (FC) - May 14, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    While I see where the role model situation can cause grief, autographs should be fine. They are for fans of the game celebrating what their favorite player achieves in the game. No one I know collects autographs because they think the person is some great human being that must be put high on a pedestal.

    For example, I think Mike Schmidt has been saying and writing some wacky stuff I disagree with over the last few years, he has strengths and flaws, but I would meet Mike in a heartbeat and if it’s the right time and venue ask for an autograph as a keepsake. I’m a fan, but that’s as far it goes.

  3. wingslax35 - May 14, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Craig’s just pissed someone from the Philly area is actually a respectable guy.

    • bigharold - May 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      Pissed or surprised?

  4. asimonetti88 - May 14, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Trout is a hard worker that puts in time in the community in Orange County. Seems like a good guy. Definitely my favorite player right now.

  5. yahmule - May 14, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    People are hilarious the way they overthink this kind of stuff. There’s nothing wrong with admiring a person for any number of reasons, as a child or as an adult. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity and it doesn’t have to be your parent. Somehow these (and schoolteacher) are presented as the only options in these imaginary dilemma. I had a classmate in high school who I admired and respected because of the way he lived his life. If anybody wants to judge me for that, they’re free to do so.

    If your child’s “role model” (oh my god, what a scary term, so fraught with implications!) takes a giant public pratfall, any decent parent turns it into a teachable moment with their children.

    You’re welcome. That will be twenty-five dollars.

    • raysfan1 - May 14, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Lucy Van Pelt only charges a nickel.

      • yahmule - May 14, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        Strangely, she gives pretty sound advice. This is odd because, by my layman’s diagnosis, she’s afflicted with oppositional defiant disorder, like, big time.

      • paperlions - May 14, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Plus, she takes walk-ins, which is nice.

  6. whlskey - May 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Couldn’t agree to disagree more.. As a child, I distinctly remember every Sunday sitting on the floor in front of my television with my Randall Cunningham jersey on watching every move that guy made on and off the field because I worshipped him more than anything or anyone else for that matter. He didn’t ask me to, or ask to be my role model, but that’s the beauty of being a child, you just don’t care what the rest of the world defines as a sufficient enough “role model.”

    These guys may not ask to be, want to be, or even consider their own selves as role models, but that’s just what they are and are going to continue to be for years to come for people everywhere, no matter the players age or how long he’s been in the league. If he does and says the right things both on and off the field (i.e. Mike Trout) why shouldn’t he be a called what he truly is, a Major League Baseball player “and” a role model to kids and adults whom love the sport of baseball all over the planet Earth.

    And we also have let ball players just be ball players before, and that turned out to be a dismal era for not just the MLB, but all of professional sports.

    • clemente2 - May 14, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      Dismal for whom? Only those living in a delusion.

  7. The Common Man - May 14, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    A role model for whom? The overgrown adolescents mobbing him? It’s sad how many adults are in that picture, squeezing out the few kids, and it’s those same adults who will turn on the next phenom who falls short of their idiotically idyllic expectations for young baseball players. Not to say that Mike Trout isn’t a great human being. He may very well be. But investing that kind of narrative in him is inviting disappointment, and it isn’t fair.

  8. mdpickles - May 14, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    You don’t say…Trout doesn’t flip his bat after a homer?

    • yahmule - May 14, 2014 at 10:51 AM

  9. bigharold - May 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    “… but if at any point he shows himself to be human and has a moment of human frailty or fault in the next, oh, 20 years or so, he’s going to be hit harder than he should be simply because some reporters decided that he was a good role model once.”

    Tough, it comes with the territory. Is it fair, yeah I think it is because:1 it is inevitable, 2, on some level he has to know this part of the deal being a MLB player, especially an exceptionally good one, 3, he’s being compensated rather handsomely for this “burden” that he worked so hard to attain.

    At one time even Trout considered players a role model. Complaining that it shouldn’t be so is like complaining that water is wet. It’s like ignoring reality. When my son was in little league I tired as hard as could, and at the same time trying not to be too pushy, to help him with his mechanics and his situational awareness. It got me nowhere and was in fact counter productive. On some level to my son it was just me barking at him about one more thing. I might as well been talking about his math homework and I’m sure to him it sounded like the horn noise of Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. But, when one of his buddies or his coach told him the exact same thing he’d immediately understand and use it. That is a part of parenting that gets overlooked, one needs to know when and how to deal with the outside influences and still be the primary influence.

    Also, part of the role model thing for younger kids is teaching them perspective. So, if Trout does display his human side, or any other player for that matter, that is when we learn that our role models are human and make mistakes just like us. That notion becomes apparent to all of us eventually. More importantly, we learn that mistakes almost always can be overcome. If a baseball “role model” teaches a kid that there is no shame in failing and that one can bounce back then I’m ok with the whole role model thing.

    Trout worked pretty hard to become a role model like it or not. Lamenting that it shouldn’t be is akin to complain that water is wet and the sky is blue. Besides most baseball fans grew up with “role models” of their own. Eventually we all get over it. Hell, one of my favorites growing up was Pete Rose. So it’s ok to find out your role model is Hunan.

  10. ashot - May 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    Not sure if this is what Craig meant, but the thing that bothers me about the role model topic is the media. The media builds the role model narratives through glowing articles like the one linked here. Later, when the athlete does what every other human in history (except Craig) has done, and makes a mistake, the media tears the athlete down. I’m not saying we should feel sorry for Trout or other athletes if/when this happens. However, I find the media’s behavior in this area to be rather self-serving and damaging. It’s also completely unnecessary for them to build up role models. As several commenters noted above, it’s perfectly natural for kids (or adults I suppose) to admire an athlete and want to emulate them. They don’t need the media to document who is an appropriate role model and why. In fact, most kids likely never read articles like the one linked here. I sure didn’t. Which goes to show that it’s just a self-serving media exercise in that it gives them cover for tearing the athlete down later (“hey we say good things about him/her, too.”)

  11. echech88 - May 14, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    More and more posts on HBT feel forced like Craig is mining for content where this none.

    This post really doesn’t say anything despite all the words I just read.

    If people want to look at 22 year old Mike Trout as something to aspire towards, who cares?

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 14, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      If people want to look at 22 year old Mike Trout as something to aspire towards, who cares?

      And what is going to happen to hypothetical you when Trout does something wrong? Do you say, meh he’s only human, and move on? Or do you write a scathing article about “how dare he do this! Think of the children!”

      See, I don’t think Craig is blaming kids for looking up to these players. As mentioned above, we all did it as children. It’s the adults who hold these players in such high esteem that the player can almost do nothing but fail. Then when said player does, we, as a society, tear that player apart.

      Why can’t we just look up to these guys as amazing ball players, and leave it at that? Why do we have to ascribe all these other ideas on them? Call them great people, for instance.

      • yahmule - May 14, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        Why do people like you have to see things as so black and white? Is it possible someone might like an athlete – or some other celebrity – more because they admire them as an individual? Do you ever wonder why more people liked Tony Gwynn than Dave Kingman? I mean, use a little common sense once in a while and stop trying to judge everybody who doesn’t use the exact terminology you find comfortable.

      • paperlions - May 14, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        People don’t admire Trout as an individual because they don’t know him as an individual. They admire him because of his other worldly baseball skill. Same with the Tony Gwynn example, sure, he’s probably a good guy, but it isn’t exceptionally good as a person, he was exceptionally good at baseball and probably about as good a person as your next door neighbor.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 14, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Why do people like you have to see things as so black and white?

        How is asking people to not ascribe qualities to an individual we know nothing about, seeing things in black and white? We don’t know anything about Trout as a person other than what’s been reported. Maybe he beats his wife? Maybe he does drugs? Maybe he cheats on his taxes? We don’t know any of this, but we want to start calling him a “hero” already?

  12. dj4900 - May 14, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Great player, great kid, and seems to be genuine. A real pleasure to watch. If he can stay in that class for a long and successful career like the true icons: Musial, Yaz, Mays, Molitor and a few other of the truly great ones that I apologize for omitting, he will have truly done something. My best wishes to him.

  13. yahmule - May 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    I sometimes hear this statement, always uttered with some degree of contempt: “No jerseys for me. I’m not wearing another man’s name on my back.”

    I mean, why not simply shout, “I’m projecting my massive inferiority complex on you people who are simply here enjoying a good time!”

  14. doctornature - May 14, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Trout never had a sophomore Jinx, but his Junior year so far is troubling.

    .270 .354 .513 .867

    OPS+ 143

    K’s 48/175 27%

    HR 7

    RBI 24

    Very good line for an average, good MLB player, but down significantly from Trout’s standards of the past 2 years, His strikeouts are way up and OBP down big-time.

    Meanwhile, here are Puig’s stats:

    .326 .417 .563 .980

    OPS+ 173

    K’s 31/158 20%

    HR 7

    RBI 30

    I don’t know why Trout has 2.3 WAR and Puig 1.7, because defensively I would rather have Puig (MUCH better arm, despite cutoff man problems) and has almost as much speed to cover ground,

    Trout’s K% is alarming, while Puig has been much more selective this year and his K% is going down.

    If both were rookies this year…with no MLB stats to reference…I would guess Puig would be picked before Trout in the majority of Fantasy Leagues.

    I hope Trout picks it back up and this is just a blip and not a trend. Baseball needs him. Puig is another story, but he is trending up in almost all categories that Trout is trending down in.

    It will be interesting to seethe year play out and which guy wins the stat war. SoCal is blessed to have these 2 to watch daily.

    • paperlions - May 14, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Trout’s defense >>> Puig’s defense

      Yes, Puig has a better arm, but Trout has much better range…much much better range, and differences in range matter more than difference in arm.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 14, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      I don’t know why Trout has 2.3 WAR and Puig 1.7,

      fWAR: Trout 2.3 and Puig 1.7

      fangraphs sees Puig as a below average base runner (-0.7 BSR) and average defender (0.2 DEF) while Trout is an average baserunner (0.4 BSR) and above average defender (7.3 DEF). Puig’s superiority in batting doesn’t make up for the difference between the two above stats and the position adjustment.

      Trout’s K% is alarming, while Puig has been much more selective this year and his K% is going down.

      ’12+’13 = 1355 PA = 20.3 K%
      ’14 = 175 PA = 27.4 K%

      Huge SSS issues here

      I hope Trout picks it back up and this is just a blip and not a trend. Baseball needs him

      Trout has 2.3 fWAR through 38 games. Over a full season that’s 9.8 fWAR. He’ll be fine

  15. doctornature - May 14, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Trout never had a sophomore Jinx, but his Junior year so far is troubling.

    .270 .354 .513 .867

    OPS+ 143

    K’s 48/175 27%

    HR 7

    RBI 24

    Very good line for an average, good MLB player, but down significantly from Trout’s standards of the past 2 years, His strikeouts are way up and OBP down big-time.

    Meanwhile, here are Puig’s stats:

    .326 .417 .563 .980

    OPS+ 173

    K’s 31/158 20%

    HR 7

    RBI 30

    I don’t know why Trout has 2.3 WAR and Puig 1.7, because defensively I would rather have Puig (MUCH better arm, despite cutoff man problems) and has almost as much speed to cover ground,

    Trout’s K% is alarming, while Puig has been much more selective this year and his K% is going down.

    If both were rookies this year…with no MLB stats to reference…I would guess Puig would be picked before Trout in the majority of Fantasy Leagues.

    I hope Trout picks it back up and this is just a blip and not a trend. Baseball needs him. Puig is another story, but he is trending up in almost all categories that Trout is trending down in.

    It will be interesting to seethe year play out and which guy wins the stat war. SoCal is blessed to have these 2 to watch daily.

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