So far in this “Face of the Franchise” series, I’ve looked at the A.L. East (where I got killed for not picking Ted Williams to lead the Red Sox), and the A.L. Central (where I found out that Cleveland is still Bob Feller’s town.) Today we’ll head out west, to see whose face we associate with which franchise.
The Anaheim Angels should be an easy team to pick a face of the franchise for. The franchise isn’t that old, nor is it particularly storied. It should be Mike Trout, and there shouldn’t even be any competition. However, part of this debate takes in to consideration the expected longevity the Face will have if he is still active. As I wrote back in March, the Angels may have made a big mistake when they decided that Trout was only worth 4% over the major league minimum. Perhaps a big-money, long-term deal is in the works, and at that time, Trout becomes The Face. Until then, it’s Danny Glover. Yes, the actor. Yes, Angels In the Outfield. Yes, they really were known as the California Angels back then, and yes, only ‘angels’ or some other power could have helped the ’94 Angels win games (they finished the strike-shortened season in last place at 47-68.)
Next up is the Houston Astros, and their top two contenders are Cooperstown guys: Nolan Ryan and Craig Biggio. What? The HOF voters got cute and decided that Biggio wasn’t a first ballot kind of guy? I’m shocked*. Well, Biggio is a HOFer in my book, and soon enough, he’ll get the call to Cooperstown. I’m pretty sure that Ryan could still pitch a couple of times a week if he wanted to, and perhaps if he wasn’t part of the ownership group in Texas, I would name him here, too. (In the initial conversation I had about this topic, I did choose Ryan as the face of the Astros.) It might not be much consolation, but in a year that Biggio’s 3,000 plus hits couldn’t get him in to the Hall of Fame, they are enough to garner him the Houston Astros’ “Face of the Franchise” designation from me. That and a nickel will give him 5 cents.
The Oakland Athletics can trace their history all the way back to beginning of the American League in 1901. Of course, they played in Philadelphia at that time, and Connie Mack ran the show from top to bottom for half a century. He has to be in the running for the face of the franchise, simply on longevity. That’s some serious devotion. Reggie Jackson gets a thought, but he eventually moved on to the Yankees, and became “Mr. October” there, so his candidacy is short-lived. Ricky Henderson was always a favorite of mine, but I can’t see Ricky as the face. Right now, and for the last decade or so, I would say the face of the Athletics’ franchise has been GM Billy Beane, and Brad Pitt’s portrayal of him in Moneyball locks it down for Beane.
The Seattle Mariners Face of the Franchise could be taken care of in one word: Junior. Ken Griffey, Jr. saved baseball in Seattle, and he was the greatest MLB player in the 1990s, bar none. There might be those who try to make a case for Randy Johnson, or Jay Buhner, but it’s superfluous. The only other possible consideration might have been Ichiro, but that would only have been to play to the Japanese market. Ken Griffey, Jr. is the Seattle Mariners, now, and for always.
If the Texas Rangers had only remained in Washington, D.C., perhaps I could have made things right with fans of Ted Williams. The Splendid Splinter did guide the ‘new’ Washington Senators to their only winning season in Washington, but then the team moved to Arlington, and he retired from his post. There has been offensive firepower a-plenty with players such as Rueben Sierra, Dean Palmer, and Ivan Rodriguez passing through town, just to name a few. Michael Young’s name could be brought up in conversation, but as with the Mariners, there’s really only one choice: Nolan Ryan. True enough, he only spent 5 of his 26 full big league seasons as a player in Texas, but he did win his 300th game there, he also garnered his 5,000 strikeout in a Rangers’ uniform, and tacked on his 6th and 7th no-hitters to boot. To cap it off, he returned to the Rangers in 2008 as team president, before leading a successful bid to purchase the Rangers in 2009. The name of the group? The Ryan Express. Yeah, Nolan Ryan is the face of the franchise.
Even if none of the above was true, I haven’t forgot what a then-46 year old Nolan Ryan did to an in-his-prime Robin Ventura on August 4th, 1993. For those who don’t recall, or are perhaps too young to have seen it, this video is a must-watch. If you’re only interested in the best hits of the 6 minute plus video (it’s worth watching the whole thing to see how angry Gene Lamont gets when Ryan isn’t tossed, and for the Bo Jackson cameo) forward on to the 5:15 mark. Ryan grabs Ventura in a side headlock, lands four punches to the top of Ventura’s head, and then gets in a clean uppercut to Ventura’s chin before they’re dragged apart. Nolan Ryan may be 66 years old today, but I’d still wager he could whomp me if he felt like it. There’s no doubt he’s the face of the Rangers for as long as he chooses to be.
That’s how I see the West, who are your Faces of the Franchise on the left coast?
*Not really, though. I wrote about the HOF process for the first time on MTAF back in December of 2011. Voters haven’t got any smarter since then.
Let me know who you’ve got: