Less than a month ago, if someone were to ask for a list of NBA players who might be capable of dominating headlines and capturing the hearts of new fans like Tim Tebow did for the NFL this past season, we would have offered up a handful names, but no one would have considered mentioning Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.
I guess that’s why this is such a fun story for so many people. The element of surprise coupled with an underdog rapidly rising to prominence can’t miss in winning the attention of the casual fan, or new fans altogether.
Will Major League Baseball be as lucky? Only the likes of Gandalf knows the true answer to that, so compiled below is simply a stab at some possible Tim Tebow/Jeremy Lin candidates for the upcoming MLB season. This was done so without the assistance of operations research and financial engineering wizard, Ross Ohlendorf.
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals — Yes, he’s been an established name for awhile but over the past several seasons he’s mostly been known for being injured, sporting neg-burns, whining about the media, or a grand mix of all three. With the gigantic ditch in the road left by Cardinals legend Albert Pujols, a massive resurgence from Beltran in front of “baseball’s greatest fans” could be a huge feel-good story in St. Louis. Throw in a few inside-the-park grand slams and perhaps he rivals the buzz of Lin or Tebow.
Shawn Haviland, A’s — Haviland isn’t in the majors just yet but the 26-year-old starter went to Harvard and believes “Slapshot” is the greatest sports movie of all time. That information alone makes him deserving of a call-up from Billy Beane and widespread celebration from the sports media.
Buster Posey, Giants — The 24-year-old catcher is antsy to get back on the field after missing 117 games last season due to a brutal ankle injury. Remember his ankle? Gross. Plus, he’s the All-American, grounded young man who married his high school sweetheart. The media would eat up a monster season from Posey like a towering chocolate sundae.
Logan Morrison, Marlins — Logan Morrison is the Twitter king among Major League Baseball players and possibly all athletes thanks to a splendid mix of humor and candor. If the inventive outfielder can find a way to put it all together on the field this year he will be a massive star, and a provocative one at that. This would be an ideal turn of events.
Mike Napoli, Rangers — He’s a tubby, well-spoken fellow with a chin-stap beard, what’s not to like? In just 369 plate appearances last year he hit 30 home runs and had an OPS of 1.046. If Ron Washington were to give him more at-bats, the sky’s the limit for the likable underdog who experienced a monster postseason in 2011.
Craig Breslow, Diamondbacks — He’s already played six seasons in the majors and he’s only a relief pitcher, but he majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale and the Wall Street Journal coined him as “the smartest man in baseball.” Anything can happen.
Honorable Mention — Mets reliever and Spud Webb disciple, Daniel Herrera.
The biggest tragedy here is that David Eckstein’s career didn’t take off during the Twitter era. Between being the proud owner of a race car bed and showing hustle to the point of sprinting to first base on ball four — not to mention his stubble-impervious face — there’s little doubt he would have brought new fans to the game with each passing day while simultaneously earning the adoration of moms across the nation. Simply put, Little David Eckstein’s time on baseball’s main stage came far too early.
[Photo via US Presswire]