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- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made some odd comments about Angels outfielder Mike Trout over the All-Star break, regarding the superstar's popularity.
- The Angels responded in defense of Trout, highlighting the many ways that he serves as an ambassador of the game.
- Trout himself assured baseball fans that there was no beef between him and the commissioner, saying he merely wanted to get back to playing.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the Los Angeles Angels have engaged in a bizarre argument regarding Mike Trout's popularity over the All-Star break.
The debate started with some odd comments from the commissioner to USA Today.
"Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn't want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time," Manfred said in the hours before MLB's All-Star Game at Nationals Park. "I think we could help him make his brand very big.
"But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort."
It's not often you see a commissioner throw his sport's biggest star under the bus, but there was Manfred, essentially saying that it was Trout's fault that he, and in turn, the sport, were not as popular as they could be.
In the same USA Today piece, Trout spoke plainly about how he engages with marketing and promoting himself.
"I try to do as much as I can, but keep it to a point where I can still play baseball,” Trout said. "Obviously you want to get out there, but you've got to pick and choose, for sure."
Trout's understated response was fitting. He's been one of the best baseball players on the planet from the moment he got called up to the majors seven years ago — he does not have to be concerned with the prominence of his personality nationally unless he chooses to do so.
While the controversy might have ended there, the Angels jumped to their superstar's defense the next day, putting out a statement congratulating Trout on his performance in the All-Star Game that reads as a clear shot in response to the commissioner.
On behalf of the Angels Organization and baseball fans everywhere, congratulations to Mike Trout on another outstanding All-Star Game performance. Mike Trout is an exceptional ambassador for the game. Combined with his talent, his solid character creates a perfect role model for young people everywhere. Each year, Mike devotes a tremendous amount of his time and effort contributing to our organization and marketing Major League Baseball. He continually chooses to participate in the community, visiting hospitals, schools, and countless other charities. One of Mike's traits that people admire most is his humility. His brand is built upon generously spending his time engaging with fans, both at home and on the road, while remaining a remarkable baseball player and teammate. In addition, Mike spends quality time as a husband, son brother, uncle, and friend. We applaud him for prioritizing his personal values over commercial self-promotion. That is rare in today's society and stands out as much as his extraordinary talent.
Trout would later put out a statement of his own, in which he assured the baseball world that there was no beef between him and the commissioner, and he'd just like to get back to the game.
"I have received lots of questions about Commissioner Manfred’s recent statement. I am not a petty guy and would really encourage everyone to just move forward. Everything is cool between the Commissioner and myself. End of story. I am ready to just play some baseball!"
Mike Trout might not be as popular as the MLB would like him to be — the Washington Post recently noted his awareness amongst the general public was comparable to that of the NBA's Kenneth Faried, who was recently traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a salary dump.
But it's not Mike Trout's job to be a popular baseball player. It's simply his job to be a good one. And the numbers show that this year could be the best of any player in recent memory.
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