Here is a link to my Friday column about Eric Sogard. The full text appears below:
PHOENIX — This is about a special face. This is about the Face of Baseball, or Face of MLB, as Major League Baseball is calling its contest open to fan voting on Twitter. This is about the face of A’s second baseman Eric Sogard.
Sogard currently is in first place in the MLB Face faceoff with 51 percent of the vote. Mets’ third baseman David Wright is second with 49 percent, which means Sogard is beating New York. But with a contest this volatile and controversial, with such wide-ranging implications, the percentages may have changed after I filed my column.
Sogard already has defeated in face-to-face competition — faced down? — superstars Buster Posey, Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki. All of them lost face to the face of Sogard. Blown out of the water.
What a face!
“It’s been Twitter madness,” Sogard told the Rise Guys on 95.7. “It’s hilarious. I love it.”
What is the Sogard face?
Well, if you didn’t know Sogard is a baseball player — he sure doesn’t look like one — you might think he has the face of a high school chemistry teacher, a cost accountant, an insurance salesman, a checkout clerk at Barnes and Noble, an ice cream man, an orthodontist, a shoe salesman, a child psychologist, an athletic trainer (which he studied to be at Arizona State), an Episcopal minister (I have no idea if he’s Episcopalian), an elf, a pixie and a leprechaun.
Me, I’m going with elf, pixie, leprechaun.
I love Eric Sogard’s face. People all over America love his face.
Asked what about his face makes it the potential face of baseball, he said with a smile, “Could it be my glasses?”
And he’s right. It’s the glasses. I swear it’s the glasses. They aren’t your regular glasses. They are headlights. They are glasses that proudly announce, “I am a nerd.” Along with the glasses, Sogard has the kindest, most innocent smile. You want to protect him. You want to bring him home for milk and cookies.
When you choose the face of baseball, you don’t want the Posey face. It’s too obvious. Posey Shmosey. You want the face of Everyman, the face of you and me. You want the Sogard face. Fans show up in spring training carrying “Nerd Power” signs and wearing Sogard glasses. A nerd army. Baseball as nerd.
Please go online and vote for Sogard for the face of baseball.
The A’s list him at 5-feet-10, 188 pounds. I stood talking to him recently and I don’t think he’s 5’10”, 188 pounds. He’s smaller. He looks like the kid brother of one of the A’s — say, Brandon Moss’ kid brother. You want to say, “Eric, can you get me a Coke?”
But, of course, you don’t because he is a real big leaguer. And get this, although he may soon be named the face of baseball, he’s in a three-way battle with Nick Punto and Alberto Callaspo to play second base. Can you imagine if the face of baseball doesn’t make the A’s 25-man roster? Somebody ought to pass a law.
When I asked Sogard about the battle, his twinkly eyes lit up. “It’s nothing new to me,” he said grinning. “It’s kind of how my spring has been the last few years. Last year, there were probably five guys that were in that battle for second base. I don’t worry about anyone else, just go about my own game and have fun doing it. I’m probably in a more comfortable position than I have been in the past.”
“What are your virtues as a player?” I asked. “What do you do well?”
“I’m a scrappy guy,” he said scrappily. “I may not be a huge power guy (two homers last season) or put up huge numbers, but I do all the little things well. I play hard, have consistency to my play. I play defense well.”
“Are you tough on the double play?”
“Absolutely.” Sogard said with pride. “That’s one thing I was very proud of last year. I didn’t really get taken out once and I was able to turn basically every ball that came my way. I’m not afraid.”
Now, it was time to get serious. “I look at you,” I said, “I think teacher, something like that. Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and think you don’t look like a baseball player?”
It’s a question that could offend a person. Not Sogard. “I see myself as a ballplayer. That’s in my head. I know that’s what I am. I can see that. There are these physical-specimen guys. I’m not quite as tall as them or as big as them and I do wear glasses so, obviously, that puts me apart. But I’m a ballplayer all the way.”
“Why don’t you wear contacts?” I asked. “You look like Clark Kent.”
“I’ve heard that.” He laughed.
I imagined him running into a phone booth (not that phone booths exist anymore) and ripping off his glasses and ordinary clothes and emerging as Yoenis Cespedes.
“I started wearing glasses when I was 15,” he said. “I tried contacts, but I never saw as well as I did with glasses. I would wear my contacts for school. After school, baseball practice would start and I would get my glasses on. I could see so much better with my glasses.”
It turns out the entire baseball world knows about Sogard, knew about him last year. Wherever he played on the road, fans would call him Harry Potter. “I’m used to it. I enjoy it,” said Harry Potter, I mean Sogard. Think orphan brought up by Muggles. Think cloak of invisibility. Think wizard.
He giggled. He was into it now. “Last spring training, I got on first base and Todd Helton was there and he goes, ‘Ah, the librarian.’ I just started laughing.”
Forget librarian. Forget the Dewey Decimal System. We’re talking The Face of Baseball.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.