Dunlap: Who Is The Face Of The Pirates?

Colin Dunlap
August 29, 2018 - 6:04 am
Jameson Taillon

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- The Pirates have an identity problem. 

Who is the face of the franchise? Who is their go-to guy? 

Who is the man they march out --- front and center --- on billboards, in commercials, on promotional material and plaster all over the place to try to reattach a connection between the fan base and the organization. 

As much a 64-68 record and way-too-far-back-now place in the Wild Card standings is a problem with this franchise right now, pushing forward it would appear they have a branding problem. They have a "oh yes! That's our guy" problem. 

Simply, they don't have one. 

Because, as the Pirates try to propel into 2019, it would appear they haven't a face of the franchise; they have no man who plays the role of Mr. Pirate. 

You see, it was always a given in his run here that Andrew McCutchen could and would play that role for you. He was a striking and recognizable figure -- and it didn't hurt he was very good for much of his time on the North Shore. But when he left, a big portion of this team's identity and marketability went out the door. 

Many pointed to first baseman Josh Bell as the next face of the franchise. But he has underwhelmed this season, his play on the field never gaining the momentum it takes to become a fan favorite or really have a fan base rally around. 

No one knows who the middle infielders will be next season --- most likely a pair of rookies --- so they can't be the face of the franchise. In a way, Josh Harrison could be that man, but his contract status is in limbo and the safe bet is he is traded or bought out before the Pirates play one game in 2019. 

Colin Moran? It isn't in his nature. He probably says about 11 words a day. 

Corey Dickerson has a good chance to be back, but he isn't a striking enough personality to be a face of the franchise and both Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco have seen up and down play. On top of that, Marte and Polanco would be tough to lift to the top of ad campaigns and marketing ventures here in Pittsburgh because their first language is Spanish. 

Francisco Cervelli is an option as a face of this franchise, but in my opinion I think the fan base has cycled through him somewhat and younger fans don't identify with him much. In short, a guy with sexiness and charisma who sings "That's Amore" has been played out to a degree. 

Joe Musgrove? He's fiery for sure. But has he been here long enough?

Clint Hurdle? Not anymore. 

That would leave pitchers Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer as prime candidates. Taillon in the second half of the season has elevated his status to among one of the best in the division while, since being traded here, Archer has been a disappointment. Nonetheless, Archer quickly got involved in the community in Pittsburgh and said that he has plans to dive even deeper into community endeavors. In truth, he needs to pitch better to gain traction with the fan base because from a marketability and identity standpoint, he seems to have exactly what a professional franchise is looking for. Again, though, he needs to pitch better or none of that matters. 

As this season has reached the playing-out-the-string phase for the Pirates and they look forward to 2019, there is zero question they need to hitch up to a few players to attempt to reconnect with fans. I don't know if I have seen fan frustrations like this in quite some time --- it is bordering on apathy for many, and that is dangerous. 

Taillon and Archer might not be the answer totally, but they are the smart money moving forward through the winter and start of next season. If the Pirates want to have any chance of keeping the interest of fans, those are the two young men who need to be front and center. 

I guess, as it is now, they are the faces of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

 

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