The concept of the Fame Audit was first pioneered by the fine website Fametracker.com during the early part of the last decade. With Fame Tracker lying dormant for the better part of 4 years (well beyond the internet statute of limitations of 20 minutes), we here at Getting Blanked thought it might be a hoot to re-purpose the Fame Audit and apply it to baseball players.
Who is more famous than his playing ability deserves? Who isn’t famous enough? Why might a given player lag behind/receive undue fame? How many Derek Jeter insults can we slip into each post? Today’s subject is Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista.
George Foster hit 52 home runs for the 1977 Cincinnati Reds, a jump of 23 from his previous season and career high. Foster started his career in San Francisco but found a home in Cincy, putting together two solid seasons before breaking out during the expansion year. Nobody else was able to duplicate this round numbered feat for another 14 years.
George Foster was famous for the time between 1977 and 1991, when Cecil Fielder became the first guy to hit 50 home runs and stood-in as the go-to reference as the last guy to hit 50 before everybody starting doing it. George Foster is not famous. Cecil Fielder is mildly infamous.
Jose Bautista’s story is quite unlike either of these players because Jose Bautista’s story is unlike any other player’s story. There are similar stories in terms of older, well-traveled players getting their first shot at regular playing time, but very few take that ball and run with it quite like Jose Bautista did in 2010.
Jose Bautista grew quite famous in 2010 thanks to his spectacular home run swing and glowing report after glowing report of Jose Bautista’s humility and leadership. The middle-class kid from the D.R. with dedication to his craft and a foothold in both sides of the (typically divided by language) clubhouse.
Blue Jays fans love Bautista. LOVE him. His swagger certainly attracted attention during another futile/successful Blue Jays season, giving fans something to cheer about even if it didn’t translate at the ticket window. Bautista’s jersey does not rank among the top 15 sellers in baseball and he barely ranked as a first round fantasy pick.
For many baseball fans, the jury remains out on Jose Bautista. Casual fans remain wary of one year phenoms, especially in the current age of assumed steroid guilt. Bautista patiently passed every test and fielded every inane question with class and tact. Too bad steroid allegations don’t make you famous. If anything, they cause non-baseball fans to tune out as they don’t need help assuming all sluggers are drugged up fools.
Perversely, the best thing Jose Bautista can do for his fame is flame out. Live forever as a flash in the pan, carry the notoriety with him to Brady Anderson’s house for Leap Year Day parties. Another solid season moves him from lightning in a bottle to just another faceless slugger.
Not many Blue Jays fans or baseball watchers think it is going to happen. Bautista won’t hit 50 home runs again but his batting eye and versatility in the field make him a valuable contributor. His leadership and maturity make him the current face of the franchise. Too bad there are many guys just like that in baseball right now. Only a select few get to be Icarus.
Fame Assets: Phenomenal swag. Bilingual eloquence. Intense and varied facial hair attack. Statistically noteworthy achievement. Underdog backstory.
Fame Deterrents: Plucked from obscurity. Still toils in relative obscurity. General public’s general cynicism. Nearly impossible act to follow.
Current level of fame: Brady Anderson
Deserved level of fame: Mark Fidrych
Bonus! Potential future fame level: A Canadian version of David Ortiz.
Nana Index (number of nanas, out of 100, who could offer a working definition of Jose Bautista): 18.