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Oakland A’s ‘Nerd’ Eric Sogard Falls Short in ‘Face of MLB’ Final

| February 28, 2014
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Oakland A's infielder Eric Sogard, the face that sunk Buster Posey. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Oakland A’s infielder Eric Sogard, the face that sunk Buster Posey. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

6:50 a.m. Friday: Well, the results are in, and in the end Oakland A’s fans could not out-tweet New York Mets partisans in the “Face of Major League Baseball” fan poll. Mets third baseman David Wright, who we concede has got a pretty good face, prevailed over A’s second baseman Eric Sogard, the glasses-wearing avatar of Nerd Power at the Oakland Coliseum. Our analysts are still studying the final result, but we think that time zones played a part. The 23-hour vote-by-Twitter contest was split 50-50 most of Thursday, with Sogard taking a small lead in the late evening hours on the West Coast, when A’s fans with nothing better to do continued to vote while Mets fans slumbered. Voting continued until 5 a.m. PST Friday, so we’re guessing early-rising Mets fans caught A’s fans napping. (And yes, of course, conspiracy theories have emerged to explain Wright’s win.)

We believe on perfectly objective grounds that Sogard’s visage still emanates an irresistible charm, a slightly goofy, enthusiastic, kidlike radiance undimmed by this setback.

7:45 a.m. Thursday Update: Yes, I am going to sit here with a straight face and tell you that this is news: Followers of the Oakland Athletics — a franchise known for its on-field overachievements, passionate fan base and tepid attendance — have made bespectacled infielder Eric Sogard, a certified non-celebrity, a finalist in “The Face of Major League Baseball” contest. Because Sogard wears glasses, A’s fans have dubbed him a nerd and his home plate appearances are accompanied by the scoreboard legend “Nerd Power.”

Sogard is in the finals against New York Mets third baseman David Wright. Fans vote by Twitter at the Face of MLB site linked above (or, look, here’s another link!). If this is the sort of thing you’re interested in, you have until 5 a.m. PST Friday to vote. Currently, the vote is a dead heat.

What’s remarkable in the Sogard “Face of MLB” saga is that he has outpolled a series of much-better-known players — the Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, the Colorado Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki and the San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey — Buster Posey, for crying out loud — on his way to the finals.

Now back to the news.

10:30 p.m. Wednesday Update: Well, just to close the loop: Not that it means much, Oakland fans, but your A’s cruised in their Cactus League opener with the Giants, 10-5. We will take note of two ugly (but also perhaps meaningless) pitching performances for the Giants: Starter Yusmeiro Petit got knocked around for four runs in the first, and reliever Sergio Romo got hammered for six runs on seven hits in the fourth.

Oh, and there was this: The Athletics’ Josh Reddick made two ridiculous catches in right, both times reaching over a 10-foot fence to rob the Giants’ Michael Moore of home runs.

In other news: The race between Eric Sogard of the A’s and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista to make it to the final of “The Face of Major League Baseball” fan poll is looking like a cliff-hanger with just six hours of voting to go. Sogard led Bautista 68-32 percent Wednesday afternoon. Tonight that margin is down to 53-47 percent. Not that we care. At all.

Original post: The San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s are launching spring training play this afternoon at the Giants’ home field in Scottsdale, Ariz. You can divine the desperate import of this inaugural Cactus League contest by the two starters for the game. Long reliever Jesse Chavez took the mound for Oakland. Non-household-name Yusmeiro Petit, a 29-year-old journeyman starter who compiled a 4-1 record with the Giants last year, including a shutout, started for San Francisco. (Petit didn’t fare so well, giving up four runs in the top of the first, the only inning he worked.)

Meantime, the two teams have already been face to face in their first real confrontation of the 2014 season.

Yeah. The Athletics’ Eric Sogard, a popular, bespectacled infielder, came out on top of Giants’ catcher and 2012 National League Most Valuable Player Buster Posey in the just-for-fun “The Face of Major League Baseball” fan poll.

Somehow, the smooth-fielding and sometimes-clutch-hitting Sogard outpolled the godlike Posey 55 percent to 45 percent in the contest. One theory is that A’s fans are conducting a well-organized underground campaign in the vote-by-Twitter contest. Another is that Giants’ fans are really not so plugged in and really couldn’t be bothered to engage in such an undignified popularity contest (they’ll wait for the All-Star Game voting to do that). Those propositions are not mutually exclusive.

I lean toward the power of Sogard’s glasses to win the hearts of fans who want a regular guy to win something for once. Whatever the explanation, the grinning Sogard is currently in the Face of Major League Baseball semifinals against the smiling stern-faced Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. With voting continuing through 5 a.m. PST Thursday, Sogard is currently drawing 66 percent of the vote.

Whoever wins that semifinal will face David Wright of the New York Mets in the Face final.

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
  • Bryan Cantrill

    To understand why we A’s fans have put Sogard forward is to understand the A’s themselves. Sogard is the truest embodiment of the soul of the A’s: he’s a smart, hard working, selfless, team-oriented player who plays the game the way it was meant to be played — and does it with a sense of humility and humor. Does it need to be said that these values represent not just the A’s but also the East Bay? This is why we A’s fans are so passionate: this isn’t a team — it’s a representation of our collective values. Eric Sogard is a pure distillation of those values — and as such, should be the face of major league baseball. Let’s go, Oakland!

  • Dave

    Sogard is a favorite of A’s fans for a lot of reasons. First off, A’s fans just plain identify with underdogs. He has gotten to where he is by a lot of hard work and large doses of humility, made the team after tearing up the Cactus League last spring. I’d vote him “Player Least Likely to Make a Self-Important Ass of Himself”. He seems to understand how privileged it is to be a ballplayer. He plays within his limitations: covers a lot of ground in the middle infield and can be a pest at the plate. He reminds us of Stairs, Jaha, Scutaro etc… guys that were just glad to be here and did their part.

    Then there was that thing with (the Rangers’) Matt Garza and Sogard’s wife last year.

    As Mr. Cantrill says, he epitomizes what your “tepidly attending rabid fan base” considers the values of the team. (I guess in the Bay Area, “rabid fan base” means “follow the count”.)

    Also, you misspelled “Reddickulous”.

    • Dan Brekke

      We stand corrected on our spelling of our Josh Reddick-related adjective.

  • IXNewbliciousXI

    Rigged! He was wimning by 41 k votes at 2 am. Rigges like no other!