Why can't Xander Bogaerts be the new face of Boston sports?

Rob Bradford
July 09, 2020 - 11:47 am

It's time to find another face of Boston sports.

Fortunately, there seems to be a pretty good candidate.

With every stretch of sports fandom in New England, there is seemingly always the athlete who will be routinely put on the ESPN promos or national public service announcements. It's been pretty turn-key for the last 20 years thanks to Tom Brady. The likes of Paul Pierce, David Ortiz, and Patrice Bergeron have stood at the ready, but when the cab driver in Seattle sparks up the conversation about Boston sports Brady's name was usually going to be the one bubbled up before all else.

The title has to be owned by a player who is elite in his respective sport while showing a long-term commitment to living life in a Boston uniform. But they also have to be someone the area can circle the wagons around. Someone whose personality, perspective, and actions on and off the court/field/ice elicit pride from the fan base.

Meet Xander Bogaerts.

A lot of has been made of Bogaerts evolving into one of the key leaders on the Red Sox, which is legitimate. He has shown the willingness to stand up and answer the tough questions while striking the right tone in doing so. But taking it to the level of representing an entire fan base is more than just helping control a clubhouse.

Let's start with ability. Bogaerts won't be the level of Brady, and Tatum will most likely reach heights in his sport the Red Sox shortstop won't be able to attain. But he is among the best in Major League Baseball with a resume that already includes two World Series titles, 1,022 hits, 107 home runs and an OPS that climbed to .939 last season, allowing for a fifth-place finish in the American League MVP voting. And at 27 years old it's fair to think that the production is ready to settle in at an elite status.

Then there is the personality. Bogaerts is the type of guy people should be drawn to. He isn't protective of a brand (like so many other athletes in his world/generation), yet doesn't do things that would embarrass himself or others. He is outgoing to even those he has little familiarity with. He works hard. He plays through injuries. There is no hint that the big, bad world of Boston sports has beaten him down. And it doesn't hurt that his ability to fluently speak multiple languages helps build relationships in all corners of the clubhouse and society.

Finally, we can't ignore his willingness to living life with this iconic status.

Bogaerts told his agent Scott Boras to get a deal done with the Red Sox no matter what when he could have easily ridden out 2019 and made a bunch more with another team via free agency. He wanted to stay in Boston. And when that opt-out rolls around after the 2022 season, $20 million a year will be enough to keep that same perception.

That one action said a lot about what Bogaerts wants to be, and where he wants to be.

Perhaps if Tatum commits long-term, keeps trending toward superstardom while continuing to use his voice across multiple platforms he becomes the no-brainer image of the city's sporting world. But until then, as we sit here, there is a better candidate.

Xander Bogaerts, the face of Boston sports.