We all know that Derek Jeter is the face of the New York Yankees, and David Wright is the Mets' representative. Rex Ryan may be the face of the Jets. Lou Lamoriello the Devils. And Henrik Lundqvist front and center for the . But if we take a deeper look at where each team stands today and what they actually represent in their respective histories, we can come up with better "faces of the franchise" than what we take for granted now as the symbols of each team. Without further ado, here are the real faces of each local franchise - and I will choose players only, no coaches, owners, GMs or Mr. Met.
Yankees: Alex Rodriguez - Jeter is classy, noncontroversial, homegrown, serious and hard-working, which perfectly represents the values of the Yankees, right? Wrong. The shortstop has played most of his career in the George Steinbrenner era, and the tyrannical legend was anything but classy and noncontroversial. What have the Yanks really been the last 10 years? A bloated, outrageously paid team filled with mercenaries, steroid users and surly egos run amok. And who better represents that than A-Rod? He's the highest-paid player on the highest-paid team, he's been involved in a steroid scandal, he's an egomaniac, he's a walking controversy - but he's also won a championship. He's the real Mr. Yankee.
Mets: Oliver Perez - Who better exemplifies the "everything that can go wrong will go wrong" atmosphere of the Amazin's the last five years? Wright is a boy scout, who goes about his business and plays the game the right way. Does that scream Mets to you? I didn't think so. But a wildly inconsistent pitcher, who's held the team hostage and in turn has forced the team to hold him hostage, in a crazy, only-in-the-world-of-the-Mets scenario? There's your real face of the franchise.
Brandon Jacobs - Who are the of the last three years or so? The team with the best record in 2008 but couldn't win a playoff game? The 5-0 team from the beginning of last year? The 3-8 team that ended it? The opening-day Giants of 2010? The debacle from the Manning Bowl? The undisciplined mess from Sunday? Nobody knows. And nobody knows who the real Brandon Jacobs is either. He's happy. He's unhappy. He's a bulldozing bruiser. He's a tip-toeing, afraid-of-contact washed-up second stringer. He's an outspoken leader. He's an immature brat throwing his helmet. Big Blue is an enigma and Jacobs represents that idea better than any other Giant.:
Jets: Bart Scott - A team that is brash, loud, fun, confident, filled with big names imported from elsewhere (Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, et al.) - and hated. That's who the Jets are today. Who would best represent those qualities? Mark Sanchez? Nah, too goofy and too much of a pretty boy. Darrelle Revis? Too quiet. Braylon Edwards? That might be too much brashness, and besides, his legal entanglements disqualify him. The only real choice is Bart Scott. He fits all of those descriptions. The face of the franchise for Gang Green has to be a boisterous, jolly, brazen and cocksure fellow. And Scott is just that.
Knicks: Anthony Randolph - Donnie Walsh has spent the last few years washing away the stink of the Isiah Thomas Era, cleansing the franchise of the Stephon Marburys of the basketball world (only one more guy to go - Eddy Curry). They're no longer a team of overpaid "stars." Today's Knicks are comprised of one All-Star in Amar'e Stoudemire and youth. A whole lot of youth. What this year's Knick team is all about is hope. And so is Anthony Randolph. He's hope personified. He's young, he's big, he's athletic and the Knicks are hoping he's something special. But at least they have hope now. Hope that the dark days of the Garden will soon be ending. (Note: If Carmelo Anthony ends up on the Knicks, ignore everything above.)
Nets: Derrick Favors - The Nets blew things up and went into full-blown rebuilding mode when they sent Jason Kidd off to Dallas for Devin Harris. Last year's record was worse than anything the hapless Knicks could come up with, but they cleared out the salaries and veterans for the promise of a better tomorrow. Brooklyn is on the horizon, and a new day will be dawning for the Nets. Who better to represent the future than the youngest player on the team, in Derrick Favors? They didn't do all that losing for nothing. And the teenaged Favors is the most appropriate symbol of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets. (See above note about Anthony, though.)
Rangers: Chris Drury - The Rangers are a mix of young, homegrown kids, a smattering of overpaid, maybe-over-the-hill veterans and a couple of in-their-prime stars. Which means they're caught in the middle of contending for a seventh or eighth playoff seed (with a good chance at not qualifying at all like last season) but not good enough to be a real power. And as much as Glen Sather and John Tortorella claim that players have to earn their ice time, it really isn't true, as we saw last year. The Blueshirts aren't the disastrous, bloated team filled with aging deadbeats like in previous incarnations, and we don't even have Wade Redden to kick around anymore, so he can't be the face of the franchise. But they're not exactly stocked with ultra-hard-working, exemplary players such as Ryan Callahan, either. So where does that leave us? How about Drury? He kind of works hard, he's kind of over the hill, he's kind of good at everything but not great at anything, he's kind of overpaid (ok, really, really overpaid), but not the disaster that Redden was. He could bounce back with a nice, productive year (once he recovers from his broken finger), but he's kind of in the middle and bland. Just like the Rangers.
Islanders: Rick DiPietro - Maybe DiPietro is considered the real face of the franchise, but that tag probably already goes to young John Tavares even though he only has one season under his belt. The Islanders are in perpetual rebuilding mode. And that means we're constantly waiting for them to turn the corner. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And who better exemplifies waiting than the always-injured, always-rehabbing DiPietro? He has to return to form sometime, doesn't he? Just like the Islanders have to return to playing consistent winning hockey sometime, don't they?
Devils: Brian Rolston - Say the words New Jersey Devils and one thinks "system," "defense," "Martin Brodeur" or "David Puddy." Over the years the Devils have been like a machine run by the machine-like Lou Lamoriello. The players are interchangeable commodities to be plugged into a system. And they're renowned for bringing back old Devils for a second tour of duty. Ilya Kovalchuk may represent a new day and new way for New Jersey, but we need proof first. Rolston, though, is Devil through and through. He's back for the second time, he can play center, left wing or right wing, he can quarterback the power play and he's the consummate two-way player. Plug him anywhere and watch him go. I wanted to choose Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond just for his cool name alone, but Rolston's the better choice.
[UPDATE: Feeling a little left out, our friend Matt from Once A Metro offered his thoughts on the face of the New York Red Bulls of the MLS. Here they are: The obvious answer based on the MLS press would be Thierry Henry, who joined the Red Bulls during the transfer window in July of this year. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he joined the team around the same time as former F.C. Barcelona teammate Rafael Marquez. The Mexican national team captain signing was able to steal some of the spotlight off of the French striker. While both shared media attention, the face of the New York franchise remains Juan Pablo Angel, the Columbian striker who has been the bright spot of a once struggling team. JPA, as fans know him, has had another spectacular year and looks to be in contention for MLS MVP as well as a favorite for the Golden Boot. ]
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