In our most recent installment of our award winning podcast, Missy Carroll mentioned that the most marketable person on the Chicago White Sox is Jake Burger. It really made me think, underdog story, new dad, awesome family, is Jake Burger the most compelling person on this team? She made a great case for him, but one thing I know for sure, he’s being under marketed as a player who has belted over 20 home runs for a struggling White Sox team (so far).
A little history lesson.
The year is 2021. Backup catcher Yermin Mercedes sets a record as the first player in modern MLB history to start the season with 8 hits. He was also the first player in White Sox history to record 5 hits in his first MLB start. On May 3rd, Yermin was awarded the AL Rookie Of The Month, batting .415/.455/.659 with 5 doubles and 5 home runs. Including a HR he slammed 485 ft at Sox Park. To say he started the season hot is an understatement.
Aside from the action on the field, Yermin became a household name. They were selling autographed bats, hosting autograph signings, the guy was making money off the field. He even got his own bobblehead made by FOCO! The Yerminator! A star was born.
We were all loving Yermin Mercedes and he was EVERYWHERE. He even had his own burger at Freddie’s On 31st. And that’s what baffles me. Our Dominican AL Rookie Of The Week / Month got a burger named after him. A Dominican Chimichurri Burger is traditional Dominican street food. The burger patties are made with ground beef and seasoned with Dominican flavors. This flavorful burger is topped with tomatoes, slightly pickled red onions, shredded cabbage, and a big spoonful of their secret Chimichurri Sauce.
It was pretty successful too, even resident Soxmachine foodie Josh Nelson reviewed it.
What happens next is a sore subject for some and something that was debated by many at the time. On May 17th, vs the Twins (the team picked to win the division) Yerm homered on a 3-0 pitch while up 11 runs. The guy pitching? Willians “La Tortuga” Astudillo, a position player. Our HOF manager then came out and publicly criticized Yermin for breaking the “unwritten rules” of baseball. All this was being done under the White Sox slogan for the year “Change The Game”. Apparently it should have been “Go ahead and change the game, but don’t change it against a team up 11 with a 3-0 count.”
After that fateful night Yermin (predictably) came back down to earth…
After that game, Mercedes’ batting average dropped from a league-leading .364 to .271 by the end of June. He was demoted back to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on July 2. On July 21, Mercedes announced via his Instagram account that he would be taking an indefinite leave from professional baseball, but the following day Mercedes returned to Charlotte
The Future With Burger.
Why that happened is something we can debate, but what we CAN’T DEBATE is HR Phenom Jake Burger isn’t being promoted in the same way. Not even close. While Jake hasn’t come out on fire like Yermin, the guy has hit 21 homers in 252 AB’s. Plus, he was famously cut at the end of spring training. “The hardest cut I’ve ever made” according to first year manager Pedro Grifol. Jake Burger has stepped up for an injured Yoan Moncada and has been swatting HRs like a possessed m’effer. In a VERY down year, shouldn’t we be promoting the positives?
Do I expect Freddie’s On 31st to make a Jake Burger Burger? No. Do I expect ANOTHER local place to do a Jake Burger themed “Burger Bomb”? YES! Yes I do. Wanna get a few people in your place to try a topical sandwich? Make the BURGER BOMB (I’d suggest bacon, jalapenos and ghost pepper cheese)! Looking your way Ballpark Pub, add in a beer special and you’ll have a line out the door! But maybe that is asking for too much.
Maybe the team that is in desperate need of some positive press should make a move themselves. Maybe that team could change their “Comiskey Burger” to “Jake’s Burger” while he is crushing the ball on the Southside. It can be temporary (god forbid we don’t remember Comiskey), but you could announce it on your socials, make some signs and sell a bunch of burgers. It’s something they already sell, it’s quite easily the least they could do for Jake.
I’m not expecting a bobblehead or even a burger, but it’d be pretty nice to see Jake Burger get some type of recognition off the field for what he’s done on it. It’s also a great way to bring new (and disgruntled) fans back into the fold. There are no rules about having fun when your team has been an absolute disappointment all season. Look for the quick and easy ways to engage your fan base. It doesn’t have to cost a bunch of money, but it will take some effort. We still got that right?
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