Soler Power: A Letter to the Newest Chicago Cub

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Dear Mr. Jorge Soler,

Congratulations! You made it to the big leagues. Sure, that’s no surprise. The Cubs loved you enough to pay you $30 million over nine years before you even hit a single ball for them, and you batted .338 in the minors this year, which is better than most of your Chicago teammates could have done. Your ascension to the majors was basically a given, but I’ve lived long enough to know that freak baserunning injuries and goat-herding accidents can and do happen, so this is a time for celebration. The next five seconds are a time for celebration, at least. You can celebrate until you’ve reached the end of this sentence. Okay, stop now. The MLB is a cold, ruthless place, and those who are happy just to be there will find themselves shagging fly balls for the Batavia Muckdogs or Jamestown Jammers.

When you get to The Show, all kinds of people will be angling to join your inner circle. Don’t listen to them, especially if they come to you asking you to invest in a really great Detroit real-estate deal they found on an interleague road trip. Some people will be willing to help you, though, and as someone who is one year older than you and has played in exactly zero professional baseball games, I am up to the challenge. You may say that I lack an insider’s perspective, but I like to think that I have a healthy distance from the game, combined with a knowledge of what makes players great. Perhaps most importantly, I have never once chewed tobacco, and I trust that my smart decision-making and healthy salivary glands will be assets to you in the future.

Get a gimmick: As I’m sure you are aware, the team that you have just become a part of is not very good. Your arrival is an indication that people in the Cubs organization are serious about winning, but nothing you could do in the next month is going to help the Cubs overcome the 13.5-game division deficit they currently face. That’s perfect for you, though! Instead of worrying about pesky details like on-field performance, you can devote this time to building your brand, and showing Chicago fans why you’re going to be the next Cubs superstar. It’s been a long time since a legend made his home at Wrigley Field,  so the fans are looking for someone they can embrace. Or someone they can embrace, shun, and then mock for his questionable skin-care choices. The big deal these days is the 12-34 demographic. The Cubs pinstripe jerseys are nice, but have you considered adding a cape? Or what about holding the bat upside-down once in a while? No one has tried it, but I’m sure making solid contact off the handle would create some crazy spins.

Embrace the Cuban: When you made the decision to defect in 2011, you joined a growing cadre of Cubans who have brought their baseball talents to America. Comparisons to Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, and Yoenis Cespedes will be everywhere, but remember that you’re a better player than all of them. You can out-Puig Puig, out-Abreu Abreu, and out-grass Cespedes, all without trying very hard. But don’t stop with statistical dominance; let everyone know that you, and you alone, are your country’s premier export. Keep a Cuban flag in your back pocket for your home run trot. Make sure you’re photographed with cigars, ham sandwiches, whatever it takes. Never mind the fact that you may not even like your country that much (you did risk your life not to live there); Americans baseball fans love displays of patriotism, even if the country being bolstered isn’t their own.

Be picky with endorsements: After you knock your first few home runs, companies will come running for you. But be careful of these folks, especially the ones who aren’t even willing to give you a copy of the contract in Spanish. It may be tempting to jump at every offer, but do Oreck vacuum cleaners really need to be part of the Jorge Soler brand? Laffy Taffy? No. That stuff is made out of discarded pool covers. When people see their favorite rightfielder onscreen between segments of “Baseball Tonight”, they need to know that he’s there in support of the best deodorant, the tastiest iced tea, and the most sublime of hair-replacement therapies. If there’s one thing you don’t want to become, it’s the Ty Burrell of baseball players. When Jorge Soler endorses a product, his fans need to know that he really uses it, or at least would use it, if he were a post-menopausal woman suffering from plaque psoriasis.

All the best to you as you prepare to make your debut. I hope I have given you sufficient reason to bring me on as an advisor during your MLB career. If not, consider this advice my free gift to you. But if you opt for some Scott Boras clone with “experience” and “qualifications,” just know that it will be yet another big mistake, and one of Cuba’s other top prospects will be coming for you in a few years, barrel of the bat in hand.

 

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