Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Kiermaier, Sex Symbol
I was standing on line at a Tampa Bay Rays event with over 200 other fans as I waited to get a picture taken with Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. A young, good-looking couple stood in front of me, decked out in Rays gear. The young man was about six feet tall, maybe 185 pounds with wavy brown hair and brown eyes. The young woman, meanwhile, was about 5’5″ with long black hair. They held hands with obvious affection, as they talked and teased each other.
Then the girl said, “You know I love you, but I really came here to marry Kevin.” The boy smiled, but I could see him freeze just a little. He knew she was teasing, but he also hoped that Kiermaier wouldn’t ask her. Alex Colome, Tim Beckham, Steve Geltz, and other Rays also had picture-taking sessions, but no one had a line as long as Kiermaier’s.
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I heard the same thing from two teenage girls who sat behind me at a Rays-Mets game. The girls sighed over Kiermaier the entire game, trading pictures of him on their cell phones and screaming every time a ball was hit to centerfield. Both declared their desire to marry him, or if that won’t work, to “keep him in my bedroom for when I need him.” Speaking of the Mets, my wife and I attended several games in the 80’s, when the Mets featured matinee idols Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. Even so, my wife says that Kevin Kiermaier is the best-looking ballplayer she has ever seen.
This is Kevin Kiermaier’s breakout year. He is no longer the defensive replacement with the goofy, alliterative name. He’s the Rays’ leader in WAR, the major league leader in triples, and the best defensive player in the game. He has several highlight-worthy circus catches to his record, most recently his robbery of a would-have-been homer by Manny Machado in Baltimore. How many fans are going to games hoping for flyballs to be hit to centerfield? Evan Longoria may be the team’s leader, but Kevin Kiermaier is becoming its star.
If he played in New York or Los Angeles, Kiermaier might already be modeling underwear in fashion magazines, just like Jim Palmer did during his time with the Orioles. Instead, because the Rays play in a smaller market, it is taking time for the advertising world to catch up. Still, if I was Kiermaier’s agent, I wouldn’t be surprised at the number of offseason offers that will come his way. The Tampa Bay Rays’ promotional team must be spending a great deal of time planning how to exploit Kiermaier’s appeal. The Rays may finally have a player that people will make a special trip to the ballpark to see, even if it’s only to propose to him.