By Dan Capawana, Media Relations Specialist, R&J Public Relations
Alex Rodriguez has dominated sports headlines for the past month. Every day, there is a new story developing about Rodriguez and his alleged links to Biogenesis. Rodriguez has had two public relations firms and six law firms in the past six months; each playing a game I like to call “Damage Control Daily.” Off the top of my head I cannot think of anyone who needs better public relations than A-Rod right now.
Rodriguez is facing a 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball, the longest non-lifetime suspension in league history. Despite this suspension for his use of performance enhancing drugs, and his attempts to cover up his violations by obstructing the investigation, he is allowed to play for the Yankees while he appeals the punishment. This has made the most hated man in baseball even more detested, and last Sunday night he was even thrown at intentionally by Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster. While A-Rod later hit a home run off Dempster, (which was sweet, sweet revenge for us Yankee fans) the future for him looks bleak.
How does one of the most accomplished players in baseball history attempt to even slightly repair his image? He should start by developing more consistent messaging and getting a better handle on social media. Before he played in a game this season, he created even more of a bind between himself and the Yankees by tweeting he was healthy enough to play, to which Yankees GM Brian Cashman told the star to, “Shut the (expletive) up.” Then after sustaining a second injury during rehabilitation and further delaying his return to the team, he sought out the opinion of a second doctor who went on the radio and questioned the Yankees doctors by stating there did not appear to be an injury.
Directly prior to his first game back, coincidentally on the day he was handed the 211-game suspension, Rodriguez held a very unpopular press conference where he painted himself as the victim in all of this, stating he was, “Fighting for his life.” On the same day his public relations spokesman sent out a tweet reading, “Hello Chicago!!! Let’s do this!!! #fighting.”
This chain of events reads like a “what not to do” in public relations. Since he has rejoined the team, his lawyers have claimed the Yankees continued to play him through his hip injury in the 2012 postseason, and alleged that the team President told his hip surgeon he’d be happy if Rodriguez never played again.
A-Rod’s PR team should consider getting everyone on the same page and employing more consistent messaging in these troubled times. It may be too little too late to win over many baseball fans around the league, but if he keeps hitting redemptive home runs like on Sunday against the hated Red Sox, he will at least keep Yankee fans happy.