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A-Rod is the “face of baseball” among people who aren’t really baseball fans

Sep 12, 2013, 2:23 PM EDT

Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

Jayson Stark wrote a column not long ago asking readers to tell him who they think the “Face of Baseball” is. Today he has results of it, and the winner — with a plurality of the votes — is Alex Rodriguez.  But there’s some interesting fine print to be read on that:

Only 17 percent of fans who lived within 20 miles of a major league stadium picked A-Rod as their Face, compared to 25 percent of those who lived more than 100 miles away … But when we split the survey group into self-described “avid” fans versus “casual” fans, we found that casual fans who lived more than 20 miles from a big league stadium were more than twice as likely (30 percent) to choose A-Rod as their Face than avid fans who lived within 20 miles (15 percent).

And the survey, Stark notes, took place just before A-Rod made his return and was in the news all the time due to the Biogenesis stuff.

I realize that it’s not terribly scientific, but all of this flows pretty nicely with my hypothesis from yesterday which holds that A-Rod is not bigger than the game. He’s a headline and a face among those who don’t follow the game too closely. He leads non-sports news stories for non-sports reasons, just as a lot of off-the-field garbage is likely to seep into mainstream news. Put him back on the field, though, and he is comparatively diminished. Put him in front of hardcore baseball fans and they are quite adept at putting him in the proper perspective.

A-Rod is only a monster when he has time and space to be made into one. And when he is presented to (or by) people who are more interested int he soap opera elements of it all than the baseball elements of it all.

  1. Old Gator - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    I’m watching A-roid reinvigorate the Borg with great glee, not because I’m a Borg fan (my grandfather was, though, so I’m enjoying this in his memory) but because I love to imagine Bud Light pumping himself with Tums, Kaopectate, Pepto Bismol and chamomile tea – if not rotgut – at the prospect of the Pariah of the Year finding postseason glory and splattering scats all over Bud’s precious legacy. Delicious image, despite the smell.

    • sadtwinsfan - Sep 12, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      i don’t get why everybody around here seems to hate bud so much. sure he handled the PED stuff in a hypocritical, disingenious way, but is he really that much crummier than his predeccesors?

      here’s an image to scare small children with:
      Bud Selig as the FACE OF BASEBALL

      • ilovegspot - Sep 12, 2013 at 7:28 PM

        Arod is the biggest dusch in baseball. He took a picture of himself kissing a mirror.

      • ilovegspot - Sep 12, 2013 at 7:28 PM

        Arod is the biggest deusch in baseball. He took a picture of himself kissing a mirror.

      • cur68 - Sep 13, 2013 at 12:19 AM

        How many ways can a person spell “douche” anyhow?

      • mrhogan88 - Sep 13, 2013 at 12:40 AM

        Doosh

      • Gamera the Brave - Sep 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        I’m from California, we spell it “Dude-sh”

  2. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Are these the same people who could pick Micheal Jordan out of a lineup, but couldn’t pick the sitting president?

    • Old Gator - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      Understandable. Jordan was the one standing up.

      Nyuknyuknyuk….

  3. herkulease - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    The face of the franchise or league isn’t meant to be geared towards the hardcore fans.

    Hardcore fans will know the names and faces of numerous players not just on their own favorite team but also others in the league.

    Its about the casual fans. Even if you know nothing about the sport you instantly know what he does.

    Peyton Manning is the face of the NFL. LeBron is the face of the NBA. Yes they both have other big name stars but random people are far more likely to know who these two are.

    IMO given the MLB issues with roids the last decade or so, its probably smart of them to not promote one guy as the face of the league. 1 screw up and its just becomes a PR nightmare.

    • offseasonblues - Sep 12, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      The guy chosen by this poll confirms what you’re saying.

      If a sport doesn’t have a current superstar it doesn’t have one and it’s not a bad thing that there are many faces of baseball – it’s a team sport isn’t it?

    • straightouttavtown - Sep 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      More people would say Kobe Bryant is the face of NBA despite Stern shoving LeBron James agenda down our throat

  4. rbj1 - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    See, I would have gone with Miggy at the moment. Or Strasburg. Or Harper.

    • yahmule - Sep 12, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Uribe.

  5. eboneseagles - Sep 12, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    This is true, I was talking to a kid from China at my university and he was surprised the yankees could lose with Arod.

  6. linhsiu - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    I am at odds with your position…

    Is he bigger than the game??? Of course not…(that is gimme)

    The hardcore putting Rodriguez in his perspective…Another gimme… Hell, it is not that hard for the basketball hardcore to put Lebron in his proper perspective…

    This continued attempt to label Rodriguez as “just a ballplayer” is really weak…

  7. anthonyverna - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Does MLB do any marketing?

    I think it needs to be a serious question. Do you see any players doing national ads? (Sorry, Yankee fans, but Jeter’s ads are only in the NY metropolitan area.)

    I’m from Philly. My mom and sister (who are casual sports fans) can name A-Rod outside of Philly. That’s it. That’s the list. They don’t know who Jeter is.

    Who’s the player who makes news? A-Rod.

    That’s just how it is and until baseball ramps up marketing one way or another, the casual sports fan won’t know these players. It just isn’t happening.

    Why is it important? Because in order to grow the game, those people need to be reached.

    • antaresrex - Sep 12, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      Well, MLB does have some marketing. This is the campaign that MLB’s been using all season. They have the right idea, I think.

      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130325&content_id=43265328&vkey=pr_mlb&c_id=mlb

    • anxovies - Sep 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Baseball is very different than football because the fans tend to follow their own teams rather than the league in general. The NFL can present a weekly snapshot of the league through televising 3 or 4 national games over a weekend and by catering to regional fans by presenting additional games involving local teams. During that same period there will have been 70+ MLB games played and few fans have the time to watch them all, so people tend to watch only games played by their team and most likely only 2 or 3 of those. They may hear of Miggy or Harper or Trout but rarely see them unless they happen to follow those teams. That’s why it takes an extraordinary player and personality like Micky Mantle or Reggie Jackson, et. al, to attract national attention.

  8. joestemme - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    F#$@ A-Roid

    • sadtwinsfan - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      wouldn’t you prefer someone younger?

      • joestemme - Sep 13, 2013 at 12:40 AM

        Just commenting on what A-Roid and the gutless “let him play” Yankees have done to the sport.

        F$#$ him.

  9. km9000 - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    He was a face until he did his heel turn by signing with the Rangers.

    But at least he’s an active player. I imagine for some people, Gretzky is still the face of the NHL.

    • jwbiii - Sep 12, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      Nah, Patrick Kane.

  10. charlutes - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    The sad truth is that A Rod is the face of baseball, period.

  11. cackalackyank - Sep 12, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    This would explain a great many things.

  12. Carl Hancock - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    So what? I’m sure if you ask most people who the face of cycling is that doesn’t really follow cycling and they’d say Lance Armstrong. He doesn’t even compete anymore for obvious reasons. That means nothing. They know his name for all the wrong reasons and associate him with baseball, but also cheating. I wouldn’t read too much into this.

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