Who, in your mind, is the face of baseball? Turnkey Intelligence asked that question to over 1,000 people, and the results are in: Alex Rodriguez. Yes, A-Rod, who didn’t play a game this season until, August 5th, which was, by amazing coincidence, the day after he was suspended for the remainder of this season and all of next season. A-Rod, who has actually been really good since he started playing again (he can play while he appeals the suspension), but is now most famous for taking steroids for years and doing everything in his power to get away with it. According to 22% of respondents, nearly twice that of second place finisher Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez is the face of baseball.
The reason is simple: A-Rod is in the tabloids. Miguel Cabrera and Clayton Kershaw get lots of baseball-related attention, but if you aren’t a baseball fan, you haven’t heard of them. For most of America, when a baseball player pierced the veil into their consciousness, there’s a good chance that it had to do with A-Rod.
People like scandal, falls from grace, cautionary tales, and A-Rod provides that. Derek Jeter, 2nd place in the voting, has faded from the limelight as he’s gotten older and the Yankees are less dominant. Other than him, there aren’t many players you would expect to see on a late show or a morning show.
Hitters only bat four or five times over a three hour game, and it’s perfectly normal for a star to go 1 for 4 with a single and a walk. If you watch the Miami Heat, you’ll see LeBron James score a lot, and when you watch the Denver Broncos, the whole game revolves around Peyton Manning doing what he does best, but in baseball, just scoring once is usually a collaborative effort. Screen time and glory are shared, and there isn’t a lot of jumping around when something good happens.
If baseball wants a new face, it will have to figure out how to break through all of that and promote one of their many stars (hint: get them on TV for stuff not directly related to baseball). For now, they are stuck with A-Rod.