SBD/September 13, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Poll: Yankees' Rodriguez Is Seen By Most As Current Face Of Baseball

Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez, a player MLB would "rather vaporize than promote," has been named the "face of baseball," according to Turnkey poll data cited by Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Turnkey surveyed 1,028 fans from Aug. 20-22 asking who they thought was the face of the league, and "without being offered any options, respondents gravitated first and foremost" to Rodriguez. The three-time MVP garnered 22% of the vote, far more than Yankees SS Derek Jeter, who finished second with 12% of the vote.

THE FACE OF BASEBALL
NAME
%
Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez
22%
Yankees SS Derek Jeter
12%
Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera
9%
Angels CF Mike Trout
3%
Red Sox DH David Ortiz
2%
Angels 1B Albert Pujols
2%
Reds 1B Joey Votto
2%
Baseball HOFer Babe Ruth
2%
Giants C Buster Posey
1%
Nationals RF Bryce Harper
1%
Mets 3B David Wright
1%
Yankees P Mariano Rivera
1%
Former Braves 3B Chipper Jones
1%
NOTE: Eleven percent of respondents chose "None"

Stark noted the timing of the survey "was everything," and "virtually all of the sports-business authorities we consulted for this piece agreed." The survey was "conducted during a period when A-Rod news was pretty much everywhere, from 'SportsCenter' to the 'Today' show." Only 17% of fans who lived within 20 miles of an MLB ballpark "picked A-Rod as their Face," compared to 25% of those who "lived more than 100 miles away." But when the survey was split into self-described avid fans versus casual fans, 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)." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Dir Paul Swangard said the Rodriguez vote indicates the recent coverage of MLB's PED issues has "absorbed so much attention that baseball can't get out from under its own shadow." Stark noted Turnkey gave the same survey respondents a "list of 29 active players -- a list that did NOT include Alex Rodriguez -- and asked them to choose up to three players they would identify as the Face of Baseball today." Jeter "not only got the most votes, he got nearly as much support (38 percent) as the next two players combined" in Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera and Red Sox DH David Ortiz (ESPN.com, 9/11).

SELIG'S SCOURGE: ESPN N.Y.'s Wallace Matthews wrote Rodriguez' status as the face of baseball is "terrible news" for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, because to Selig, "A-Rod is a four-letter word." The fact that "more baseball fans, casual and otherwise, consider him to be the ultimate representative of his game has got to be Selig's worst nightmare." Being the face of baseball "doesn't necessarily mean one is popular;" all it means is "when Americans think of baseball, the name Alex Rodriguez comes to mind" (ESPNNY.com, 9/12).
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