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This Could be A-Rod’s Next Big Career

Alex RodriguezAlex Rodriguez
Alex RodriguezPhotograph by Porter Binks — Sports Illustrated

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

In the middle of his MLB studio analyst assignment for Fox Sports last October, following a deluge of positive reviews from outlets not always so kind to him, Alex Rodriguez was asked by this column if his positive experience at Fox Sports would lead him to consider broadcasting after his career was over. At the time, Rodriguez said it wasn’t something he was entertaining. “I’m a novice at this,” Rodriguez said. “I’m having fun at it and I was flattered to be asked. But look, this is not my strength. My strength is to play baseball and I have done that for 21 years in the major leagues. My focus is 100% baseball.”

On Sunday, Rodriguez announced his retirement from major league baseball as an active player. He will play his final game Friday before moving to a job with the Yankees as a special advisor and instructor. His immediate retirement means he will have no professional obstacles from once again serving as studio analyst for the postseason for Fox. It is a move Fox Sports should consider seriously and one it will likely explore.

“We’d love to have him back in some capacity, but right now we think its only fair to let Alex focus on what will obviously be an emotional week,” said Fox Sports executive producer John Entz, in an email on Sunday. “We had high hopes for Alex last year and he exceeded all of them. His content was fantastic and his desire to improve was off the charts. We were unbelievably impressed with Alex across the board.”

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Last October, Rodriguez joined another of baseball’s famous rogues, Pete Rose, to create what was compelling, interesting and at times trainwreck (thanks to Rose) sports television. Rodriguez justified Fox’s curiosity regarding his television potential by providing quality analysis in a succinct manner. He quickly adapted to his colleagues, and most importantly, viewers learned something from his analysis. Yankees beat reporters will tell you that Rodriguez’s baseball knowledge is off the charts and that he has a habit of seeing everything on the field. A number of them emailed me last year to say he’s particularly good at diagnosing pitching issues, which is counter to what you might think given he’s a hitter. He proved that on the air.

Why hire someone with a checkered on-field reputation? Sports television executives rarely factor in off-the-field issues with hires unless their league partners have issues with the hire. They also do not factor in how an athlete or coach treated the media (outside of their own organization) during that athlete’s career. I think it’s an insult to hire someone who showed no respect for your profession but from the hires of Bob Knight to Sterling Sharpe and many others, sports TV executives simply do not care.

 

As for Rodriguez, he had some awful moments with the press—he accused my former colleague Selena Roberts of breaking into his Miami home, which was patently untrue—but he was accessible to the media most of his career. His baseball crimes are well known: He repeatedly lied to everyone about using performance-enhancing drugs. Again, sports network executives are not moralists. They are in the business of making money and getting eyeballs.

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On the issue of preparation for broadcasting, Rodriguez told Sports Illustrated last year that “I read the papers, I try to organize my thoughts, I try to remember facing each of these guys I faced. That’s kind of what I bring to the table. I have faced most of these guys over the last six months. I organize my thoughts and convey it to the audience … I have always respected guys like Bob Costas, Michael Kay, Joe Buck, you name it, but they have gone to a higher pedestal. This is challenging and difficult.”

Entz said he has remained friendly with Ron Berkowitz, who serves as Rodriguez’s public relations representative. Last year, Laura Marcus, the former Fox Sports vice president of talent relations, connected Entz with Berkowitz to initiate the Fox deal.

If you are looking for additional Fox Sports connections to Rodriguez, the soon-to-be-retired player prior to talking to the Yankees press core gave an exclusive interview on Sunday to Ken Rosenthal, the lead MLB insider for Fox. All directions point to Fox Sports asking Rodriguez to jump on its coverage again, and if he does, viewers will benefit, even those who despised him as a ballplayer.