On Monday,Major League Baseball suspended the New York Yankees slugger for 211 games—through the end of the 2014 season—for his involvement a doping scandal, yet he still played in that night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
He was able to play because he’s appealing the suspension, and in a press conference before the game, Rodriguez painted himself as an embattled warrior: “I'm fighting for my life,” he said. “I have to defend myself. If I don't defend myself, no one else will.”
That language is very similar to what appeared in a now-deleted tweet from Rodriguez’s PR spokesman Ron Berkowitz. In it, he said, “Hello Chicago!!! Lets do this!!! #fighting”
One might say that’s an example of a PR spokesman and his client simply staying on message, but quite a few observers on Twitter—PR pros included—viewed the confluence as a cynical attempt to generate sympathy.
For example, one Twitter commentator (who used some not-safe-for-work language) said Rodriguez was crying “crocodile tears,” adding, “Can't wait to see what his PR firm has him spit out next.”
Political strategist Chris Russell had this to say:
PR pro Lisa Brock said tweets like Berkowitz’s make PR look just plain bad:
There’s plenty of rancor to go around. Some people blamed Rodriguez for a bad PR performance; others directed their anger at the Yankees organization and at Major League Baseball as a whole. But PR itself seems to have suffered a hit.
What do you think? Is the latest chapter in the A-Rod saga a black eye for PR?