Alex Rodriguez’s unlikely rise from baseball infamy to media superstardom may not have been possible without fiancée Jennifer Lopez, the actress and pop star who helped the public see “A-Rod” in a new light.
Rodriguez began dating Lopez in early 2017, just as his MLB career that was equal parts successful and controversial was nearing its end. Since his retirement, the 44-year-old slugger has landed TV jobs with ESPN and Fox Sports, launched business podcast “The Corp” with Barstool Sports, appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and built on an investment empire includes real estate, art and various other properties.
Rodriguez paid tribute to Lopez on social media as she wrapped up her recent “It’s My Party” world tour with a performance in St. Petersburg, Russia last Sunday, and has repeatedly credited Lopez as the creative force behind his PR turnaround. The relationship has been “tremendous” for Rodriguez’s image, showing fans a different side of a man they once viewed as aloof or arrogant, according to Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert and creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco.
“The two of them together are larger than life. It makes him seem a little more real and again, a little bit more of a nice guy. The other knock on him was that he was always this crazy egomaniac,” Dorfman told FOX Business.
Rodriguez’s newfound popularity comes just five years after the low point of his career in professional baseball, when he was suspended for the entire 2014 season for use of performance-enhancing drugs. The controversy clouded Rodriguez’s litany of achievements on the field, including 691 career home runs, three MVP awards and a World Series title with the New York Yankees in 2009.
Even before the scandal, Rodriguez was seen as unpopular among his peers. In 2012, MLB players voted Rodriguez the second-most hated star in baseball in a poll conducted by Men’s Journal.
In a recent cover interview with Sports Illustrated, Rodriguez credited Lopez for coaching him on how to connect with fans in an authentic way. At one point, Lopez gave him tips on how to improve his performance at press conferences.
“She knows how to communicate to the masses in ways I never will,” Rodriguez told the magazine. “She has this platform that’s just ginormous, like 200 million on social, over 75% of them millennials. She just sees it. She helps me out all the time when I’m trying to land a point on something. She’s just a wordsmith.”
Rodriguez’s revamped on-camera presence has resonated with fans. Aside from his work on ESPN and Fox, Rodriguez consulted with MLB officials earlier this year on how to engage younger fans.
“The fact that he actually turned out to be a good TV analyst has helped the most,” Dorfman said. “I don’t think people expected that. He’s done a really good job. People like him, he’s been fairly enlightening in everything he says. It’s kept him in the public eye and it’s made him a lot more respectable.”
Lopez and Rodriguez have made frequent appearances together on red carpets and other public events. In late July, Lopez surprised Rodriguez with a birthday cake while he worked as a color commenter on an ESPN game broadcast.
“Whenever the wedding is, it’s going to be a huge thing and it will be a big media zoo,” Dorfman added. “As long as he stays out in the forefront in terms of being around baseball, being on TV with baseball, it’s really about how ambitious he wants to be.”
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