Alex Rodriguez will be spared the awkwardness of criticizing players who may end up under his employ.
Rodriguez, who is currently leading a group bid with fiancée Jennifer Lopez to assume ownership of the Mets, will remain in his role as an analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” this season, but the network will avoid putting the three-time MVP on any games involving the team he hopes to purchase.
Currently, the Mets’ only Sunday night game is scheduled for July 26 against the Braves, during which Chipper Jones will replace Rodriguez as the analyst. Rodriguez will call the Dodgers-Giants game that day. Future Sunday night games are subject to change.
Last year, Rodriguez’s former co-analyst, Jessica Mendoza, created a highly criticized conflict of interest when she held a dual role as a Mets adviser.
This time, ESPN has preemptively addressed a potential issue.
“[We’ll] shy away from having Alex do a Mets game, so we don’t put him in a bad position … given what’s going on,” Mark Gross, ESPN senior vice president of production and remote events, said on a conference call.
Though Rodriguez, 44, said he could not discuss details regarding his pursuit of the Mets, the former superstar said the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t dissuaded him from ownership, even with uncertainty surrounding whether this season’s 60-game regular season sprint will be completed and when fans will be permitted back into ballparks.
“Downside protection is always the most important part of investing in anything … [but] I do think with a crisis comes an opportunity, and I think the opportunity for us in the game of baseball is to lean into the forward-thinking that other leagues have adapted quicker than us,” Rodriguez said. “This is a business of entertainment. It’s not just baseball or sport. The more we broaden our breadth, the more we’re gonna paint this game in revenues from 10 to 15 to 20 billion, and we’re gonna do it by collaborating and everyone being on the same page and thinking big picture.”
Even if MLB reclaims a semblance of normalcy in 2021, a potential work stoppage threatens the 2022 season.
Following recent months of contentious negotiations between owners and the players’ union, Rodriguez said he still can speak honestly about the dynamic despite his aspirations to join the sport’s most powerful club.
“I think I can because my goal as a fan first is to grow the game and make it more popular,” Rodriguez said. “We want to be spokesmen for the game of baseball, and the conversation should be more about growing the pie, not which percentage of a smaller pie am I gonna take. We have to really work collaboratively with the owners and the players to say, ‘How do we compete together to become No. 1?’ The only way it’s gonna happen is if they get to the table and say, ‘The No. 1 goal is, let’s get from 10 to 15 billion and maybe we split the economics evenly.’ But that’s the type of conversation instead of fighting against each other because there’s too much competition out there right now.”