EXCLUSIVE: Alex Rodriguez Still In ESPN's World Baseball Classic Marketing Plans

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor, NYSportsJournalism.com

Feb. 10, 2009: Alex Rodriguez will remain part of ESPN's marketing plans to promote its coverage of the upcoming World Baseball Classic even though the New York Yankees' all-star third baseman has admitted to using steroids. According to a person at ESPN with knowledge of the situation, "We are moving forward as planned. The campaign focuses on why players will be playing and the spirit of the event. As of now, A-Rod is playing." Rodriguez came clean about his use of steroids from 2001-03 during an interview on ESPN two days after Sports Illustrated released a report saying he was one of 104 players who had tested positive in 2003. Rodriguez is one of four players highlighted in ESPN's campaign, along with Yankees teammate Derek Jeter, Jorge Cantu (Florida Marlins) and Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners). According to the source, ESPN filmed the campaign in mid-January and it was planned months ahead. In the spots, each of the players respond to the theme of the campaign, "Why do I play in the World Baseball Classic?" Rodriguez, who will be on the Dominican Republic squad, says that he will play "for Dominican pride." The campaign, from DCode, New York, includes two TV spots scheduled to break Feb. 16, followed by print, radio, OOH and Internet. Street teams will target such local markets as Los Angeles, New York and Miami. In addition to Rodriguez, the Dominican Republic team roster currently includes Pedro Martinez (free agent), Octavio Dotel (Chicago Sox), Miguel Tehada (Houston Astros), Vladimir Guerrero (LA Angeles), Alfonso Soriano (Chicago Cubs) and Melky Cabrera, who is a teammate of A-Rod on the Yankees. The team manager is Felipe Alou. The first game for the Dominican Republic is vs. Netherlands on March 7 in San Juan. If the team gets through the first round, the next round would be March 14 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. ESPN will televise 23 games of the tournament in the U.S., including the semi-final and final games in Los Angeles, across ESPN and ESPN2 and on its Spanish-language platform ESPN Deportes. MLB Network will televise 16 World Baseball Classic games. Back to Home Page

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