PR in Sports

Looking at the World of Sports from a PR Perspecitve

Posts Tagged ‘Roger Clemens

Who Will be the First Steroid User Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

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Mcgwire testifying before congress in 2005

I’m not interested in getting into how Mark McGwire handled the steroids issue, and his revelation that he did indeed use PED’s, we all know this has been a complete disaster for Big Mac. He lied in front of congress and he’s basically been a pariah ever since. Now he’s returning to baseball as the St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach and was almost forced to admit his wrong doings, and even in doing so, is saying steroids did not help him hit homeruns.

I do think an interesting question is how McGwire’s admission affects the Baseball Hall of Fame. At some point there will be steroid users recognized in the Hall of Fame, and someone will be the first to get in. But who that player will be is up for debate.

Shortly after McGwire’s admission I participated in #SportsPRChat, a chat session on Twitter run by Mike Schaffer (@MikeSchaffer) Director of Social Media at Brotman-Winter Fried Communications and author of The Buzz by Mike Schaffer. During Monday’s chat I had a discussion with Matt LaCasse (@MattLaCasse) about who the first steroid user in the Baseball Hall of Fame will be?

LaCasse feels McGwire will make that claim, due to being likable, finally coming clean and that being “the face” of the steroid era makes him the right candidate. He might be right, McGwire certainly has time on his side as he’s eligible (he has seven years left on the ballot) and now has a day-to-day job in baseball where he can mend fences with sportswriters, the ones who actually do the voting. But, I’m not so sure “the face” of the steroid era being the first in the Hall of Fame is such a good thing for baseball.

I argued that from a PR perspective baseball would be better off with someone like Andy Pettitte. Pettitte seems to have created the blueprint for getting past the steroid issue. When baseball’s Mitchell Report outed him as an offender, Pettitte immediately faced the music by holding a press conference.

To this day he remains a respected player and citizen in the game. I don’t recall steroids being mentioned once during his two World Series starts in 2009. In contrast, we’ve seen guys like McGwire, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds deny their use of PED’s for years, and as a result be banished from the game for the most part.

A player like Pettitte going in first would minimize the negative PR at the time of his induction, and minimize the negative press when his peers finally enter. Yes, there would still be plenty of steroid stories when McGwire, Bonds, Clemens etc. go in, but it would definitely be tempered a bit with an admitted user already in. A strike against Pettitte is that he hasn’t retired yet, so time is not on his side, as we have to wait at least six years before he’s eligible.

No matter how it plays out, I think it’s an interesting question. So, who do you think will be the first steroid user inducted into the Hall of Fame and who would be best for baseball?

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Written by Brian Gleason

January 12, 2010 at 1:14 am

Clemens Interview a PR Mistake

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Roger_ClemensRoger Clemens is back in the news folks! That’s right, “The Rocket” finally came out of the woodwork Tuesday morning, giving his first interview in nearly a year. Clemens appeared on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio, and in typical fashion, talked a lot but said nothing.

Clemens spent the interview denying steroid use and defending himself against a new New York Daily News book. American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America’s Pastime was released Tuesday and recounts the news that has seen Clemens go from sure fire Hall-of-Famer, to disgraced.

Which brings us to the mystery of the interview. Very few people were even even aware the book was coming out. Michael Wilbon, from Los Angeles on Tuesday’s PTI, mentioned he was at the Houston Rockets shoot-around prior to Game 5 of their series with the Lakers, and media from Clemens hometown had not even heard of the book.

So why appear on Mike and Mike? Clemens had nothing new to say, and actually drew attention to a book that had little momentum. But, what most analysts seemed to miss, was that Clemens did say some things. He did get his message across. He just did it about an hour before his interview.

At about 7:30 a.m. Gene Grabowski, Clemens new PR rep, appeared on Mike and Mike. Grabowski’s interview was definitely interesting, because as mentioned Clemens later said nothing, but I do question Mike and Mike on having Clemens PR person on to set up his own interview. It might have been better to have an impartial PR pro on to breakdown what Clemens needed to do in his interview.

Regardless, Grabowski is a leading and respected crisis communications professional, and he swung for the fences when Clemens was unable too. Grabowski continually referred to Brian McNamee, Clemens’ accuser, as simply “an admitted drug dealer”, and the authors of the new Clemens book as “tabloid reporters”.

Most interesting was Grabowski’s recount of looking Clemens straight in the eye before bringing him on as a client. This definitely brought back images of the famous “What you do have is my whole word, and it’s stronger than oak” line from Jerry McGuire, and we all know how that turned out. Grabowski repeatedly asked the public not rush to judgment and to wait for Clemens to tell his side of the story. He pleaded “innocent until proven guilty”, painting Clemens as a wrongly accused celebrity.

But, from a PR perspective, we’re all left wondering, why set up the interview in the first place if Clemens himself had nothing new to say? There’s got to be a larger plan from Grabowski, right?…Right?

Grabowski did do his job during his segment, getting Clemens’ message out, but many seemed to miss his interview altogether. In the end, this entire thing seemed to be a colossal disaster for Clemens and Grabowski. The overall strategy seemed to be ‘Hey we’re Roger’s new PR firm and we have to recommend something, he can’t do nothing’, when that’s exactly what Clemens should have continued doing.

Why not let Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez continue to steal the steroid headlines? Now everyone knows about the new York Daily News book, which Grabowski admitted in his interview brings no new information or accusations against Clemens, and public sentiment towards Clemens might be at an all-time low, if that’s possible. I guess we’ll have to wait for another shoe to drop if this episode is going to prove to be a smart move.

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Written by Brian Gleason

May 13, 2009 at 11:09 pm

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