Making A-Rod more like Mike
Editor's Note: This story appears in the May 21 edition of ESPN The Magazine.
Scott Boras darts into his field-level executive box at Angel Stadium to tell his staff to switch the TV channel. "A-Rod just hit another one," he says. Someone finds the Yankees-Devil Rays game as Rodriguez rounds third base, reaching 14 home runs in a season faster than anyone else in history.
The Newport Beach-based Boras Corp. is fully invested in A-Rod's transformation. Boras won't comment on what his superstar client has done to change his game plan, but he does admit to using another superagent as a model on which to reshape A-Rod's image.
"I admired David Falk," Boras says, referring to the man who helped Michael Jordan dominate the NBA the way A-Rod dominated baseball in April. "He had the greatest athlete and helped guide him to become an icon."
The Falk-Jordan footprint is one Boras is happy to follow, especially when it comes to PR. Boras notes that Jordan was a media master, never giving reporters or opponents ammunition to use against him. It was Falk who was the man behind The Man.
"Michael Jordan never talked about himself other than as a basketball player," Boras says.
It's all part of the plan. Recently, when Rodriguez was asked about his contract, he looked straight at the writer and said, "A few years ago, I'd have given you a three-paragraph quote on that, but not anymore." After his 14th home run, he offers reporters little insight. "I think hard work and grinding through it and supporting your teammates are the most important things," he tells the media scrum.
No more long, rambling self-reflections about his psyche. This pleases Boras. Better that A-Rod's transformation be a mystery, the agent says; the fewer tabloid stories about his relationship with Derek Jeter or his annual salary or his postseason struggles, the better.
Scrolling his BlackBerry for A-Rod's latest stat line (4-for-5, 2 HRs, .400 batting average), Boras can't help but smile. "We're on the same page now," he says.
Matthew Cole is a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.