Marketwired Blog

A-Rod is Stirring Up Controversy in the MLB

If you’re a baseball fan at all, you’ve no doubt heard the controversy around the New York Yankees star, Alex Rodriguez.

It’s been an interesting year for the baseball superstar. He started off the year by getting hip surgery on an old injury. This was his second time getting this surgery so his recovery time was to be longer than usual. When the 2013 season started, A-Rod was to still be on the disabled list and unable to play. At the beginning of July he was finally cleared to start playing the game, but because he had missed spring training and the first almost half of the season, he had to start in the minor leagues. Days before he was set to return to the major league stage, he suffered another minor injury which prolonged his return for a few more days. The Yankees ball club didn’t think that he was fit to return due to this latest injury, but Rodriguez sought the opinion of outside doctor who said he was fine. This stirred up some controversy in the club about who can say if he can play. But this was nothing compared to what was about to come.

Days after this first controversy, another one surfaced. On the day that A-Rod was finally scheduled to make his return to the Yankees, MLB issued a number of suspensions to baseball players across the league who were involved with a company called Biogenesis that was giving players performance enhancing drugs. Among the players named was Rodriguez. However, the league had also found information that A-Rod had tried to hide evidence of him being involved with Biogenesis and led them to give him the longest suspension a player has ever received. MLB suspended A-Rod for a record breaking 211 games, which would mean he wouldn’t be able to play through the 2013 and 2014 season. This is the longest suspension ever handed to player besides a full out life-time ban from the sport. And if that wasn’t headline grabbing enough, A-Rod put in an appeal to the suspension which actually allowed him to play until the appeal has been heard and ruled on.

So, on August 5th, the day most players involved in the Biogenesis scandal started their suspensions, A-Rod made his season debut.

This was such an interesting story that I had to do a little digging around to see what people were saying in the social world using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software.

Doing a search for  mentions of Alex Rodriguez over the past month brought up an astounding 1.4 million hits. The third baseman was mentioned in 22,497 blog posts, 46,201 online news articles, 25,172 forum postings and 1,395,569 tweets in just 30 days.

When I trended these mentions out over time, we were able to see spikes in conversation around the interesting points of this story. At the beginning of the popularity chart we can see two small spikes around July 24th. This was when A-Rod challenged the team doctor by getting his second opinion about his injury. The largest spike, on August 5th, was the day that suspensions were handed out to players, including A-Rod, who also managed to still make his season debut that night. Of course, a story like that caused a great deal of talk. Lastly, we can see another spike in conversation from just days ago on August 18th. This past Sunday, in a game against long time rivals, the Boston Red Sox, pitcher Ryan Dempster hit Rodriguez which sparked a controversy as to whether it was on purpose or not as many players are upset with A-Rod for bringing a bad name to the sport of baseball with all the controversy around him.

In fact, that one pitch from Dempster caused such a stir across major league baseball that news of it became the most retweeted tweet about A-Rod over the entire past month. That’s quite impressive given the amount of other talk that had been happening about the player in that same period of time. Later in that game, A-Rod hit a home run off of Dempster, which then went on to become the sixth most retweeted tweet about him. In between those two tweets we can see talk about the suspension and performance enhancing drugs, including a shot from former player and admitted drug taker Jose Canseco.

But of course, Twitter is the best to share quick news and funny jabs. When I looked at the text analytics from across all social channels, the suspension story is what has taken center stage. A look at our buzzgraph shows lots of talk about “Biogenesis,” “PEDs” (Performance Enhancing Drugs), and “suspensions.” We can also see talk of most players’ “50-game” suspensions as they are being compared to A-Rod’s whopping “211-game” suspension. Also, it’s interesting to notice the words “ban” and “banning” as there was a lot of talk as to if A-Rod would recieve a lifetime ban for his tampering with the investigation.

Whichever way the appeal for Alex Rodriguez goes, it’s apparent that fans aren’t too happy about everything that is going on. In fact, 33% of all the talk around A-Rod has been negative.

What do you think? Does the social world have the right idea about Alex Rodriguez?

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