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You don’t have to be a baseball aficionado to know that a New York Yankees player named Alex Rodriguez, aka “A-Rod”, has been a bit of PR trouble recently.

In early August, Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games—one of the longest in Major League Baseball history.  Having appealed the suspension which resulted from the Biogenesis investigation that uncovered several MLB players using performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez has been allowed to continue playing until arbitrators make a final decision.

Rodriguez’s appeal has garnered much wrath with many issuing stinging rebukes like this: “His appeal is not based on exculpation, but on trying to collect as many paychecks as possible before the guillotine drops.”  Another player from the Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, was also suspended during the same investigation and agreed to a 65 game suspension as a result of his involvement.  The key difference between Braun and Rodriguez in how they’re dealing with their respective suspensions?  A dose of humility.

Braun has been personally calling fans including season and partial-season ticket holders, and individual buyers.  According to the Milwaukee Brewers’ chief operating officer, Rick Schlesinger, “It was his idea. He came to us and said he wanted to call fans,” adding that “He expects some fans will still be angry with him and tell him so on the phone. He wanted to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.

Skeptics doubt the genuineness of Braun’s gesture, but as a non-sports fan, I know a good PR move when I see or read one.  Reaching out to the fans who make it possible for players like Braun and Rodriguez to collect multi-million dollar paychecks, is never a bad idea.  One would hope that the bad and ugly feedback Braun is receiving on the other end of the line will drive home the point that every good PR professional knows—understanding and engaging with your audience matters.  A-Rod might want to consider borrowing a page from this playbook…just a thought.

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