By Corky Siemaszko, DAILY NEWS
February 17, 2009
A-Rod is a chokeup artist.
That was verdict Tuesday from body language experts and top image consultants who watched Alex Rodriguez try to separate himself from a steroids scandal that has knocked him off his pedestal.
The harshest criticism came from Joseph Tecce, a psychology professor and body language expert at Boston College, who called the Yankees slugger’s 33-minute appearance a “put-on.”
“I have not seen a more controlled, contrived press conference ever in my life,” said Tecce, who based part of his conclusion on the rate at which Rodriguez blinked.
Most of the time, he said, people blink 30 to 50 times a minute – and the blink rate goes up under stress.
“Alex Rodriguez was at 20 blinks per minute during one of the most critical moments of his life,” Tecce said. “That’s evidence to me of how well-rehearsed he was.”
Rodriguez also “played the naive card repeatedly.”
“He’d retreat to phrases like ‘young and stupid’ and look down, so as not to look at the questioner,” Tecce said.
Sonya Hamlin, author of “How to Talk So People Listen,” thought “that part of it was genuine … he didn’t know what to do with his face.”
The rest, however, “didn’t wash.”
“He wasn’t straight. He didn’t level,” Hamlin said. “I don’t think he put the steroid scandal to rest. It wasn’t enough for him to say that he was young and ignorant, because everybody knows he wasn’t 18 when he was injected.”
Barbara Laskin, President of Laskin Media in Manhattan, disagreed. She said Rodriguez hit some home runs and may have “put Pandora back in her box.”
“I think he scored highest when he pleaded for understanding,” she said.
“He really elevated himself with the very last thing he said, when he looked straight out and said he simply missed being a baseball player.”
It’s when Rodriguez was asked for specifics about his steroid abuse that he began tripping over his tongue, Laskin said.
“He scored lowest when he admitted he didn’t know what he was doing, but continued to do it for three years,” Laskin said.
Psychologist Marilyn Puder-York, who works with another much-maligned group – Wall Streeters – said Rodriguez had the deck stacked against him before he began speaking.
“People are generally resentful of him because of the money he’s paid and his inability to help get the team to the World Series,” Puder-York said.
So what he said doesn’t really matter. “It’s what he does now to merit the public’s respect that matters,” she said.