A-Rod, MLB Network win big at Sports Emmys

A-Rod, MLB Network win big at Sports Emmys

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez earned a World Series ring, three Most Valuable Player Awards, 14 All-Star selections, two Gold Gloves, 10 Silver Sluggers, four Hank Aaron Awards, and a slew of other hardware including weekly and monthly honors, but the award he celebrated on Tuesday night at the 38th annual Sports Emmys was something totally new.

Now you can call him "award-winning broadcaster Alex Rodriguez."

It was a fabulous night for baseball at the glitzy event hosted by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall in Manhattan. MLB Network racked up four Sports Emmys, including a record 28th for Bob Costas, and A-Rod shared in the jubilation as "MLB on FOX: The Postseason" won for Outstanding Studio Show -- Limited Run. He and Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, his fellow studio analyst, had red-carpet fun posing with the gleaming trophy, as if it was a clinch celebration.

"It's great to be doing it with guys you love so much and respect so much," Rodriguez told MLB.com during the show. "We've become a very close family -- both on-set and all of the great support we have backstage in helping us out. It's fun, pretty special.

"That's the great thing about us. No matter whether we're in a restaurant or in the green room prepping or on-air, we're exactly the same. And I think the fans at home really appreciate that."

Costas, who represented MLB Network and NBC/NBCSN in winning Outstanding Sports Personality, called Rodriguez "an absolute natural." Can there be a higher praise?

"I thought A-Rod was a natural the first time I saw him on television," Costas said. "He's called me and a few other people and said, 'What advice could you offer?' I'm always happy to offer advice to someone if there's any I can give. And really I said, 'You're already there.' The Emmy, although it's a group thing, is further proof of that.

"He's an absolute natural. Not only his knowledge of the game, but the fact that he played it so recently, he's talking about players he played with and against, and he has a mastery not only of how to express himself, but he seems to know where the camera is, doesn't need any coaching. It's as if he's been doing it as long as he's been playing baseball.

"So he doesn't need my help. I just sit back and appreciate what he does."

Rodriguez was given two tickets just in case, but Jennifer Lopez was unable to accompany him. He was a presenter during the ceremony, and he said on the red carpet before the event began, "I'm a rookie. I'm certainly enjoying it. I love being with FOX. They treat me like family. It was a big risk coming in the first year, I didn't know what to expect, but I'm two years into it and I'm having a good time."

Putting on that award-winning studio analyst hat, Rodriguez turned his attention to his former club, noting that the Yankees began the night with baseball's best record. He retired from the club last August and, as a special advisor for the Yankees, is happy to see the same players he worked with during Spring Training faring so well at this point in the season.

A-Rod's coaching role

"They were my pick to click in our FOX Spring Training," Rodriguez said. "But I gotta tell you, anyone who tells you that they knew they were going to be this good, no matter what an optimist you are, they've surprised people. They are for real. They're here to stay.

"Just the dominance. From top to bottom. They have a great mix, they have a great roster. They're deep. They're playing great baseball."

Rodriguez has a long way to go to catch Costas.

"If there's anything you can take a legitimate amount of pride in ... it's that over a long period of time, and in various categories, I've at least been considered," Costas said. "So I've been grouped with these talented people for a long period of time. And if you can take some legitimate satisfaction, it would be that.

"But in terms of winning any given year, any of the nominees were worthwhile and worthy recipients, and I was just lucky enough to be the guy who got them."

Thomas said of Rodriguez: "Trust me, he works hard. We have a lot of fun. He's loosened up with us, which is great. He's doing great."

MLB Network has now won 29 Sports Emmys since its inception in 2009. It was nominated 14 times this year, bringing the total nominations to 93. MLB Network's four Sports Emmys tied ESPN and CBS. FS1 won nine, FOX won seven, and HBO and NBC claimed five apiece.

MLB Network won the first award of the night, the George Wensel Technical Achievement Award. That award, shared with DirecTV, was for the MLB Network Showcase 4K/HD Dualcast. MLB Network's second award was for Outstanding Life Event Audio/Sound, for "MLB on FOX," in conjunction with FOX and FS1. Its third award was for Outstanding Technical Team Studio, recognizing its infrastructure that supports so much around-the-clock studio programming.

Emmy's: George Wensel Award

As always, there were many stirring moments during the Sports Emmys. Craig Sager was posthumously awarded with Outstanding Sports Personality -- Sports Reporter, and that announcement was followed by a standing ovation from the industry crowd. Longtime play-by-play man Brent Musberger received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and he closed his speech by saying: "In the end, what is left is family."

MLB.com was among the nominees in the category of Outstanding Digital Innovation (won by Oculus), with its Virtual Reality product called "Chasing History: Making Reality Real Time." From the first clinch through the final out of the historic World Series, MLB Advanced Media's VR team was there, building a library of unprecedented content for fans to engage in almost immediately after their teams celebrated their most important victories. Fans embraced the new effort, which allowed them a presence felt like never before -- all to the tune of millions of views and shares across these unique VR platforms.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.