Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/21/13
DETROIT - Miguel Cabrera, baseball's incredibly underexposed superstar, got a little taste of the Hollywood life Friday morning. Cabrera took part in a movie-like production for a 90-second commercial to promote the launch of the Fox Sports 1 television network. He's one of the top athletes featured in the spot that will be aired for the first time July 16 during FOX's telecast of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It was a rare publicity venture for the Detroit Tigers' Triple-Crown winning hitting machine. "We were looking at the guys that were really at the top of their game who aren't saturated in the media," said Bill Battin, senior vice president for marketing for FOX Sports. "Miguel, for whatever reason, falls into that." While Cabrera was the face chosen to represent baseball, others who willappear inthe commercial include Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, Southern California football coach Lane Kiffin, Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III, St. John's basketball coach Steve Lavin, mixed-martial arts fighter Georges St-Pierre, boxer Saul "Canelo"Alvarez, women's soccer player Alex Morgan and NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne. Cabrera's familiar smiling face and happy-go-lucky approach fit perfectly into the "Happy Days Are Here Again" theme for this commercial and the FOX Sports 1 network, which hits the airwaves starting August 17. FS1, an all-sports network, is FOX's answer to ESPN. "Our brand strategy behind the new network is it's time for sports to be fun again," Battin said. "When we say fun, it's not the goofy, comical-type of fun. It's what makes sports fun." Cabrera, with extras around him decked out in Tigers and New York Yankees uniforms, taped segments in which he pretended to get brushed back by a pitch before hitting the game-winning home runand then getting mobbed byhis stand-in teammates at the plate. Another scene showed him sitting in the dugout. "In the first part of spot, Miguel Cabrera is going to get brushed back with a pitch, Georges St-Pierre is on the wrong end of a body slam,Joe Flacco gets blindsided," Battin explained. At that point, the athletes get a little look in their eye and vow thatthey're going to start having"some fun." "The end of the spot is all the triumphant scenes like Miguel hitting the walk-off," Battin said. "That's what makes sports fun. The highs and the lows, the peaks and the valleys." The Comerica Park segment was the last of six shoots in 10 days across the country, including Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. (NASCAR), Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (soccer), the Gaylen Center on Southern California's campus (basketball and boxing) and the Los Angeles Coliseum (football). It's the biggest production of this nature ever for FOX Sports, and nobody in sports these days is more deserving of playingthe role. Cabrera isn't the type who goes looking for this type of attention. If anything, he tries to avoid it. He seems very content with just doing his thing in the batter's box and not worrying about becoming the face for some product on TV. No press is good press in his world. A language barrier for the 30-year-old Venezuelan, who often speaks in broken English and can be difficult to understand, isanother major factorthat explains why oneof the game's all-time greatest hittersdoesn't get the endorsements and publicity that's typical for such a talented athlete in this generation. In this case, his lines - along with the other athletes - were limited to some variation of the general "let's go have some fun" theme. For the most part, Cabrera seemed to have a good time during the two hours that he spent filming the three scenes. He cracked jokes with the extras and at one point had them all laughing when he good-naturedly poked fun at the director's height. "It's awesome," Cabrera, who is hitting .359 with 19 homers and 71 RBI, said of the commercial opportunity. "Let's have fun and do something special. They told me there's going to be a lot of superstars. It's nice to be there." Maybe this is just the beginning for him in terms of increasing exposure. "I think it is," Battin said. When Cabrera was asked afterward if he wanted to do more of these types of things, he just smiled and said, "I don't know, man." In some ways, Cabrera's attitude is very refreshing. It's all about baseball for this guy. For at least one day, though, he gave in and embraced a little extra publicity on the side. It was good for him, good for baseball and really, really good for FOX Sports 1.
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