NBC 4 New York
On the same day he was suspended by Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees lineup. Fans were disappointed with the embattled star's actions. Andrew Siff reports.
Yankee fans were mostly disappointed after learning of Alex Rodriguez's suspension Monday for using performance-enhancing drugs and said they were ready to cut ties with the embattled slugger.
"I just want him to go away at this point," said Jordan Lusting of the Upper West Side.
Rodriguez, the Yankees third baseman, a three-time Most Valuable Player and baseball's highest-paid star, was suspended through 2014 when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug case — the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago. The suspension is pending an appeal.
Making his season debut for the Yankees at Chicago White Sox after being sidelined since hip surgery in January, Rodriguez got boos in the Windy City -- and a silent treatment from a big crowd watching TVs at Blondie's on the Upper West Side.
"We'll see how he does when he comes back to Yankee Stadium," said Sid Rivera of Riverdale. "If I were there, I'd boo him."
Amy Miecke of the Upper West Side said: "It really makes me sad that we can't just watch the game and enjoy it. These men get paid so much money to entertain us. And to have to cheat really hurts."
Some expressed doubt that punishment was being doled out equitably by Major League Baseball and wondered whether Rodriguez was unfairly being made an example because of his high profile.
"Most of the players use it, and they don't get suspended," said Bronx native and Yankees fan Jeanette Velez. "So if he gets suspended, they all should get suspended."
Ryan Templeton speculated that Rodriguez's flagging performance played a factor in the scandal.
"It's obvious that the ownership wants to get out of his contract, so that's playing into it," he said. "I don't know that he's doing anything worse than other guys that have been suspended for an entire year, so I really think they should look at other players and not treat him differently."
But it was perhaps the most impressionable fans that struggled most with the news. At the Grand Slam baseball camp in the Bronx, young players were sorry to learn Rodriguez allegedly used banned drugs to boost his performance, then tried to cover it up.
"He's a good player, but he kind of messed up with the steroids and everything," said Jabari Cox.
Luis Abrau said he no longer looked up to Rodriguez as a role model, while Anthony Abrau expressed his outrage more openly.
"I think it's terrible. Why would he do that?" he said. "He's using this drug, maybe kids might look up to him now, and it's just bad that he would do this."
Rodriguez said he would appeal his suspension, which covers 211 games, by Thursday's deadline. And since arbitrator Fredric Horowitz isn't expected to rule until November or December, Rodriguez is free to play the rest of this season.
"I'm fighting for my life," Rodriguez said in a news conference before the series opener at the Chicago White Sox Monday. "If I don't defend myself, no one else will."
The other 12 players have already agreed to their 50-game penalties.
MLB said A-Rod's drug penalty was for "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years."
His punishment under the labor contract was "for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner's investigation."
Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with Texas from 2001-03, but has repeatedly denied using them since.
At the pre-game conference, Rodriguez refused to deny or confirm claims that he has used PEDs. Asked if he had come to terms with the possibility that his career in baseball could be over, he said, "I haven't thought that far ahead."