Sunday, August 4, 2013

Suspense in Crowd Builds Up Prior to A-Rod's MLB Ban

By Navil Perez (Thornton, CO)

On August 3rd, the second batter for the Trenton Thunder, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, was received by a booing Arm and Hammer Stadium crowd as he made his way towards home plate. Little did he know that the riotous crowd might be the last in his professional baseball career–halfway through the game, ESPN broke the news that Rodriguez might be suspended throughout the 2014 season for illegal drug use.

Playing at the AA level in a rehabilitation assignment after a hip injury, Rodriguez sold out two Thunder games on Friday and Saturday. Due to an ongoing investigation over his use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), Rodriguez faced stands filled with disapproving baseball fans. However, many of the typically empty seats also went to diehard Yankee fans who supported the beleaguered player, including 13-year old Bianca Deamino, who traveled three and a half hours from New York “only for [Rodriguez].”

This unwavering devotion to the former MVP appeared to be a trend amongst Yankee fans anxiously awaiting the final verdict on his suspension. Fellow New Yorker Ryan Glutter, who was wearing a Yankees jersey, also voiced his loyalty to Rodriguez: “I’ve supported him from day one so I am going to continue to support him,” he said.

While none of the fans interviewed agreed with the use of PEDs, the general consensus was that it was not fair for Rodriguez to face a lifetime suspension while others received lesser sentences. Rodriguez was on a leaked list of several athletes who tested positively on an anonymous 2003 drug test. Several fans made comparisons to Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who is only facing a 65-day suspension.

Amidst all the suspense, Rodriguez seemed to maintain a positive attitude. Michael Ercolino, a 13-year-old member of a Philadelphia Little League team, had the opportunity to run down to the field at the beginning of the game. He recalled telling Rodriguez that he felt “bad because of all the stuff that’s happening [in the media].” According to Ercolino, Rodriguez responded with four words of reassurance: “Everything will be fine.”

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