NY Yankees fans ready to see A-Rod go after ban

News of the Alex Rodriguez suspension left a bittersweet taste
in the mouths of New York baseball fans Monday, hours before the
slugger’s first game with the Yankees since his hip surgery.

As the team prepared to face the Chicago White Sox, emotions
about the return of the 38-year-old third baseman ranged from
unconditional love to outright disdain.

”They should ban him for life and take his money – even the
millions they owe him,” said Edgar Rivera, a Puerto Rican-born New
Yorker who describes himself as ”a die-hard Yankees fan since the
1970s, whether they win or lose.”

”I feel cheated; nobody was seeing anything,” Rivera said, his
face twisted with anger. ”The MLB is to blame too. I mean,
c’mon!”

But Jersey City, N.J., resident Luis Velazquez, who was visiting
the Yankees store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, said he’d wear his
Rodriguez No. 13 jersey while watching the game at home.

After the 211-game suspension was announced Monday by Major
League Baseball, A-Rod’s jersey was prominently displayed by the
entrance. But the store hadn’t sold any as of late afternoon.

”I don’t care what people think, I still love A-Rod,”
Velazquez said with a wry grin. ”He’s a nice guy; he made a
mistake – I don’t know what happened in his mind – and he’s paying
for it.”

Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz,
Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece
Monday when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug
case – the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal
nearly a century ago.

A total of 18 players have been sanctioned for their
relationships to a closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of
distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez says
he’ll appeal his suspension.

Many Yankees fans say they’re ready to see the star slugger
go.

Jarett Anderson, an employee of a Modell’s sports store in
midtown Manhattan, said baseball’s highest-paid player ”should
just leave the team; the Yankees should just let him go. Why keep
him playing?”

At the Yankees store, Velazquez was worried about Rodriguez as a
bad role model for young fans.

”When you play baseball and you love the game, you’re supposed
to play it straight,” he said. ”What will kids think now?”

Rodriguez is set to appeal his career-crippling drug ban as he
resumes playing with the team, saying he’s going ”to give them my
best.”

It took a die-hard fan of the New York Mets – the Yankees’
age-old opponents – to offer a dispassionate look at the Rodriguez
drama.

Jonathan Goldstein, who grew up in Queens near the Mets’ old
Shea Stadium, said it’s ”interesting how the team just shut him
out. They said, we’re not going to talk to you.”

However, he noted, ”they protected him at first, and then they
disowned him.”