The baseball world may not be going to bat for the scandal-scarred Alex Rodriguez, but a few elected officials penciled themselves into the ex-superstar’s dwindling lineup of backers.
State Senators Rubén Díaz Sr. and Adriano Espaillat, as well as Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa, appeared today at an encampment of A-Rod supporters outside of Major League Baseball’s headquarters in Manhattan, sources told Politicker.
The group of 50 to 60 individuals were protesting the 211-game suspension Mr. Rodriguez is facing from MLB for his role in a sprawling performance enhancing drug scandal, according to the blog Pinstriped Bible.
As Mr. Rodriguez appeals his suspension in court, backers like Mr. Díaz argued the suspension is simply too harsh, even if the New York Yankees third baseman is guilty.
“I was there because I believe that the punishment given to Alex Rodriguez is unprecedented, abusive, excessive and discriminatory,” Mr. Díaz. told Politicker in a phone interview after the rally. “You know, if you did something wrong, you should be punished. What they’re doing to him is too much. There are people who have done far worse.”
The Bronx state senator wouldn’t clarify how exactly Mr. Rodriguez was being discriminated against, including specifically whether he thought race or ethnicity was factor in the suspension handed down.
“What I’m saying, they are throwing the kitchen and the sink at Alex Rodriguez. It’s uncalled for, it’s discriminatory,” he reiterated.
Mr. Espaillat, however, emphasized he was not expressing outrage about the length of Mr. Rodriguez’s suspension, but protesting MLB’s exploitation of Latino ballplayers abroad.
“Young impressionable athletes in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be lured into using steroids as a path to escaping poverty, and are tricked into trading their health and safety for a shot in the major leagues,” Mr. Espaillat said in a statement. “Missing in action from MLB’s tough talk on steroid abuse is any mention of the industry professionals encouraging and providing these dangerous drugs.”
“A-Rod should be held accountable for actions,” Mr. Espaillat’s spokesman added.
Ms. Rosa’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.