By Brenda Flanagan
Alex Rodriguez finally struck out with Major League Baseball — suspended for using “numerous prohibited performance-enhancing drugs,” according to Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, and for trying to “cover up his violations.”
The crowd booed its disapproval as Rodriguez came up to bat at Saturday’s Trenton Thunder game.
“As much good as he used to do on the baseball field, that’s how much bad he’s done to the game since then,” said Jason Benscher of Manalapan.
“You do want to uphold the integrity of the game. The Major League Baseball organization’s doing everything that they can to really try and crack down on this,” said David Schwartz.
Fans may cry foul, but some young athletes believe PEDs — performance-enhancing drugs — boosted A-Rod’s path to home run glory. And driven by their need to succeed, starry-eyed wanna-bes follow A-Rod’s example.
“I’ve seen people talk about it and even do it. I know those pressures exist. Not me, personally, but I know that it’s a lot more prevalent than people seem to think it is,” said Benscher.
“I think it’s a huge problem nowadays. I wouldn’t even tell my kids anymore to look up to these guys, because it’s just such a mess,” said Frank Morrow.
“He’s a really good player but he took steroids, so I’m not that happy with that,” said Ryan McManus.
New Jersey’s one of only three states that tests its student athletes for PEDs. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association runs 500 random tests annually and reports that, over the past seven years, its rate of positive tests never exceeded 1 percent. But sports officials admit testing’s not fool-proof. So coaches and trainers preach to their teams about the dangers of PEDs.
“We have kids here that, you know, they look up to these guys. And it’s a shame when something like this happens. Some of them have aspirations to get to where they are,” said Craig Stoddard, program director at Parisi Fair Lawn.
Major League Baseball’s 211 game suspension of Rodriguez is reportedly the longest it’s levied for a doping violation. A-Rod’s reaction? “I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process,” he said.
The players’ union vowed to vigorously defend the Yankees’ third baseman who ironically has actually never tested positive for banned PEDs.
His side of the story? “I’ll have an opportunity to tell it all at some point. I’ll have that platform. When the time is right I’ll tell my full story,” Rodriguez said.
In fact, Rodriguez will keep right on playing America’s Game this season, as his team of lawyers appeals his suspension.