By Bianca Uribe
New York, N.Y.
TRENTON—On Aug. 3, the Trenton Thunder played the Reading Fightin Phils in front of perhaps the most divided crowd ever. Unfortunately for the few diehard Thunder fans in attendance, the score of the game wasn’t the main event.
Alex Rodriguez, longtime third baseman for the New York Yankees, played for the Double-A Thunder in an effort to rehabilitate a hip injury. At the same time, unrelated to his hip injury, Rodriguez awaited a decision from Major League Baseball about a suspension related to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Sports fans expected that Rodriguez would face a long suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs, among other allegations, and that it could have been one of his last games ever.
The presence of Rodriguez filled the stands with proud supporters and angry critics. Fans came to Trenton from at least as far as Florida to witness what was to be one of Rodriquez’s last games for a while. On Aug. 5, MLB announced the official suspension: 211 games. Rodriguez is filing an appeal.
Plenty of spectators in the crowd were extremely critical. “Alex Rodriguez is an [expletive], and he doesn’t deserve [to play],” shouted one red-faced teenager named Dom Lenza.
But some spectators said they genuinely believed in him. “I have followed him since childhood, and I just think that to bash him would just be wrong,” said Ryan Clutter, a 22-year-old fan.
Rodriguez occasionally held his hands behind his back or kicked the dirt, nervous habits that were highlighted by the bright lights and the small size of the stadium. His hopeful fans displayed their support by clapping loudly and shouting, “I love you A-Rod!” just before he went up to bat.
The one-time slugger walked four times.