Little Leaguers and longtime baseball fans alike reacted with disappointment Monday as they learned Major League Baseball suspended New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs.
"As a baseball fan, I think it's embarrassing that the top headlines are . . . 'steroids,' " John Santamaria, 22, of Farmingdale said outside Dave & Buster's restaurant. "You want to talk about the playoffs and the World Series and the good things about the game, but instead you're talking about things that make the fans unhappy."
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Rodriguez has said he will appeal the 211-game suspension, but several fans said his involvement in MLB's steroid probe has tarnished the image they once held of the all-star athlete.
"I pretty much wanted to be him growing up," said Andre Ruiz, 22, of Manhattan as he dined at Dave & Buster's. "Baseball is a great American sport. I'm happy they're stepping up, but it doesn't look like the clean sport it should be."
Ruiz said Rodriguez should be suspended for life, and while fans debated whether the league's penalty was excessive or not far-reaching enough, most hoped the sanctions would send a signal to other athletes to not use illegal substances.
"I'm in favor of whatever MLB does," said Kevin Baez, a former New York Mets player and manager of the Long Island Ducks, as he spent time coaching at the Long Island Sports Academy baseball camp in Bohemia. "For MLB, it's an unfortunate situation with the steroid era, but they need to clean it up."
Another camp coach and Malverne High School varsity baseball coach, Tim Young, said the suspension is fitting because of the impression it has on young people.
"Hopefully, what they see is when they do something wrong, they are held accountable," Young said.
Micheal Furino, 28, owner of the North Shore Athletics Club, which runs a summer baseball league in Port Washington, said he would use A-Rod's suspension as a learning tool for the children who play in the league.
"The kids in the program ask, and I tell them you don't want to look up to a guy like this," Furino said.
At Woodbury Sports, Rodriguez merchandise has gone untouched and sales of Yankees paraphernalia have dropped by about 50 percent this season as other marquee players, including Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, deal with injuries, said store owner Justin Abbott.
"It's been a rough year for baseball," Abbott said.
With Laura Figueroa