In New York, A-Rod defended, vilified
Passionate fans react while watching interview
NEW YORK -- Reaction from fans watching Alex Rodriguez admit his use of performance-enhancing drugs to Peter Gammons on ESPN Monday evening was mixed, as might be expected in a city of such passionate fans.
"He's a cheater," said Andras Droste, a New Jersey native who roots for the Red Sox after going to school at Boston's Northeastern University. "About time he 'fessed up to it. The funny thing about this it seems Jose Canseco has been right all along."
"Don't say they did nothing!" Thomas Oppeheim shouted after Gammons asked Rodriguez what effect the steroids had.
Droste and Oppenheim provided a good representation of the anti-Rodriguez contingent at the ESPNZone in Times Square, but their view was hardly the only one.
Randy Mitchell, a Rangers fan from Dallas, holds no ill will toward Rodriguez.
"I thought he was a great player before this, and he's still a great player," Mitchell said. "I think the amount of money he makes gets under a lot of people's skin."
"I've never been an A-Rod guy," said David Johnson, a 47-year-old Yankees fan from the Bronx who lives in Queens. "But he looks normal. It's hard to believe."
Asked if he would boo Rodriguez, who appeared at times pensive and at other times uncomfortable, Johnson, said, "I've never booed a Yankee." Asked if that would change now, he said, "No."
Rodriguez's ESPN interview came in the wake of Saturday's SI.com report that, while with the Texas Rangers, he was one of 104 players who failed a drug test supposed to be part of an anonymous screening process.
Rodriguez admitted the use of performance-enhancing drugs to Gammons but didn't specify which ones he took. He also said his drug use was limited to the three seasons he spent in Texas, 2001-03.
Fans were skeptical of that assertion.
"Come on," Oppenheim said. "Give me a break. Maybe not his whole career, but definitely through at least 2005 or 2006."
"It can go either way," said Timothy Denney, an Angels fan who grew up in Southern California but now lives in Colorado. "But I find it hard to believe that he didn't do it after his time in Texas."
Other fans felt that none of baseball's drug revelations to be out of the ordinary. "Sports and drug use go together like peanut butter and jelly," said Alex Schuster. "Taking steroids is a risk. You risk that you'll get caught for a chance at a leg up. It's like insider trading in the stock market. Every profession has it."
Did Rodriguez agree to this interview to help his chances at election into the Hall of Fame? "I don't think they'll keep him out," Mitchell said. "His admission will make it a clearer decision. People can either forget it or it can cause them to keep it out.
"If he hadn't admitted it, there would have been a cloud of uncertainty."
Fans agreed Rodriguez is due for a rude reception on the road and at home. Even Mitchell.
"I think they'll boo him at Yankee Stadium now until he's not there," he said.
"He's going to hear it in all the Major League parks," Droste said. "Especially Fenway, Yankee and Texas. He's going to get ripped apart in Fenway."
"They didn't like him to start with in Boston," said Red Sox fan John Walsh. "I don't think it can get any worse."
Oppenheim, an Orioles fan from Brooklyn, promised he would boo if he went to any Yankees-Orioles games in Baltimore.
"Definitely," he said. "That's why I'm going. I boo Miguel Tejada. I'm old-school. I grew up with Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Mickey Mantle, Tom Seaver, Mike Schmidt, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Roger Maris.
"Numbers are the most sacred part of the game. Guess what? Now they're tainted."
Not everyone at the restaurant saw what the fuss was all about. "We have soccer," said Gsaskia Schmitt, who was visiting from Kassel, Germany. "This isn't a problem in soccer."
"It's nice to see someone come out and admit it," said Kentucky native Josh Casey. "But he still cheated."
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.