NEW YORK -- New York State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz said Thursday he believes Major League Baseball is being "discriminatory" with its 211-game suspension of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Diaz, along with State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa and Hispanics Across America president Fernando Mateo, went on the offensive against baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Yankees president Randy Levine during a news conference outside the MLB offices on Park Avenue.
"I'm here in support of Alex Rodriguez and what Fernando Mateo is trying to do, to be sure a member of our community gets justice," said Diaz, who is a minister and president of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization. "I think that 211 games is unprecedented, unfair, unjust. And I think it's discriminatory too. I think that other people who have done worse have gotten less punishment."
The elected officials joined Mateo and a group of approximately 50 protesters outside MLB's offices, interacting with the group before a chant in Spanish of "Alex, we love you ... Our people are with you" started. The group, which brought a bevy of signs, had been chanting for Rodriguez since early morning.
Espaillat, who said he's a Yankees fan and grew up within walking distance of Yankee Stadium, called for Selig's resignation. He said Selig should be held fully responsible for the steroid problems within baseball. Mateo also shared similar sentiments as Espaillat. Selig is retiring after 2014.
"Major League Baseball has not done a good job at policing the steroid crisis, and it has festered under Bud Selig," Espaillat said. "He should step down immediately. Today. Right now. We shouldn't allow him to just exit in so called glory and retire. There is an asterisk next to Bud Selig's name forever."
Mateo took shots at Levine for allegedly wanting out of the 10-year, $275 million contract Rodriguez signed prior to the 2008 season. Rodriguez still has four years left on that deal. Diaz said he was not there to criticize Levine, and Espaillat did not believe that Levine was the problem. Diaz, when asked, said he did not agree with a sign being displayed that read "Randy Levine is the devil."
"Shame on Randy Levine for trying to renege on [Rodriguez's] contract. A contract that he signed. I consider not very intelligent to give a 10-year contract to a 33-year-old aging ballplayer knowing at 43 the guy isn't going to see the balls anymore," Mateo said. "Now, at 38, he wants him out of the game so the Yankees can save $100 million and he can get a big bonus. That's unacceptable as well."
Mateo has offered no proof behind the bonus allegation.
Mateo and the officials said they wanted to make sure that Rodriguez receives a fair hearing and isn't unfairly punished.
"If [Rodriguez] is found guilty, we're not looking for them to do nothing," Mateo said. "What we want them to do is treat him fairly like they're treated all the other ballplayers during the reign of Bud Selig."