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updated: 8/6/2013 10:20 PM

Booing Alex Rodriguez got at the Cell just the beginning

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  • The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez walks through the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning Monday night at Cellular Field in Chicago.

      The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez walks through the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning Monday night at Cellular Field in Chicago.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Dale Sveum on the suspensions

 
 

The chips fell where they were expected to Monday.

Major League Baseball suspended Alex Rodriguez through the 2014 season for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Rodriguez responded by filing an appeal and playing third base for the Yankees against the White Sox in Comiskey Park.

"For me," Rodriguez said, "it'll be business as usual. My focus is to help this team win."

Hah!

Rodriguez's focus wasn't worth any more than his image was on this night. The Sox ended a 10-game losing streak by trouncing the Yankees 8-1.

Fans booed Rodriguez persistently and mercilessly. The only cheers he heard were for making an out.

"In our world," Joe Girardi said, "you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty."

Even the Yankees' manager had to concede that it doesn't always work that way. To baseball fans, Rodriguez is guilty until proven innocent.

"A lot of things have been thrown to the wall," A-Rod said. "There will be a time (for the other side of the story)."

It's difficult to know what Rodriguez's end game is.

Is it to clear his name? Is it to salvage as much of the approximately $100 million left on his contract? Is it to be allowed to play long enough to break home run records?

None of those chips are expected to fall where Rodriguez would like. Even if one does he still will be perceived as a cheater the way Roger Clemens is.

Regardless, eyes will be fixated on A-Rod every time he puts on the pinstripes: With whom is he interacting? Is he standing straight during the national anthem? Which way is his "NY" cap cocked?

Most in and out of the game would prefer not having to look at Rodriguez at all. But as long as he's playing, his past will dominate the present and future.

A-Rod lost so much credibility over the years that he makes Bud Selig -- the original commissioner of steroids now billing himself as the commissioner of cleanup -- look like a beacon of integrity.

As only Rodriguez can, however, he portrays himself as a victim worthy of sympathy. He mentions his health problems, sounds unjustly accused of using banned substances and smiles that sad smile that is A-Rod being A-Rod.

By now most observers believe Alex Rodriguez is nothing more than Alex Rodriguez. To them that translates into an embarrassment to baseball, a winner who became a loser and a golden boy who became fool's gold.

Public opinion is destined to view him as the sign in the left-field bleachers claimed he is: "C-H-E-A-T-E-R!"

While Rodriguez warmed up on the field about 15 minutes before the first pitch, an especially loud fan could be heard throughout the ballpark chanting "P-E-D!"

Rodriguez was booed during his entire first at-bat. He was booed after blooping a single. He was booed running the bases.

Maybe the reaction was due to this being Rodriguez's first game off the disabled list this season. Then again, maybe fans were just warming him up for what's to come as he tours the American League.

If A-Rod is lucky, he will lose the appeal, be banned from baseball and be spared the abuse. He doesn't see it that way, of course. In his mind, he will win the appeal and win back the fans that consider him "A-Fraud."

To Rodriguez's credit he did attempt damage control by signing autographs for dozens of fans hanging over the first-base railing. Not that the goodwill gesture mattered. Those were the same fans who booed him about a half-hour later.

As most baseball fans can be expected to do as long as he plays.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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