Baseball’s steroids scandals have a way of pumping fans up. Chicago White Sox fans dutifully vented their ‘roid rage at Alex Rodriguez this week, raining boos on the Yankees star after he had been hit with a 211-game suspension, pending appeal, for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and what the league described as efforts to obstruct an investigation.
The Major League Baseball Players Association formally appealed Rodriguez’s suspension on Wednesday, a move that will likely allow him to play the rest of the season, including a return to Yankee Stadium Friday night. New York tabloid headlines may have urged A-Rod to just go away, but the Daily News, while sending a not-so-subtle message to fans, also reported that the number of tickets for Friday’s game available in the secondary market had plunged, and prices were up nearly 25 percent.
Whether those ticketholders turn out to boo, cheer or just be part of the moment, it’s clear that, in an otherwise mediocre season for the Yankees, scandal still sells. To that point: The Yankees’ television ratings for Monday night’s game, when Rodriguez made his return, were the highest of the season.
On the other hand, with Rodriguez’s legacy now even more tainted than it had been after his initial admission that he had used PEDs while with the Texas Rangers, the value of his collectible memorabilia has taken another hit, as Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
The market for A-Rod’s No. 13 official jerseys had already been falling off. Rodriguez ranked ninth on Major League baseball’s list of top-selling jerseys in 2010. He was 15th on the 2011 list, and failed to make the top 20 in baseball’s most recent list.
Sports is supposed to be about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but every so often those basics of fandom get overrun by the sensation of scandal. And Alex Rodriguez is not the only example from recent years, just the latest. For a look back at other scandals that shook the sports world – and sometimes reverberated far beyond – click here.