New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz wears a Yankee Jersey and cowboy hat as he leads a prayer session with Fernando Mateo, President of Hispanics Across America, on Thursday for embattled New York Yankees Star Alex Rodriguez.Bryan Llenas
Dozens of Hispanic protesters joined New York State Senator, and reverend, Rubén Díaz Sr. outside Major League Baseball's New York City headquarters on Thursday.
"We come to you, Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ," Díaz said, speaking into a bullhorn and alternating between English and Spanish. "We know, Lord Jesus, that you will do justice."
The object of the prayers was one of the most highly paid people on the planet, embattled New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez. Díaz, wearing a Yankee shirt and a cowboy hat, led dozens of Latinos and ministers from the National Hispanic Clergy of New York in a prayer session calling for justice for A-Rod.
People bowed their heads and some said, "Bless Alex and his family going through injustices." Others joined Díaz in singing the hymn, "Ay Poder en Jesus," ("There Is Strength in Jesus"). Protestors also chanted in unison, "Alex querido, el pueblo está contigo" – "Dear Alex, the people are with you!"
Rodriguez is appealing a 211-game suspension issued by MLB commissoner Bud Selig for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. On Wednesday, he walked out in the middle of his arbitration hearing, outraged that arbitrator Frederic Horowitz refused to order Selig to testify.
"I'm done. I don't have a chance," Rodriguez said during an interview on the radio station, WFAN.
"Punish him accordingly. You don't put someone on the electric chair for smacking someone," said Fernando Mateo, president of Hispanics Across America, a group that has organized pro-Rodriguez protests. "Why is it Bud Selig took a 211-game suspension out of a rabbit hat? We are seeking justice. We need them to punish someone based on the crime they have committed."
Protestors held signs reading, "Bud Selig. The True Story. Founder of the Steroid Era" and "Selig you are the accuser not MLB. Testify, coward!"
"We are not telling anyone whether they are guilty or innocent," Díaz said. "We are just praying for justice to be done; 211 games is too much. Just give him the punishment he deserves. Bud Selig should come. He has to come. He cannot impose a trial as an accuser and not be here. He should be here. This is a mockery. This is a farce."
Díaz went on to call the entire suspension process "racist."
"Take this out of here, and take it to federal court," he said.
"We are praying to God to make sure he brings light into a dark room full of a lot of questions," said Mateo, pointing to the MLB building where the arbitration hearing has been taking place. "We know that our prayers will lighten up the room and shed some light on the injustice being done."
Many of the protesters told Fox News Latino they believe MLB is going after Rodriguez harshly because he is a Hispanic.
"They don't want Alex to break the records of white Americans," said Joanna, a 73-year-old Dominican-American and a lifelong Yankee fan from the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, who refused to provide her surname for unspecified reasons. "If Alex gets kicked off the Yankees, I leave the Yankees."
Díaz said he didn't think it was inappropriate to hold a prayer session for A-Rod when New York City and the world is dealing with more serious issues like poverty.
"We have prayed already for the people in Manilla," Díaz said, referring to the recent typhoon that hit the Philippines. "Everybody is important."
"God doesn't know the difference between between rich and poor," minister Luis Rodríguez, a 56-year-old Dominican native and fan of the Yankees, said. "God goes where there is injustice."
Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) and a reporter for Fox News Latino (FNL).
Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.