Perhaps not surprisingly, the reactions inside the clubhouses to today’s sweeping suspensions handed down by Major League Baseball for players’ involvement with Biogenesis were very wide-ranging.
Some, like Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche and the Braves’ B.J. Upton, had no interest in discussing the 13 suspensions and the fallout from players getting caught using performance-enhancers.
“I’m so over it. I don’t even care anymore,” LaRoche said. “Literally don’t care.”
Others were willing to open up about their thoughts on MLB’s lengthy investigation into the Biogenesis scandal, the current punishment scale and how PEDs affect the current state of the game.
“It’s good to have closure for this chapter with the drug stuff,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “Obviously this is a big deal because a lot of those guys didn’t fail drug tests, which is a big deal, but at the same time is still a problem because it means these guys were doing stuff and didn’t get caught. So somehow we need a test that catches whatever these guys were doing, which I’m sure we’re working very hard to get that.
“But at the same time, it’s great to see these guys get in trouble for what they’ve done. We need to be able to catch people that are doing that. ... No sport has worked harder to get rid of things, and this is obviously a huge step and it’s moving in the right direction, but just like the commissioner said earlier, we still have a ways to go, but I think all of us are very proud of how far we’ve come in the past 10 years.”
Tyler Clippard had a particularly interesting take on the use of performance-enhancers and how they impact others in the game. Last July 17, Clippard blew a save when the Mets’ Jordany Valdespin hit a three-run homer in the ninth, giving the Mets a lead. Today, Valdespin was one of the 13 players suspended for their purchases and uses of PEDs.
Clippard didn’t refer to Valdespin by name this afternoon, but it’s clear who he was discussing during one portion of a lengthy conversation with reporters about the need to clean up the game.
“That’s the kind of stuff you think about,” Clippard said of Valdespin. “Those guys are doing stuff that are affecting my career, and they’re not playing the game the right way. So that’s frustrating. I think anybody can relate to that. If they’re not doing things the right way and they’re beating you, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
“So yeah, that’s why this is so important, because players, ownership, nobody wants to see guys cheat.”
Nationals manager Davey Johnson has been around baseball for five decades, so he’s pretty well-equipped to offer his opinion on how the Biogenesis situation was handled by Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball in general.
“I think the Commissioner’s Office has done a great job with it,” Johnson said. “This is what’s best for the game, and I’m glad it’s over with. Our program now probably matches the Olympic testing. I’m happy. It’s better for the health of the game, better for the health of the players, better all the way around. Finally glad it’s gotten to this point, where it’s over.”
Many outside the game and even some players have suggested that the current punishment scale for using or purchasing performance-enhancers (50-game suspension for first-time violators, 100-game suspension for second-time violators, lifetime ban for third-time violators) is not stiff enough.
Johnson said he’s fine with the current punishment scale, but Clippard sees the level of suspensions increasing down the road in a further effort to deter the use of PEDs.
“I think that this is going to lead to that,” Clippard said. “Yes, it does put it into perspective for some guys, that if they think about cheating, maybe do not now. But either way, I think this will lead to something down the road as a union and ownership, that penalties are very severe. Guys cheat, so let’s clean up the game. That’s the ultimate goal, is to have a clean slate.
“Nobody wants to be pitching to a guy who’s cheating. Nobody wants to be facing a pitcher who’s cheating. From an overall perspective, everyone wants a clean game.”