Across MLB, an eagerness to move forward
Suspensions resulting from Biogenesis taking sport 'in right direction'
A full range of reactions flowed on Monday in the aftermath of Major League Baseball's suspensions of 13 players as a result of the league's Biogenesis investigation.
Taking to Twitter, Derrick Hall, president and CEO of the D-backs, had a strongly positive response: "I am very proud of the suspensions & penalties handed down today. We have the strongest testing & penalizing in sports and have cleaned it up!"
I am very proud of the suspensions & penalties handed down today. We have the strongest testing & penalizing in sports & have cleaned it up!- Derrick Hall (@DHallDbacks) August 5, 2013
Hall delivered a followup tweet: "PEDs are not welcome, nor tolerated, in our great game. So glad MLB players are all on board too. I hope other sports follow suit."
Nationals manager Davey Johnson was similarly pleased.
"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."
Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan's reaction was more restrained, reflecting frustration that it reached this point.
"I think as a whole, I think we're disappointed that we haven't as an industry moved past this, because there's been an awful lot of effort put into this, a lot of education," Ryan said. "MLB has made it a priority, and so it's disappointing we haven't gotten further down the road."
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received the stiffest penalty -- a 211-game ban without pay through the end of the 2014 regular season. Rodriguez, 38, has appealed the suspension, which is to begin Thursday. His case will be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Rodriguez's discipline, MLB said in its written announcement, is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to "obstruct and frustrate" the investigation.
The other players who were handed 50-game suspensions include Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and recently demoted Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.
A tide of sentiment appears to be emerging from outspoken players such as the Tigers' Max Scherzer to make consequences for PED use even harsher.
"I really hope there are stiffer penalties," Scherzer said in the Detroit clubhouse. "Every player in here wants stiffer penalties. I think the union is on board about that. I think MLB is on board about that. I think that's something that would be a positive thing for the game.
"As players as a whole, we're tired of cheating. We're tired of guys who blatantly try to break the system. That's something that we have to find a way to shore up so this doesn't happen again, because the more days we have like this, the worse it is for our game and the worse it is for our fans. It only drives fans away.
"We all thought the 50-game, 100-game suspensions would be a deterrent -- and it has been. I think we have seen a decline in PED users. There [are fewer] people violating the system. As players as a whole, we still feel like there are people that are going to test the system and can reap benefits by cheating. This offseason is going to be very telling working with the union on what we can do to increase punishments, so the punishment fits the crime."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has seen considerable movement in the process with possibly more to come.
"It's still evolving," Scioscia said. "I remember when the suspensions at first were none. It was a fine, and then it went to 10 games I think, back in the original agreement. Obviously, those warranted a deeper deterrent, and you got more suspensions.
"I think that the first time, 50 games, that's about what a hamstring pull is. I think as time goes on you might see some deeper penalties, but the message is clear. It's coming as strongly from the Players Association as it is from Major League Baseball. That's why I think this thing will grab legs and hopefully get cleaned up."
C.J. Wilson cut straight to the heart of the matter.
"I think the issue centers around greed," the Angels' southpaw said. "If anybody says it's something else, they're not telling the truth. The players want to do well because they want to get bigger contracts. That money they earn is tainted, just like their statistics are.
"Hopefully, we can take this as a lesson -- for everybody watching, all the clean players -- that we're cleaning up the game and getting rid of the incentive to do this stuff."
The Rays' Evan Longoria weighed in via Twitter: "Today is a sad day for MLB, the fans of this great game, and all players who may have been negatively affected by others selfishness ...
"Ultimately, although today will be a day of infamy for MLB, it is a tremendous step in the right direction for the game we love."
Indians manager Terry Francona referred to his personal relationship with Commissioner Bud Selig, reaching out to him as he processed the news.
"I watched it in the coaches' room," Francona said. "Because I played in Milwaukee, and my dad played in Milwaukee, we both have connections to Mr. Selig. So there's probably a little extra affinity. I care about him a lot. Whether you're critical of things he's done as media, if you spent 30 seconds with him, you'd know how much he cares about the game. He loves the game of baseball.
"As I was watching his statement ... I felt for him. I picked up the phone and left him a message, and 10 minutes later he called me back. I spoke to him for about five or 10 minutes, and he was like, 'This doesn't need to be a dark day for baseball.' He said this needs to be the beginning of the good stuff. He didn't say it like that. He said it a little better, but I don't articulate it quite as well. But I agree with him. I think Major League Baseball did something that was really difficult -- and sometimes the right thing is difficult.
"Our game is played by humans, and when there's a human element, there's going to be mistakes. People make mistakes. I've made mistakes. We all make mistakes. Some are more severe than others, but the idea is trying to get it right. We have really good people trying to get it right."
Twins union representative Glen Perkins recalled how Rodriguez punished Minnesota during postseason series in 2004, 2009 and 2010, hitting .390 with three homers and 10 RBIs as the Yankees won nine of 10 games.
"Pretty much everybody on that list we've seen," Perkins said. "So it's frustrating that those guys cheated and won games for their team when they weren't playing by the rules."
The suspension of Peralta could impact the AL Central race, with the Tigers leading the Indians by three games heading into Monday play. The Rangers, losing Cruz, also could be significantly weakened in the American League West and potential Wild Card competition.
"Peralta is a good player; there's no question about it," Indians outfielder Michael Brantley said. "He's having a great season. Any time you lose one of your 25 guys, especially a starter, it's going to have some type of effect."
Alfonso Soriano, who was traded by the Yankees to the Rangers for A-Rod and now is his teammate, offered a message urging peers to resist the PED temptation.
"God gave you the talent," Soriano said, "so don't try to be a superhero or something like that. Just play with the talent that God gave to you and see what happens."
Former home run king Mark McGwire, the Dodgers' hitting coach, expressed regret over his identification with performance-enhancing drugs.
"I wish I was never part of it," McGwire said. "Just really hoping and praying that this is the end of it. Just everybody, especially the players, they don't want any more part of it. It really doesn't matter what I think. I think it matters what the players think. And what I hear every day in the clubhouse, they're just happy it's coming to an end. They're happy that Major League Baseball is taking care of it.
"I just hope it's over with. I just hope we don't have to sit here and talk about this anymore."