The expansive spiral of deceit that has chased Major League Baseball for more than a decade received a new chapter Monday.
Major League Baseball suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger and 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun without pay for the remainder of the season for violating of the league’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Braun had long denied PED use and even admonished those accusing him. He was humbled Monday.
“I realize now that I have made some mistakes,” Braun said in a statement. “I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”
The news filled every flat screen in the Mariners clubhouse. It was also being watched in the Cleveland Indians clubhouse.
The TNT was able to catch up with Mariners starter Joe Saunders during pregame. He faced Braun while in the NL and Braun went 2-for-6 with two homers off him. Needless to say, Saunders was not happy with Braun cheating. Here’s our conversation:
As a pitcher, when you see a hitter have that happen to him, do you get irritated that that player is cheating the game, and if you’ve faced him, cheating you?) “I think you hit the nail on the head. I think everybody’s frustrated. Especially the players. I know … I think we all feel a little bit cheated. What we don’t get is why good players like the Rodriguezs and Brauns have to try to be even better than what they are. They’re already the elite of Major League players without using that stuff; when they use that stuff then it just makes them even better. I don’t know why they even do it.
“I talked to a lot of the guys and we think the penalties aren’t harsh enough, really. They should step up the penalties even more. That will really set the tell-tale sign that if you cheat and do get caught, you’re going to lose a lot of money. Braun’s deal that he made or whatever, it’s going to last 65 games, to me, it’s not enough. Next year he’s making even more money. I think it should have been a year’s suspension, at least. Just my take on it. I don’t get why guys have to do that stuff. It’s almost like, really just a slap on the wrist.”
Would money be the main deterrent? He’s had injury issues this year, his team is out of it and he makes more money next year) “It’s almost like big deal (about the penalty), you know? Plus, other players that love this game and love to do it the right way, it gives us a bad name, too. I feel sorry for the fans that have to put up with this stuff. They want to come out and see good, clean, quality baseball and it still hasn’t happened. I don’t know what guys are thinking, but it’s a shame.”
General clubhouse reaction different now than 10-15 years ago?) “I think so. From a player’s standpoint, from a guy who does it the right way, and I can’t speak for other players, but I can imagine how they feel, they’re taking money out of other players’ pockets, really, from what they’re doing. It’s hurting the game, it’s hurting the fan base, it’s also hurting other players. It’s just not right and the penalties should be stiffer.”
We also talked with veteran Jason Bay, someone who is always willing to talk about tough issues. Here’s what Bay had to say:
“I saw Ryan got suspended. I don’t know what for. What that means. Still didn’t fail a drug test. I think the knee-jerk reaction is that he’s admitting some type of guilt by agreeing to it and if that is the case that is very, very unfortunate. Obviously makes it tough on him but obviously that’s a lot of other questions the rest of us that have no tie to it have to answer. Everything is unfortunate about it. There is nothing positive that comes out of that whatsoever. As much as you want to try and clean up the game and this and that, I’ve said it before the last time something like this happened, it’s just another black eye for baseball. We’ll get through it, but still, you play baseball, it still hurts.”
Do talk to other players that tired of this?) “No. We talk about it when we talk with the union and stuff like that but this isn’t out of nowhere. This is an ongoing saga for however long now. It’s new things, like the Biogenesis thing came up, it was like, ‘great, another thing,’ I think we’re headed in the right direction but it’s part of the process. To think you put a plan in place and eradicate everything and nothing were to happen is foolish. In a way it’s a good thing it’s happening, but today, right now it’s hard to see a lot of good in it. Ultimately in a couple of years you’ll probably look back and say it was.”
So has to get worse before gets better?) “I think it’s just the negative publicity. I think the plan is in place for things like this to happen. … Standing in this clubhouse when things like this come out and you guys asking the questions, which you have to do, I compoletley understand, it’s hard to see a lot of positivity for baseball right now.”
Do get angry as a player?) Yes. I mean to think it didn’t happen is foolish. I think for me what makes me mad to use that word when you go out, and I don’t know the whole specifics of what admission here is what, they played his apology from spring training that year when he did the whole thing and it was very heartfelt and basically it just kills all the credibility of anybody. Because when you ask them a question and they run up and down the flagpole and say ‘look at this, I’ll do this, I’ll do that’ that’s basically what you have to say. I think more than anything that’s what really bothers me. At some people maybe people were like ‘I feel bad. Maybe I feel sorry for him.’ And it’s like, boom. The baseball part of it will work itself out. It is frustrating. This has happened numerous times over the years. If you look at the guys who have done stuff and just come out and admit it, a lot of guys don’t remember who those guys were. But the guys who run up and down and say ‘no, no’ and then it gets drug through the mud 10 times worse, it makes it tougher on themselves and the rest of us.”
How different reaction in clubhouse now vs. 10 years ago to news like this?) “I think it’s great it’s getting cleaned up. That’s what the plan is in place for. But when that came up today, everybody was like, ‘huh.’ It creates more negativity now than anyone wants.”
Players more unified in stance on this) “Oh yeah, 100 percent. I think this comes up and everybody looks up there and shakes their head. For every guy that gets caught doing something they’re not supposed to, there are 100, 200 guys who are not. It’s working. This is a grim reality of the plan working, that it still happens. Again, I don’t know the specifics, but I think the reaction, sadly the reaction has changed from shock and awe to kind of, all the news that’s been floated, all the names, from shock and awe to kind of a relief maybe. Hopefully we can move past this and a few other things. Is it going to go away? I doubt it, but I think the reaction of guys has changed because it’s gotten a little more normal over time. When busted the first few guys it was the big news and then it keeps coming out, like I said the plan is working, but in the present it’s a black eye.”