Former MLB players react to PED suspensions

More than 20 former Major Leaguers turned out to the Williamsport Country Club on Monday for the annual Little League Golf Classic, which is the first significant Little League event leading up to the Little League World Series later this month.

However, on a day that was meant to celebrate baseball in its purest form, one of the uglier sides of the sport reared its head, as Major League Baseball announced the heavy suspensions of 13 players tied to the South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis on Monday afternoon.

The most notable name amongst those suspended was Alex Rodriguez, whose 211-game suspension was the most stringent punishment dealt from the league. Three All-Stars also received 50-game bans, including: Everth Cabrera of the Padres, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers, and Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers.

With the league’s announcement coming in just after tee off at Monday’s golf classic, it was naturally a hot topic of conversation as players from various generations weighed in with their opinions on the most recent performance-enhancing drug scandal.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that situation is taking precedent over a great pennant race that is going on in both leagues with a lot of teams that haven’t played well in a long time, said former Major Leaguer Brian McRae.

McRae, who played in more than 1,350 games in his 10 seasons as a big leagues, said that he understands why players turn to PEDs, and feels that they won’t be going away anytime soon despite the league’s best efforts.

“As long as money, fame and all of those things are the carrot for people to cheat, they will find ways to manipulate the system. That’s just the way it is,” McRae said. “This is big business. It’s not something that is ever going to go away. I think with the suspensions, and the loss in pay and the fines, it’s a deterrent to the majority and the players who want to do things the right way. But there are still guys who are thinking that if they can get a contract out of it then that’s better than getting sent home and not getting a pay day. That’s just human nature when there is that much money involved.

“If somebody wants to do something that may be illegal or immoral, but it’s going to take care of their family and their way of life, and they can look themselves in the mirror, that’s fine. But if they get caught then they have to face the consequences, and that’s what some of these guys are going to be dealing with in the months and maybe years to come.”

Another contemporary of Alex Rodriguez willing to share his opinion was 13-year veteran and former All-Star Tony Womack, who believes that Rodriguez’s suspension was unfair considering the punishments dealt to the other players involved.

“They chose to take (performance-enhancing drugs) and now they have to deal with the consequences, it’s that simple,” Womack said. “You knew it was wrong, and you chose do it, so you have to deal with what comes. But do I agree with him being suspended for a whole year? No.

“My issue is that if you suspend him for a whole year, that’s not right. Then you need to do the same to Ryan Braun and these other kids. It’s deal or no deal. Cheating is cheating.”

Of all former Major Leaguers present at Monday’s golf classic, players from the older generations seemed to have the least amount of empathy for the those suspended Monday.

“The drug thing has totally gotten out of control. I would say 90 percent of the players that I talked to who played back in my generation would not accept what has happened now with sports and drugs,” said Fred Valentine, who spent seven seasons in the majors with the Orioles and Senators starting in 1959.

Valentine feels that the drug problem in the MLB is reflective of the self-centered style of play that dominates the game nowadays, and has become a detriment to youth sports of all kinds.

“It was a team sport back then as opposed to now where it seems to be more individualized,” Valentine said. “We used to talk about things like sacrificing yourself, bunting and doing things to win for the team, instead of just trying jack-up and hit home runs. Guys go out and figure they have to hit home runs in order to be successful, and I don’t think that’s the way this sport is supposed to be.

“I think it’s causing a lot of damage for young people, and I think it’s going to have a major impact on the outcome of some of these young people going into various types of sports.”