On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that 12 players all accepted 50-game suspensions for their involvement with the Biogenesis scandal.
MLB issued the following discipline today for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program in relation to the Biogenesis investigation. Players receiving 50-game suspensions without pay for their violations of the Program are:
• Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo;
• San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera;
• New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli;
• Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz;
• Padres pitcher Fautino De Los Santos, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A San Antonio Missions of the Texas League;
• Houston Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona, who is currently of the roster of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League;
• Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the International League;
• Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League;
• Free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto;
• Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta;
• New York Mets outfielder Cesar Puello, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League; and
• Mets infielder/outfielder Jordany Valdespin, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.
Norberto’s suspension will be effective immediately once he signs with another Major League organization. All other suspensions are effective immediately. None of the players will appeal their discipline.
Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 Championship Season and Postseason and the entire 2014 Championship Season for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program 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 Office of the Commissioner's investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
Under the terms of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Rodriguez's suspension will be stayed until the completion of his appeal if Rodriguez files a grievance challenging his discipline.
As you might expect, Twitter was ablaze following the news.
But with all of the talk surrounding Alex Rodriguez for the past, well, month or so, he wasn't one of the early names uncovered by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Free-agent pitcher Jordan Norberto also among suspensions.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 5, 2013
As Zachary D. Rymer of Bleacher Report noted, those weren't really the names the public cared about:
"Yes, yes, yes. All well and good. But what about A-Rod?!" -Every baseball scribe right now.— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) August 5, 2013
But the Rodriguez news would come soon enough. Here's CNN's tweet as the news broke:
MLB suspends Alex Rodriguez for 211 regular-season games, but he can appeal. http://t.co/wxsUin0Hjr— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) August 5, 2013
T.J. Quinn of ESPN has more on the basis behind the suspension:
A-Rod punished under drug agreement AND other areas of basic agreement, but will be allowed to play while he appeals.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) August 5, 2013
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports builds off of Quinn's original report with more detail:
MLB cites A-Rod for using PEDs, including testosterone and HGH, over multiple years and obstructing and frustrating its investigation.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 5, 2013
And Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger pointed out a critical lesson when confronted with steroid allegations:
Oh, A-Rod. The cover up is always worse than the crime.— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) August 5, 2013
Had A-Rod not attempted to cover up and interfere in the MLB investigation, it's unlikely he would have received such a harsh suspension.
Finally, Buster Olney of ESPN put the length of this suspension into historical context:
Alex Rodriguez becomes most prominent active MLB player to face ban of more than 1 year since Shoeless Joe Jackson.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 5, 2013
But don't expect Rodriguez to go quietly into the night, or the appeal process to end anytime soon. The MLBPA is already gearing up for a fight, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:
Michael Weiner on A-Rod: "We agree with his decision to fight his suspension. We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 5, 2013
More from Weiner, exec director MLBPA: "Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 5, 2013
Michael Weiner on leaks: "We must revisit the JDA’s confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 5, 2013
The New York Yankees released a statement of their own, via Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation (cont)— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 5, 2013
as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate (cont)— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 5, 2013
standard of care to Alex Rodriguez." #Yankees— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 5, 2013
As Jayson Stark of ESPN notes, the A-Rod conflict is expected to take plenty of time to resolve:
Not sensing much optimism within MLB that ARod case can get wrapped up in next 45 days. Lots of lawyers need to gear up for this one.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) August 5, 2013
Not surprisingly, the New York papers came out swinging on Monday morning, ready to see A-Rod disappear. Here is how the New York Post handled the ongoing drama, as shared by Darren Rovell and Busted Coverage:
NY Post headline writers earn their pay with A-Rod headline this morning pic.twitter.com/RLlb7iKSt2— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) August 5, 2013
NY Post's ARod front page is pretty powerful pic.twitter.com/Jby7OZVrTN— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) August 5, 2013
Go away, indeed. While several players are involved in this historic day, Rodriguez remains the biggest name in this scandal.
Andy Glockner of Sports Illustrated jokingly said he would like to see Oprah handle the Biogenesis proceedings:
MLB should have hired Oprah for today: "You get a suspension! YOU get a suspension! ... Alex, you get five suspensions."— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) August 5, 2013
Olney was a bit more serious, accusing the players that took the plea deal of only acting in self-interest:
Least surprising thing is that players accepted plea deals out of self-interest. They took the PEDs in the first place b/c of self-interest.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 5, 2013
For Cruz and Peralta self-interest, accepting the suspensions is a logical choice. They get suspension behind them going into free agency.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 5, 2013
Olney's point is that by taking this plea, the players are hurting their teams by lessening their punishments and taking the suspensions immediately, namely Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta. It's not as though their respective teams didn't benefit from their increased production at some point, but neither player probably thought twice about accepting the plea heading into free agency.
So how will this scandal affect baseball as a whole? Well, for one thing, as Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk notes, despite this list being comprised of mostly B-list and C-list players, accusations will continue to fly anytime an MLB player has a breakout season:
A dozen fringe guys in biggest PED bust ever and the next time a power hitter hits a few extra home runs, everyone will accuse him of stuff.— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) August 5, 2013
Passan backs up Calcaterra's "fringe guys" comment by sharing the WAR of a few players accepting plea deals:
Biogenesis suspensions by WAR: Peralta (3.7), Cabrera (3.0), Cruz (1.5), Cervelli (0.7), Bastardo (0.6), Valdespin (-0.3), Montero (-0.5).— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 5, 2013
Obviously, this list isn't complete without Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. But it is interesting to see that, for the most part, the superstars of the game have gone clean (or gotten better at masking their steroid use). Now, it is mostly those players trying to make the team or blow up in a contract year that are being caught.
Speaking of the players, Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays spoke up on Monday, sharing his opinion of the Biogenesis scandal:
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...— Evan Longoria (@Evan3Longoria) August 5, 2013
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.— Evan Longoria (@Evan3Longoria) August 5, 2013
Hopefully Longoria is right. With any luck, baseball will continue to clean up the game and the sport will find a way to de-incentivize steroid use.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis shared his thoughts on the matter and believes "PED users are 'stealing money' need stiffer punishments":
No ifs, ands or buts about it. These guys are big boys; they can make decisions. If I go out there and rob a convenience store, I know the consequences that are coming with it. We are all adults here.
From MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince:
Max Scherzer: "I think every player in here wants to see stiffer penalties." #Tigers— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) August 5, 2013
Justin Verlander also spoke out about the suspension of Peralta and how he views him after the news, (via Chris Lott of MLive.com).
Justin Verlander: "Everybody makes mistakes. ... He's my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field."— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) August 5, 2013
Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox weighed in on the day's news before his game against the Houston Astros (via Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe).
Pedroia: "I'm glad this happened. You want everybody on the same page. We shouldn't be competing against guys who use drugs like that."— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) August 5, 2013
Mark McGwire also spoke out, courtesy of ESPN's Arash Markazi:
'I wish I was never a part of it,' McGwire said. 'Just get rid of it. If it's better to have bigger suspensions, then they're going to have to change it...'
'...I wish there were things in place earlier,' McGwire said. 'They were put in in 2003 I think. I just really hope and pray that this is the end of it. Everybody, especially the players, don't want any more part of it, and I hope this is the end of it. ... I wish I was never part of it.'
Of course, not all players are quite so, shall we say, diplomatic about the scandal. Former pitcher Dan Meyer, who played for the Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves in his career, had a message for Bastardo:
Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx alot. #ahole— Dan Meyer (@Dmy53) August 5, 2013
That about sums it up perfectly, wouldn't you say?