|Photo by USA Today|
For Gio Gonzalez' teammates on the Washington Nationals, there was a clear sense of relief to see their comrade have his named cleared on Monday in the Biogenesis scandal of performance enhancing drugs. There have may have been more joy, however, in knowing they likely won't have to talk about it ever again.
Several players that spoke on the issue expressed a sense of exhaustion about the entire subject. They want to see the game played clean and fair, and wish it wasn't so hard to keep it that way.
"I’m so over it. I don’t even care anymore. Literally don’t care," Adam LaRoche said.
"This stuff has been going on for a long time," Ryan Zimmerman said. "Everyone knows how we all feel about it."
The root of their frustration seems to have a lot to do with the fact they want a level playing field. Those that use performance enhancing drugs gain an advantage over those who don't cheat and they feel that's unfair.
"For a guy that doesn’t do anything, for 95 percent of the guys that don’t do anything, it’s a tough game to play every day. It’s not fair for other guys to have an advantage like that," Zimmerman said.
"My career has gone okay without that or whatever those guys have tried to do. But I think it’s more unfair for the guys who are the last two or three on the roster who play the game the right way. They fight to try and make the big leagues and maybe sometimes the last two or three guys who made it used these kinds of things, those are the guys I really feel bad for. They try to do it the right way."
Tyler Clippard believes most MLB players want the game free of steroids as they throw off the competitive balance.
"From an overall perspective, everyone wants a clean game," he said. "Nobody wants to be pitching to a guy who’s cheating. Nobody wants to be facing a pitcher who’s cheating."
The question now of course is whether the suspensions will actually deter cheaters in the future. Alex Rodriguez was banned for this season and next, Ryan Braun was suspended for the rest of this year, and many others - including 2013 All-Stars - were given 50 games. It was the most significant set of bans in the game's history and targeted several of the league's biggest names.
Punishing high profile players, Zimmerman believes, could do the trick.
"Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, those guys are unbelievable talents. They were going to be good baseball players anyways. It’s unfortunate they had to use those things for whatever reason they thought they needed to use those things. To have some closure and to suspend and punish some guys that are that high up in this league shows that nobody’s safe."
Zimmerman was happy with MLB's action this time around, but noted they still have much work to do to keep the game free of PEDs. These players, after all, never failed drug tests.
"Most of these guys didn’t even fail a drug test so I think that’s an important step, but unfortunately these guys were doing stuff and didn’t fail a drug test. We need to continue to make the test tougher so it’s harder to cheat and do things that not everyone’s able to do."