Cheating in baseball has forced many to pay a price

Updated: May 14, 2009, 1:24 AM ET

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Manny Ramirez has put up big numbers at the plate, but now they are being questioned.

When you are a part of the game, naturally you protect the game and your teammates.

You work to build the game at every opportunity and try to do whatever you can to help this game you love. That includes protecting the history even while you are trying to break the records of the game's greats. The players who used steroids forgot all this. As a union member, you are trying to protect the salary structure for your fellow players, but doing it through artificial means is not right and ultimately hurts more people than it helps.

Players who took PEDs lost touch with the game and having fun playing the game of our childhoods. Every player in the major leagues has that childhood dream of making it to the big leagues and, despite the overwhelming odds, these guys made it. To lose touch with that and the purity of competition is a shame. Most players are multilayered -- they certainly enjoy the money, but that's not the only reason they are ballplayers.

They truly enjoy the game and cherish the moments and the relationships with their teammates. I'd be on the mound sometimes and just look around at my infield -- at guys like Tim Wallach, Robin Ventura and Eric Karros -- and think about how fun it was to go and put it all out on the line with guys like that.

But every time a guy like A-Rod or Manny Ramirez gets caught, you feel as if all this stuff you valued and protected isn't worth what you thought it was. You feel as if everybody wasn't on the same page and you were fooled. To a lot of players, although maybe not as many as I once thought, it hurts in a way that is hard to explain. For the guys who enjoy the game, the lifestyle and the rewards, they also know that the sanctity of competition is above all. So watching all this mess is tough. You look around the clubhouse at the other guys you share the uniform with, and you feel like you can and must trust them. So when it turns out you can't, it can be hard to take.

Manny was a teammate and a guy I really did think was clean. I was surprised when he got suspended because I honestly thought he had that much talent and thought he worked that hard for what he got. He's a famously hard worker, but the appearance of short cuts hurts him not only in the eyes of fans but also in the brotherhood of fellow big leaguers.

We are getting to the point now that it's almost criminal. We are not talking about a small amount of money or fame that is being gained under false pretenses. When you look at what players are being paid when they didn't really deserve it, and consider that that money should have been left to others in the salary structure, it's like stealing not only from the owners who pay the contracts but also from the other players in the league. With the penalties what they are, basically a slap on the wrist, guys figure the potential rewards are worth the risk. We've seen instances when players put up big numbers for a year or two and get the big payday, but then don't perform under the new contract.

When players are suspicious of teammates, they are torn about whether to speak up without real proof or to stay quiet and do their best to fight for testing behind the scenes. There are no easy choices when you are in the middle of a pennant race and, by changes in their mood or appearance, you know something is wrong with guys in your clubhouse. When all these guys are throwing close to 100 mph and everybody is hitting home runs to the opposite field, it's obvious something is not right. When I started out, there were basically four or five guys who could hit it out of the park to the opposite field: Darrell Evans, Pedro Guerrero, Andre Dawson and maybe Mike Schmidt every now and then. But by the time I retired, it was commonplace.

When you think about it, there really weren't any changes until after Jose Canseco came out. He was lambasted early on, but no one is really saying much now. People might not like his style or his manner, but his facts seem fairly strong. People say they don't like him because he ratted out his own friends, but when you think about it, the people he blew the whistle on, himself included, were cheating their own friends, teammates and fellow big leaguers.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: May 11 | May 10 | May 7 | May 6 | May 5

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
A. Pujols, StL13PitDukeTop 1: 3-1, 2 Outs. None on.
J. Thome, CWS5CleSowersTop 1: 1-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
A. Jones, Bal7TBSonnanstineBot 1: 2-2, 1 Outs. None on.
J. Nix, CWS2CleSowersTop 3: 2-2, 0 Outs. None on.
A. Jones, Bal8TBSonnanstineBot 2: 3-1, 2 Outs. 2 on.

The complete list of Tuesday's homers

ON DECK: WEDNESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

White Sox at Indians

Mark Buehrle and Cliff Lee have swapped roles this year. A year ago, Buehrle limped to a 1-5 start to the season while Lee began a year that would end with a Cy Young Award. This year, Buehrle is 5-0 while Lee is 1-5. The two square off Wednesdsay.

Tigers at Twins

Dontrelle Willis makes his season debut. He has been out all year with an anxiety disorder. Willis appeared in only eight games with the Tigers a year ago, going 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA in just 24 innings.

Yankees at Blue Jays

The Blue Jays got off to a good start in this series, winning the opener Tuesday. But that was with Roy Halladay pitching. Well, on Wednesday, Toronto sends out Scott Richmond, who has gotten off to a strong start, posting 4-1 record with a 3.29 ERA over six starts.

For the rest of Wednesday's schedule, click here.

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

BBTN ON THE AIR: WEDNESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Steve Phillips, Chris Singleton
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Steve Phillips, Chris Singleton

BBTN MINUTE: ZIMMERMAN'S HIT STREAK

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at Roy Halladay, who picked up a complete-game win against the Yankees on Tuesday. Halladay has tossed an awful lot of those since 2003.

Most complete games, active pitchers
CG CG since 2003
Randy Johnson 100 13
Tom Glavine 56 4
John Smoltz 53 6
Livan Hernandez 45 22
Roy Halladay 41 36

WEB GEMS

TUESDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Ryan ZimmermanRyan Zimmerman continues his march toward Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. By going 2-for-5 against the Giants, Zimmerman upped his hitting streak to 30 games. Zimmerman has had a hit in every game for the Nationals but one this season, and that came on an 0-for-5 night on April 7 against Florida.
Jayson Werth• Normally, when you think of speed and the Phillies, Jimmy Rollins or Shane Victorino comes to mind first. Well, start considering Jayson Werth, who stole four bases in a 5-3 win against the Dodgers. Werth's four stolen bases tied a team record, which was last accomplished by Garry Maddox in 1978.
WORST
Mark LoweMark Lowe will probably want to forget his relief appearance from Tuesday. He gave up all six runs in the seventh inning of the Mariners' 7-1 loss against Texas. Lowe's line -- two-thirds of an inning, five hits, six runs and a homer.
Andy SonnanstineMark Lowe isn't the only one who'd like to forget Tuesday. Andy Sonnanstine lasted just two innings in the Rays' 7-5 loss against the Orioles. In his short time, he gave up nine hits and seven runs and his ERA jumped from 5.79 to 7.27 in one night.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera entered play Tuesday with six saves, but with a 3.65 ERA (his highest since 1995, when he started 10 games) and having surrendered four home runs, as many as he did each of the past two seasons. So what has gone wrong? His trademark cutter has not been as effective this season against righties as it had been in years past.

Rivera's cutter has long given American League hitters nightmares, and they had never hit him for an average higher than .248 since he went to the bullpen in 1996. This season, however, righties are punishing the pitch for a .375 batting average.

They are also swinging and missing more and chasing the pitch out of the strike zone far less, especially the one in the upper third of the zone. They chased the pitch out of the zone at least a third of the time in each of the past two seasons, but righties are going after it only 6.7 percent of the time this season.

Rivera and the Yankees play again Wednesday. Rivera has collected 37 career saves against Toronto, the fourth most he has totaled against any team.

Righties vs. Rivera fastball
2007 2008 2009
BA .238 .185 .375
SLG .371 .277 .625
Miss pct. 28.7 26.4 19.5
Chase pct. 31.3 28.2 12.8

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF WEDNESDAY'S GAMES

Tristan H. Cockcroft examines the 15 games on Wednesday's slate.

Fantasy Cockcroft ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Wednesday. Daily Notes