Raul Ibanez has played in the Majors for a long time. Eighteen years to be exact and with four different teams.
His capacity to understand how a mass drug suspension, such as what was administered from MLB commissioner Bud Selig's office today of 13 players, including Jesus Montero of the Mariners, will affect the integrity, perception and outlook of the game.
Ibanez didn't hold back when expressing his contempt for the actions of the suspended players when talking with area reporters in the clubhouse before the Seattle Mariners game Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Here's what he had to say:
Just terrible. This is terrible for the game. First and foremost it’s about the game. It’s about the integrity of the game. And as a father of five children it’s really difficult when I have an 11-year-old son who looks up to a lot of these players and he’s old enough to say that this person cheated. There’s a lot of lessons in that as a father, too, in saying that cheaters never prosper, but it always comes back to get you. It’s a sad thing for the game of baseball. It's a sad thing that we have to spend so much time talking about this instead of all the great things that go on in the game. It’s terrible
What about the fact that it’s also touching a teammate?
If you do things that aren’t right, there’s a consequence. And this stuff is not right. It’s illegal, it’s wrong, and it’s cheating. There’s a consequence. There is going to be a consequence for everybody who does what is wrong.
Do you fear there is going be this attitude of ‘They’re all doing it’ and guys like you who are having great, late career surges are going to be under more suspicion?
The unfortunate part is that, everyone, or a lot of people start looking at everyone like, ‘We’re all doing it.’ And that’s not fair to the overwhelming majority of us who have done this with integrity and honor and hard work and will and determination. There is a great message to kids in this and that is self-discipline. Out-working everybody, believing in yourself, belief, desire, and doing things the right way, that’s the way to go about doing it. And that’s the message, when I grew up watching guys like George Brett. I didn’t have to worry about this. But our kids today have to look at this garbage. That’s what it is, garbage. They have to look at this garbage and people who do things the wrong way and … it’s disappointing.
(MLB Players Association Executive Director) Mike Weiner in a conference call today said there is a growing movement of players who want to strengthen the penalties to make it even more strict.
I can’t fathom why … just why. You can’t fathom why. It’s a simple formula, but it’s not easy to execute. It’s simple – work your (butt) off, do everything right, find the appropriate training regimen for you, the therapeutic regiments for you and be determined to succeed. It’s simple, but it’s not easy to maintain the discipline and the hard work to do it. So if they made the punishment worse, I’m not going to get on a soap box and say, ‘I want them to do this or I want them to do that’ but I’m all for it, yeah.
Do you have any particular thoughts about Alex Rodriguez, a guy you have known for a long time?
It’s disappointing, this whole thing. It’s terrible for the game of baseball. I think it’s a sad day for baseball. But the flip side of this is that it’s still, if you look statistically, it shows that the majority of us are clean and have done it the right way and you try to focus on that and move forward.
These guys can taint everybody and usually from the older players are thought to do this...I don’t think the older players use it, if you look at this list I don’t think you can cast a cloud on a specific group of people.
I’m disgusted by the whole thing. That’s how I feel about it. It’s really not that different form our society, looking at our prison society compared to the rest of us. Most of us abide by all the rules. The sins of the few kind of cast a cloud on the many. It’s terrible.
You mentioned how sad this day is, but overall, do you feel this is a big step in getting this game clean?
Of course, I think this is a great message to anybody who would be thinking about doing something wrong is that you are going to get caught and you are going to get penalized, as you should.
I would say that we are, I mean, I would say that this is a pretty clean game and if you cheat, you are going to get caught. That’s what I would say. Again, this is stuff that as a player you don’t’ think about because your job is to help your team and get better everyday and when stuff like this comes up and we have to spend time talking about it, as we should, given the situation everybody should be talking about it, it’s because of these few that a lot of the rest of us have to answer questions about what they’ve done wrong instead of the overwhelming majority of us have done right. There is a good message in there for kids but the integrity of the game comes first. Keeping in mind that you are a role model to children. I still remember watching George Brett (who played all 21 years of his major league career with the Kansas City Royals) play and wanting to do everything like George Brett. I’ve had the good fortune of talking with George Brett and I know George Brett and I still see him and look at him in awe, even though he is my friend because he is like my hero. It is a very disappointing thing for kids when their heroes get caught up in garbage.
Is there an aspect of this where some relationships are going to have to be mended. You played with A-Rod, you played with Jesus Montero, you’ve played with and against a lot of guys on this list. Do relationships have to be mended or is this ‘They served their penalty, that is enough’?
I think that Major League Baseball is going to take care of what they need to take care of, as they should, and I mean all the other stuff is, I’m trying to think about R.A. Dickey right now and yet we are talking about this, it’s not your fault. But I don’t even think about that stuff.