On July 17, 2012, at Nationals Park, Tyler Clippard entered in the ninth inning to protect the Nationals’ 2-0 lead over the New York Mets. He allowed two singles, and then with one out, Jordany Valdespin crushed a pinch-hit home run over the right field fence. The Nationals would charge back in the bottom of the ninth to win, but Valdespin’s blast cost Clippard a save.
Clippard viewed the blown save in a harsh, new light today after Valdespin was one of 12 players suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs purchased from Biogenesis.
“That’s the kind of stuff you think about,” Clippard said. “You’re like, ‘Those guys are doing stuff that’s affecting my career and they’re not playing the game the right way.’ So that’s frustrating. I think anybody can relate to that. If they’re not doing things the right way, and they’re beating you, then it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. So that’s why this is so important. Because nobody – players, ownership – nobody wants to see guys cheat.”
Clippard, 28, became the Nationals’ acting player representative to the MLBPA when Drew Storen was demoted to the minors. He spoke strongly against fellow players who use PEDs and believed MLB’s announcement today would provide a step in ridding baseball of drugs.
“You have to be penalized if you cheat,” Clippard said. “So hopefully this is all going to clean things up. It’s obviously been building up here for seems like all season long. And it’s good to kind of have everything come out, the suspensions, and be done with it, so teams can kind of figure out what they’re going to do with the players that they lose. And from an overall outlook, it’s just good to get the game cleaned up a little bit, and hopefully it’s going to do that for a long period of time because nobody wants to see people cheat.
“You take away the integrity of them game when you cheat, when guys are cheating,” Clippard added. “And it’s unfortunate that the players who do cheat can’t see that. Because it’s kind of on a bigger level … where somebody maybe in another country or maybe the United States that doesn’t really know much about baseball, this is what they hear about. They hear about players cheating. And so it puts a really big asterisk next to the game.
“There’s a bigger picture involved and a lot of people can’t really see it like they should be, because they’re very – I don’t know if they’re very egotistical or self absorbed or whatever terms you want to use – but there’s a lot involved in that in this. And it all comes back to the integrity of the game.”
In regard to the length of penalties, Clippard raised a new idea. He said penalties should perhaps be tied somehow to a player’s contract or status within the game.
“That’s the tough line,” Clippard said. “Maybe for some guys, I think if you had a guy who’s got a month in the big leagues and gets suspended for cheating, then you’d say, ‘Yeah, 50 games is a lot. He’s trying to get his career started.’ If you’ve got a guy who’s got a seven-year contract worth $140 million and he misses 50 games, then you’d think, ‘That’s probably not enough.’ That’s the fine line. Maybe because of all this, down the road, it can get worked out where something else is kind of put in place to penalize somebody more significantly if they have a bigger contract. That’s the tough thing that the union and the ownership might have to discuss further on down the road.”