During an interview on Thursday with ESPN, Hall of Fame pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage gave his two cents on how baseball is played nowadays. Along the way he covered many controversial topics, such as steroids, rule-changes, and bat flips – specifically the “disgrace” that he feels Jose Bautista and Yoenis Cespedes bring to Latino baseball players. His opinions weren’t boring, and they’re definitely offensive, but Goose brought up a few decent points, hidden within his profanity-laced tirade:
“Bautista is a f***ing disgrace to the game…He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. Cespedes, same thing.”
There’s no getting around the fact that Gossage is directly attacking two of the most recognized Latino players in today’s game. It also sounds a little bit like he’s picking on Latinos in general. This seems to be more than just an issue of new school vs. new school, this is a cultural difference. Obviously Gossage is referring to Bautista’s legendary bat flip from last October. If you feel that bat-flips and celebrations are disrespectful to the game, then I recommend you read Bautista’s retelling of the situation over at The Player’s Tribune, just to see a different side of the story.
This section of Goose’s rant is absolutely the part I disagree with the most. As a fan, guys like Bautista, Cespedes, and Bryce Harper, who play the game in a very emotionally-charged state, are incredibly entertaining. Reflecting back on when I played, the rivalries that developed out of fist-pumps and bat-flips were not only a fun experience, but also a great opportunity for the team to have a bonding experience.
As it turned out, Gossage was just getting started,
“A bunch of f***ing nerds running the game. You can’t slide into second base. You can’t take out the f***ing catcher because (Buster) Posey was in the wrong position and they are going to change all the rules. You can’t pitch inside anymore. I’d like to knock some of these f***ers on their ass and see how they would do against pitchers in the old days.”
This is where I find myself agreeing with the Hall of Fame pitcher. Not so much the knocking anyone on their ass, but takeout slides are a part of the game. Everyone is taught the takeout slide in little league, and by the time these guys are playing pro ball, it’s an instinct to break up the double-play with a takeout slide.
The same deal applies to the catcher takeout. I take no pleasure in seeing guys like Ruben Tejada (Chase Utley slide) and Buster Posey (Scott Cousins) get hurt, but that is a part of the game. Baseball will become a boring sport if it must be played station-to-station. The league has been creating more rules lately that end plays with automatic outs, and the play being dead, and that makes for boring baseball. I’m all for injury prevention, but not at the expense of the game. I will say though, that calling today’s executives “f***cking nerds” is a pretty juvenile thing to do, even if that is Gossage’s genuine opinion.
Goose even brought up Performance Enhancing Drugs, just for good measure,
“Ryan Braun is a f***ing steroid user. He gets a standing ovation on Opening Day in Milwaukee. How do you explain that to your kid after throwing people under the bus and lying through his f—ing teeth?”
Quotes courtesy of Andrew Marchand
Once again, I find that I share a similar opinion with Gossage. My biggest issue with PEDs isn’t the whole cheating debate (although I do think it’s cheating). My problem with athletes taking PEDS is exactly what Goose brings up: the youth. Pro athletes make so much money, and have such a desirable job that they are role models, just by going to work. Each and every one of them. Because of this, children are going to look up to athletes (I’ll admit I’m playing Captain Obvious), and if society lets the pros get away with taking PEDS, the kids are going to do it too.
Ryan Braun absolutely destroyed people’s careers to defend his name. Of course, it was too late to do anything about that two years later, when his name came up in the Biogenesis Scandal, and he finally admitted to taking an illegal substance. Ryan Braun is no hero.
While I couldn’t help but agree with a few of the comments made by Goose Gossage, his rant was an immature, and hypocritical thing to do. As Deadspin has pointed out, Gossage missed time during his playing days with the Yankees due to a broken hand from a fight with his teammate, Cliff Johnson. High intensity has always been a part of the game. Taking out your frustration on your teammate, rather than the other team, does not make you a good person. Rather, it makes you a shitty teammate.