Et tu, Rickey?

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Nothing I hate more than when an old timer talks about how people don’t play the game as well/right/hard/whatever now than they did back in the day. I didn’t figure Rickey Henderson would be one of those guys — I figured he’d be one of those “Rickey was ahead of his time, and the game is finally catching up to Rickey” people — but I guess not:

• How has the game changed since you played?

RH: “The game has changed a lot. Modern technology, computers. They know about all the players on every team. To me the game has changed too much because we share so much information with the kids that they’re losing the ability to trust themselves. That’s what’s making the game not as well-played as in my era.”

I think a Rickey Henderson in-his-prime would dominate today just like he did in the 80s and early 90s because he’s an inner-circle, all-time talent. But I think it’s kinda hogwash to say that the game is not as well-played today as it was in his era.  Defense is much better. Conditioning is much better. Scouting is much better. Training techniques and video makes everyone better. Everything. Just ask this guy.

Indeed, it seems like baseball is the only sport where people tend to default to the “it was better in the past” mindset. No one does this with track and field, swimming, basketball, football or anything else. Yet we are to assume that baseball is the one athletic pursuit where people aren’t better overall than they used to be? Bah.

Oh well, still a good interview because he’s Rickey after all and I’ll never not love Rickey.

(link via BTF)

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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