Hall of Famer Rich “Goose” Gossage hasn’t held back when he has been asked for his opinion on the subject du jour by the media. In the past, he’s said he would purge all of the modern home run records because many have used — or at least been accused of using — performance-enhancing drugs. He also once compared PED users to murderers. Gossage is an interesting quote.
So when Gossage had another microphone in front of him on Thursday, and predictable angry opinions spilled forth, there weren’t many who were truly surprised. Per ESPN’s Andrew Marchand, Gossage called Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista “a f—ing disgrace to the game.” He explained, “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. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing.”
Bautista was asked to respond, and took the diplomatic route. He said, “I’m disappointed that he mode those comments, but I’m not going to get into it with him. I would never say anything about him, no matter what he said about me.”
Gossage was also asked about the trend of people with no baseball playing experience filling front office roles. Fireworks.
“The game is becoming a freaking joke because of the nerds who are running it. I’ll tell you what has happened, these guys played Rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever the f— they went and they thought they figured the f—ing game out. They don’t know s—.”
“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.
“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? They don’t have anyone passing the f—ing torch to these people.
“If I had acted like that, you don’t go in that f—ing dugout. There are going to be 20 f—ing guys waiting for you.”
Some of Gossage’s anger might be misplaced, as it wasn’t just the front office nerds who have either collectively bargained or had representatives negotiate these rule changes concerning player safety. And it’s a business decision first and foremost from the league, so his anger should actually be directed at capitalism. The NFL has been held liable for large sums of money for being neglectful and actively misleading about the risk of concussions. Major League Baseball, fearing both that potential outcome and the hit to its public image by being as cold as the NFL, was proactive following the Buster Posey and Ruben Tejada injuries. It wasn’t a scrawny economics graduate from “Harvard or wherever the f—” sitting in his basement trying to mollify the game; it was a group of businesspeople in a boardroom fearing litigation.
As for the analytics trend, which Gossage hates, he is free to ignore it at his own peril. There aren’t any teams left in the league who don’t utilize analytics in some capacity and every front office still has former players filling important roles. The difference between Gossage’s time and now is that, thanks to computers, we have a very easy time verifying what our eyes see, whereas it was too convenient back in the 1970’s to trust the gut over a wacky theory. Voros McCracken’s DIPS theory never would have stood a chance if he had come up with it two decades prior. Now, people who don’t add any new thought to the game — ornery baseball columnists and former players — aren’t being sought out as the experts they once thought they were. The “nerds”, who can collect and analyze data in a matter of seconds, are now those experts.
If Gossage were playing Blackjack, he would hit on 17. When the players around him advised him to change his mind, he’d still insist on getting another card. Then, when he busts and loses all his money, he would blame his terrible luck. The other players, who follow “the book”, might have ever-increasing stacks of chips but they’re just “f—ing nerds” anyway. At least, in Gossage’s eyes, he played the game the right way.