Rich Gossage, who last week made waves after blasting bat-flippers and “nerds” who “don’t know [expletive]” for ruining the game, has doubled-down on his belief that baseball is going to hell in a hand basket.
The Hall of Famer is doing a guest instructor thing for the Yankees at the moment. Despite the fact that Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi called him into the office to have a chat with him on Friday about his comments, he is still taking aim at modern baseball with both barrels. Yesterday he name-checked a notable young football player while talking to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post:
“It’s a shame, it breaks my heart to see the direction this game is going, What, do we want a bunch of Cam Newtons running around? So, if no one keeps it in check, which there is no one keeping it in check . . .”
Gossage also blasted instant replay.
On the latter count, OK, sure. It’s here to stay and if it corrects clearly bad calls it’s a good thing in my view, but replay is often annoying in practice and remains controversial among some so it’s not like Gossage is on some far end of the bell curve in ripping it. Indeed, with respect to at least some of its applications I imagine Gossage and I are in pretty close agreement on the matter.
As for the other comments: what, exactly, about Cam Newton doesn’t Gossage like and how, exactly, are we supposed to “keep it in check?” From where I’m sitting Newton is an exciting, athletic and entertaining player who led his team to the Super Bowl and who provided a lot of enjoyment for a great many fans, possibly even some who might not have been paying attention to the game otherwise. This is a bad thing? This is something that must be policed?
Of course Gossage is likely referring to the Unwritten Rules aspects of Newton’s demeanor and deportment, believing that he is the football equivalent of all of those bat flips he hates. That’s a conversation NFL fans had to endure a few months ago and, to the extent it bleeds into baseball, we’ve had it many times here as well. No one is going to change many minds about it by having it again, I don’t suspect.
But there is one interesting aspect to this latest foray into this territory. Last night, after the Post article was published, its author, Kevin Kernan, and another veteran baseball scribe, Tracy Ringolsby, took to Twitter after people began ripping Gossage. What they had to say was quite telling:
This is pretty familiar stuff to anyone who spends any time talking about politics: the phony claim that, just because someone’s views are being criticized, their free speech rights are somehow being trampled. As this perfectly succinct comic on the matter reminds us, this is not the case. Contrary to these reporters’ beliefs, one’s First Amendment rights do not entitle the speaker to unquestioned nodding and agreement or, short of that, silence. They do, however, entitle people like me to say things like “Goose Gossage is an out-of-touch guy raging against the dying of what passed for light 40 years ago and he looks silly for doing so.”
Indeed, the “safe places” reference is actually ironic in the extreme. Kernan and Ringolsby are talking big and tough about free speech but they clearly would love a safe pace for Gossage where his critics cannot offer any dissent.
In addition to misunderstanding how the First Amendment works, those tweets are pretty telling. Their view that criticism of Gossage’s comments are tyranny and the complete and utter lack of pushback on Gossage’s views anyplace in Kernan’s article (was there a followup question about how one might put Cam Newton “in check?” Inquiring minds want to know!) make it pretty clear that they agree with him wholeheartedly when it comes to baseball going to hell, bat flips being the work of the devil and Cam Newton being some punk who needs to be “kept in check.”
Which is fine. Again: they have the complete and utter freedom to believe and say anything they want about the sports they cover. But it also tells us exactly where their sentiments lie. It suggests that they harbor no small amount of contempt for the games and athletes they cover and allows us to grant their views and reporting very little weight accordingly.