Hall of Fame pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage said Major League Baseball is different from the way it’s played, managed and even umpired.
“Which facet of the game do you want to talk about? There is nothing that is the same from when I broke in,” Gossage told me Friday. “Pitching, hitting, umpiring, it’s all changed.
“They’re taking umpiring away from the umpires with replay,” he added. “I don’t agree with replay. You ought to leave baseball alone and leave it up to the umpires. They’ve done a great job for 100 years, so why change it? Why try to manipulate the game?
“No one has died the last 100 years over a bad call. I hear stuff like, ‘That kid (former Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga) lost his perfect game,’ but that kid’s more famous for not pitching a perfect game than if he had pitched it. Leave the game alone. Half the calls, you can’t even make a decision even with replay.”
Gossage, who was ejected more than once for arguing with an umpire during his 22-year career, said fans “love to see a manager come out, kick dirt all over the umpire and throw bases around.”
“It fires up the crowd,” Gossage said. “It’s a huge part of the game. It’s a character part. They’re taking the character out of the game. They’re taking the personality out of baseball.”
Gossage wants the game run by people who know baseball instead of “computer geeks who played rotisserie baseball and think they’ve got the game figured out.”
“This game, you cannot figure it out,” he said. “I gave up a long time ago trying to control this game. It controls you.”
Which team is closest to managing rosters before the age of sabermetrics?
“The San Francisco Giants,” Gossage said. “They’re closest to the old school. They use computers, but don’t use it as a bible. They look at the chemistry of a team, not just statistics, which give you a small story. What they don’t show you is the heart and soul of a player.”
Gossage did say there are players today, like Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols and center fielder Mike Trout, who would be successful in any era. But, because coaching isn’t as good as it used to be, Gossage said “the torch isn’t being passed from one generation to the next.”
“Front offices, they can throw that book about how to coach out the window,” Gossage said. “I had people to teach me.
“I don’t think players are better overall because the fundamentals of the game are not being taught. There wasn’t enough talent to go around before expansion, but now they’re rushing these kids to the big leagues and they’re trying to learn their trade at the big-league level.”