“Bautista is a f–king 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. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing.”
That’s one of our ambassadors of the game, Goose Gossage, talking about some of the most electrifying players we watched down the stretch last year. Their backgrounds refer to areas of the world where baseball is most popular and those specific players drew fans from a country dormant in viewership for the past 20 years and from the portion of the largest market in the country with nothing to celebrate, until he arrived, for the past decade.
Gossage, a Hall of Fame former Yankees’ pitcher, is in a rare and privileged position of being an able-bodied, mentally competent, elderly, former athlete. He won titles, played for the sports most marquee franchise during a marquee time for the franchise and is in a position to help advance the sport to younger generations and expand its popularity around the world.
Instead he was a lawn short of telling everybody to get off of it, presumably waving a fist instead of a cane because of the aforementioned physique.
Jose Bautista, to his credit, praised Gossage instead of offering a rebuttal. Because at 36-years-old, Bautista knows he has a few bat flips in store for the Yankees this season on the field instead of needing to jeopardize a big money contract by developing a “reputation” in a walk year off of it.
Players today understand to avoid being shown up, they must succeed. And if they decide to show someone else up, they can expect the same in return when they fail.
And on the same day Gossage was offering his unsolicited opinion about today’s most watched players, denouncing analytics and math advancements in the sport like an out of touch “jock” who spent more time harassing students in math class than paying attention in it, perhaps the league’s most important player offered his own opinions on the game.
“Baseball’s tired,” he says. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair… there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.”
These are the words of reigning National League MVP, Bryce Harper, he of the .330/.460 slash line with 42 home runs in a time of the game where power and OBP are down and pitching is up.
Harper gets it. He understands what’s popular in the present and who people care about.
Goose Gossage isn’t going to draw a single fan to stadiums this year. Twenty years from now most casual fans won’t remember who he is and most of us will have never seen how he “played the game” because everyone who did will be near death or already gone.
The market- the landscape of America-demands entertainment and personality. It’s the same of Football, it’s the same of Basketball and it should be the same for Baseball. Whether or not you agree with it doesn’t change the truth.
Whether or not players celebrate achievements at 12-years-old or 32-years-old doesn’t matter so Goose shouldn’t concern himself with it. They should learn to take failure and celebrate success, after all, baseball is designed to mostly experience the former, so why not praise the latter?
If this is a sport we constantly preach being more about life than a game, shouldn’t it reflect how a healthy and happy person goes about it?
And for such a tough man past his prime and no longer in the game, it’s a pretty fragile ego not to be able to handle being shown up when you fail, but having no problem physically trying to harm someone in retaliation when they can’t defend themselves (that was the norm in Gossage’s day) or celebrate when you succeed. After all, players have always celebrated, but only when it’s within the rules.
Well it’s time we learned the most important rule of all. They were made to be broken.
Especially the unwritten ones.