Hall of Famer Goose Gossage rips today's MLB: 'They're going to have nerds in the dugout'
You’re no doubt familiar with the usual complaints about today’s game — excessive strikeout rates, the emphasis on home runs, the declining importance of the starting pitcher, the shift, replay review, and the general lack of ball-in-play action. As many great players and great games as we have in MLB right now, these objections seem at times just as prominent as any highlight catch or home run.
Speaking of complaints, Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller recently talked to some Hall of Famers, a scout and exec or two, and some active players about what they see as problems with Major League Baseball in its current form. Not surprisingly, retired hurler and Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, as is his wont, was the most trenchant in his comments. Here’s what Gossage had to say:
“We could sit here and talk all day about the way the game has been changed, and not in a good way. I try to watch a baseball game, and I find it very difficult to be able to watch today.”
“I think if more people spoke out, there would be [pushback],” Gossage says. “I thought Joe Torre, when he went into the commissioner’s office [as MLB’s chief baseball officer in 2011], we’d have a good ally there. But money—you’re collecting a paycheck. … Coaches used to put a foot in your ass, and they had authority because they were hired for that job. Now, it’s soft.
“They’re going to have nerds in the dugout. And I’ve said it: If [Yankees general manager Brian] Cashman had any balls, he’d have done that a long time ago. Or he’d like to now. Put a nerd in uniform. Because anybody can manage today. There’s 100 pitches, and then you start parading your 10 relievers in.”
Miller’s piece has much more from many other sources, so check it out.
As mentioned, Gossage’s complaints are all familiar ones. Miller is correct when he points out that an unprecedented percentage of the average game in 2018 doesn’t involve the defense at all. Take a narrower view, though, and it comes down to a handful of missing plays per game. For some fans and observers, it wouldn’t even register if you didn’t know about the trends in advance. Maybe this is being overblown a bit. Besides, fans seem to like home runs and strikeouts, and those two categories make up much of said trend.
Otherwise, you’ve got stuff about the current game being soft and run by those who aren’t true baseball men. Even if you agree with Gossage’s assessments, they’ve been around since time immemorial. The outgoing generation cavils about the incoming one, and time remains a flat circle.
It’s possible that baseball does need some structural changes in order to incentivize certain things, and commissioner Rob Manfred has shown nothing if not a willingness to tinker. However, complaints from seasoned complainers aren’t necessarily instructive or even symptomatic of a genuine problem.