By every account known to man, the Yankees treat their former players with the utmost respect. Old Timer’s Day is a great annual event, and older players are a staple around the complex in Tampa every spring training. Players of the past come to share their knowledge of the game with players of today, and there is little limit to how valuable that time can be.
However, that respect shouldn’t be without limitations. Goose Gossage has become a problem. His comments last year on Jose Bautista and playing baseball as he deems right and good got him in trouble last year, and he decided to not learn any lesson from that by going several steps further this time. Except this time he insulted a Yankee. A great Yankee. One of the best Yankees.
The media gives Gossage a platform because now he has a reputation for spouting off. Stick a microphone in his face and see what crazy stuff you can get him to say. Last time it was him ripping on anyone who has fun playing baseball, this time it’s touting himself as a better reliever than Mariano Rivera and diminishing Rivera’s successful career.
It’s too far. It’s too much. Not only is Gossage apparently incapable of answering questions without a heavy use of expletives, but he is embarrassing the organization he represents. He is meant to be a mentor to the younger players in Tampa in spring training, but the way he is acting should be an example of everything not to do.
Brian Cashman reportedly had a meeting with Gossage after his comments last year, and the assumed message was that the Hall of Fame pitcher might want to stick a sock in it. Maybe that message was received for a little while, but it is clearly no longer being heard.
Letting Gossage continue his rants even after being spoken to makes the Yankees look complicit in his commentary. Yes, they had a meeting with him where they presumably told him to pipe down. He didn't and Brian Cashman refuses to tell him he's no longer welcome at camp. When someone comes to your house and acts unruly, you tell them to stop. If they don't, you tell them to leave. Otherwise it looks like you're okay with them causing a scene.
It’s still true. Letting him continue to behave this way without public reprimand makes it seem like the organization is okay with what he’s doing and they absolutely shouldn’t be. Maybe insulting players from elsewhere in baseball didn’t cross the team’s line, but putting down one of the best Yankees ever? That should be the final straw.
In case you missed it, here are some snippets of Gossage’s comments:
NJAM: What do you think about Chapman returning?
Gossage: "Well, they're one-inning guys."
NJAM: And you often were a three-inning guy, right?
Gossage: "Yeah, it's totally different, so don't even compare me here. Chapman's great. Mo (Rivera) was great ... for one inning."
Gossage: "Ah! ... And let me tell you something, these guys that pitch one inning with the three-run lead (and get a) save. It shouldn't even be a save for one inning and a three-run lead. This is not a knock against Mo. I'm just trying to make a point that I'd like to know how many of Mo's saves are of one inning with a three-run lead. If everybody in that (bleeping) bullpen can't save a three-run lead for one inning, they shouldn't even be in the big leagues. I'd like to know what percentage of Mo's 650 saves  or whatever he's got are one inning. I'll bet it's over 20 percent. Look it up."
NJAM: You mention Mo, but I think he was the one guy who at least was used in the eighth at times by Joe Torre
Gossage: "Bullshit! ... That's postseason. He never did it ... Very seldom in the (bleeping) regular season."
NJAM: Did you ever talk to Mo about it?
Gossage: "I told him. Yeah, we did it on (the) Michael Kay (TV show). Don't compare me to Mo or what they do today. They're one-inning guys. I take exception to that. Don't even (bleeping) put me ... closer wasn't even a coined phrase."
NJAM: So when people say Mo is the greatest reliever ....
Gossage. "(Bleep). That's bullshit. Do what I did and we'll compare apples to apples. Or Sutter or Rollie Fingers, the guys that set the bar. I'll tell you what, setup guys have a harder role today than closers today."
NJAM: Who's the greatest reliever of all-time in your mind?
Gossage: "I don't know. But you can't compare to what I used to do with Mo did."
NJAM: They named a relief award after Mo. Are you OK with that?
Gossage: "No. I wished I had pitched one inning. I might be still pitching at 65. I already had won the Firemen Award in '75 and then (the White Sox) came to me in the offseason and said, 'Hey, Goose, would you start? We need starters.' I said, 'Hey, I'll do whatever you guys want me to do.' I had 15 complete games. ... You know what? I don't want this to be a negative thing, but if we don't say anything nothing is ever going to happen. Not that even if I say anything (will change things)."
NJAM: You always used to hear the Japanese pitchers threw a lot and didn't worry about pitch counts, but that's changed, too.
Gossage: "They were workhorses, and they kind of took it to the other extreme. ... And I'm not taking anything away from what Mo did, but don't compare me to him. It's insulting. It really is."
There’s plenty more to this tirade, but you can click here to read the rest.
Gossage is absolutely correct. It is insulting to compare him to Rivera. He’s wrong about who it is insulting to, though. The fact that he has convinced himself that he is somehow superior, even to go as far as to say that Rivera shouldn’t have the reliever award named after him, is delusional.
Insulting Rivera is too far. Beyond being the best reliever baseball has ever seen, he’s also without question one of the better people who has ever played. He is good in a way that most of us can only aspire to. To have another Yankee insult his accomplishments this way is truly embarrassing. It should mean that it is time for Gossage to go. The team needs to put a decisive end to it.
Unless the Yankees are willing to explain to everyone why they are willing to let a mouthy old guy spout off about one of their own this way while simultaneously propping him up as a role model for current Yankees, someone in the front office needs to take action. The respect for former players shouldn’t extend to players who aren’t respectful of the organization or their fellow Yankees in such a public setting.
Gossage is a Hall of Famer and I get that. It doesn’t excuse his behavior in the slightest. Maybe taking away his platform for a bit would cause him to reconsider how he has chosen to represent himself and the organization. Letting him continue this way without reprimand that goes further than last time just means he’ll keep going.
Respect is a two-way street. Gossage has shown none, so it is time for the Yankees to retract theirs, at least for the time being. Send him home and make it stick for a while. Show Gossage, former players, and current players that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated by the team. That’s really the least that they can do.