Goose Gossage was on the phone talking baseball, as he will be Monday night at a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry reunion event at Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre.
Talking about when baseball was a game, the “most awesome game,’’ back when he was dominating in the 1970s and ‘80s, relishing his time in pinstripes, pegging the 1978 one-game, Bucky F-ing Dent, playoff in Boston as the ultimate highlight.
And talking about how it’s all so different now.
“I don’t even watch the game anymore,’’ Gossage said. “It breaks my heart that I can’t sit down and watch nine innings of baseball because it’s not the game I was brought up playing and respecting and loving. The strategy of the game — where do we start talking about the differences? It’s all become so computerized.’’
Gossage is 68, with something of a “Get off my lawn” tone. But his passion for the game is clear when talking about the influence of analytics-driven methodologies and philosophies employed by the current era of well-schooled team execs.
He raved about the success of the Giants in winning three championships from 2010-14 with an old-school style “get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in” approach and phenomenal pitching, “stuff that the computer doesn’t even compute,’’ assuring it can still be effective now.
“This launch angle — I don’t need a launch angle to tell me George Brett’s ball is going to hit in the upper deck,’’ Gossage said. “They’re all really smart, but they have no respect for knowledge of the game. None. …
“We’ll see if it lasts and survives the test of time like the old game did.’’
Gossage doesn’t need much prompting to get on a roll, tossing barbs like he used to throw fastballs:
* “There already are steroid guys in the Hall of Fame. … Anything goes these days.’’
* “Swinging for the fences, that uppercut (that’s so common), oh my God, if I pitched today they wouldn’t even sniff a ball.’’
* “Guys used to steal signs all the time. Robin Yount and Paul Molitor were a couple of the best at stealing signs from second base, and (catcher Thurman) Munson comes out one day and says, ‘I think they’re stealing our signs.’ I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ Munson runs back, he didn’t even say anything, we knew what to do. He called a breaking ball and I threw a fastball under Robin Yount’s chin, and I think he saw his life flash before his eyes.’’
* “I don’t even recognize this game that they’re playing. I really don’t. You get paid all this money for doing less, doing half.’’
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* “These (stat-driven) workouts are all eyewash. It’s a bunch of bulls---. It’s like the Democrats are running baseball.’’
* "They’re trying to control something that is uncontrollable. And they’re taking all the beauty out of the game.’’
* "Go ahead boys, take all the credit — fire up your computer, put in all the information and see what it comes up with. (Yankees GM Brian) Cashman has 20 of them (guys) running around. He stops and 20 of them bump into each other.''
Gossage will be joined Monday by fellow Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (who played for both teams), plus Dent, Mickey Rivers, Luis Tiant, Bernie Carbo and the odd couple pairing of Bill Lee and Graig Nettles, who fought famously in 1976 after Lou Piniella sparked a brawl by crashing into Carlton Fisk. “We may see (Lee and Nettles) go at it,’’ Gossage said. “That would be exciting.’’
Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman will host what’s billed as a program of stories, videos and a Q-and-A, with tickets starting at $25 and a VIP package at $79, available at rutheckerdhall.com.
“That rivalry was really something,’’ Gossage said. “Back when we were playing, we hated them, and they hated us.’’
Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.