New York Yankees guest instructor Rich “Goose” Gossage speaks with a member of the media during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, in Tampa, Fla.
By Randy Miller
TAMPA — In a wide-ranging, cutting interview, Hall of Fame reliever andYankees great Goose Gossage on Friday ripped called Mariano Rivera and Aroldis Chapman “one-inning” relievers whose greatness couldn’t be compared to his.
Gossage spoke to NJ Advance Media in the home dugout at Steinbrenner Field while the club was going through a spring training workout.
Gossage doesn’t believe Rivera, the MLB saves leader, is the greatest reliever of all-time, and he insists he is offended when fans and reporters compare him to Rivera.
Before he was done, Goose took shots at Bud Selig, Barry Bonds, today’s sabermetric general managers and especially pitchers, who he calls inning-counting babies.
NJ Advance Media: What do you think about the Yankees’ offseason moves? Aroldis Chapman is back. Matt Holliday is here. A lot of young players. Do you like what’s going on?
Gossage: “Well, spring is the eternal optimist and we are in the spring time. So we’re just going to have to wait and see. There are so many question marks in how guys are going to perform. You know what? Numbers can be very misleading.”
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.”
NJAM: Do you miss the old days?
Gossage: “I would like to see these guys come into more jams, into tighter situations and finish the game … (come in) in the seventh, eighth or ninth innings (with runners on). I don’t think they’re utilizing these guys to the maximum efficiency and benefit to your ballclub.”
NJAM: Do you think pitchers are being babied nowadays?
Gossage: “Oh, absolutely. A hundred pitch counts are killing these kids. Yeah. I think they’re killing their endurance.”
NJAM: I look at the innings you pitched as a reliever and it’s crazy compared to now. I remember Mike Marshall won 15 games and pitched 200 innings as a Dodgers reliever in 1974.
Gossage: “Oh, yeah.”
NJAM: How do you fix it?
Gossage: “It’s funny. And they’re killing them in the process. Agents are bad. Agents create a lot of this pressure by protecting their kids, and in return they’re really killing these kids. They’re turning them into a bunch of babies, a bunch of pampered babies. And they’re letting money dictate this whole thing. When we made $18,000 … they didn’t care.”
NJAM: Is that what you made early in your career?
Gossage: “I made $12,500 my first year in the big leagues in 1972. So I’ve seen money dictate this whole game. It’s changed every facet of the game.”
NJAM: Is it going to get worse?
Gossage: “It’s not going to get any better. It’s getting more to five innings, see you later (for starting pitchers). They are creating these guys, I think, because the more money they make, the more they’re babied. It’s funny.”
NJAM: There may never be another 300-game winner again.
Gossage: “There never will be. Never. There may not be a 200-game winner. They may not be another 200-game winner! Is anybody ever going to go into the Hall of Fame? How are you going to set the benchmark up here (in the majors)? And now you’re going to five and fly? Five innings and these guys are looking over their shoulder. The first thing they ask when they come in the dugout is, ‘How many pitches do I have?’ If we’d ask that back in the day, and I’m not comparing old school to new school, but I’m just saying they would say, ‘Son, get your ass out there and when you get tired, we’ll come and get you.'”
NJAM: Quality start … three earned runs, six innings. That’s a 4.50 ERA.
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: I think a lot of newer Hall of Fame voters just look at save totals and that’s why it took longer for you to get in. But you came into games in the seventh inning a lot of times.
Gossage: “I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but let me tell you, over the course of a season every one of those outs is like the ninth inning. That is like a ninth-inning out.”
NJAM: I voted Bruce Sutter as well as you for the Hall because I thought you guys were clearly the dominating guys of your era.
Gossage: “We were workhorses. Starters still prided themselves in finishing what they started and when they got in trouble, that’s when we came into the game. I’d like to know how many of my saves … how many inherited runners I came in with and a guy like Mo, how many inherited runners did he come in with? My point is not to knock what Mo did. I’m saying that he could be utilized more efficiently and more beneficial to your team by bringing him into games earlier.”
NJAM: What do you think about Chapman. He got onto a conference call after he re-signed with the Yankees in December and said that he felt overused by the Cubs last year in the offseason. Joe Girardi asked about that the other day and said, “He got a World Series ring out of it.”
Gossage: “They created it. They have created this.”
NJAM: Would you like to talk to Chapman?
Gossage: “There isn’t nothing I can do. The horse is out of the barn.”
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: Why is that?
Gossage: “They come in with inherited runners. They come into jams.”
NJAM: You have to like then what Terry Francona did with Andrew Miller in the playoffs last year. He used him as early as the fifth inning.
Gossage: “Ah, man. Yeah, of course you (like seeing that). … They’re creating these guys and turning them into a bunch of fricking soft (wimps).”
NJAM: The Blue Jays GM suggested this week that MLB should shorten games to 7 innings.
Gossage: “Well, here we go again. Baseball is being run by a computer. That’s it. Replay … they can take replay and shove it up their ass. It’s taking all the character out of the game. You’re not going to have managers (like) Billy Martin or Earl Weaver or Lou Piniella coming out of the (bleeping) dugout and bringing people out of their seats. Whether you were the home team or the visitors, (fans) loved it. That’s character. That’s gone. Why do we have to control everything? Let me tell you something: Those of us who played the game like we played it (from my era) gave up a long time ago trying to control this game. You let it come to you, and whatever happens then dictates what you do.”
NJAM: I guess you hate the sabermetrics of baseball.
Gossage: “Oh, you know what it is: These guys don’t know baseball, so they’ve got one thing to tell them how to do it, and that’s numbers. And they won their rotisserie leagues at (bleeping) Harvard and all these (bleeping) Ivy League schools, and that’s all it is. And they think they’re (bleeping) general managers! And that’s the way the game has gone. They’re taking all the character out of the game and creating a bunch of soft guys.”
NJAM: When I covered the Phillies, Charlie Manuel used to say, ‘Watch the game, son. Watch the game.” Pat Gillick, a Hall of Fame exec, used to tell me, ‘Watch with your eyes and see if the guy can play.”
Gossage: “There it is. Absolutely, absolutely! Look at San Francisco. They’ve won three out of the last six World Series or whatever it is. They’ve got an old-school person at the top (in executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean) who takes into consideration the little things that players do that don’t show up in those (bleeping) statistics.”
NJAM: It’s going to get worse?
Gossage: “It’s going to get worse. The horse is out of the barn. It’s gone. And who knows where this game is going to go. They’re going to do away with umpires. We’re not even going to have umpires on the field. Why would we need umpires? Robots. That’s what it’s become. Players are becoming robots. They’re turning them into it.”
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: I get email from fans all the time who are upset when Girardi takes a pitcher out after five or six good innings.
Gossage: “How about the (2016) World Series. The kid [Josh Tomlin of Cleveland] has got a shutout (through five innings) and they take him out of the game. You could get an idiot who doesn’t even know what a baseball is and manage a baseball game because it’s so cookie cutter. A hundred pitches, goodbye. Bring in your lefty to face a guy. Bring in your next lefty in the sixth inning. Bring in a righty, righties are coming up. That’s why they need (bleeping) eight relievers in the (bleeping) bullpen.”
NJAM: I remember Dellin Betances being asked late last season if he was available after he had pitched three times in four days or something like that, and he said, “Are you trying to kill me?”
Gossage: “I think I pitched seven days in a row, if I remember correctly. That was not the norm. There is a fine line in killing a kid (by overworking a lot nowadays) and not, where we built up endurance.”
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.”
NJAM: One other subject: I’ve been a Hall of Famer voter for 12 years and some players from your era don’t want the PED guys in. What’s your stance?
Gossage: “You know what? They talk about Barry Bonds. He broke the most sacred record in the record books, the home run record. He broke it. Ken Griffey Jr. was supposed to break that record and he didn’t make the end of the race because he broke down. And Bonds had the greatest years of his career the last four or five years. That doesn’t happen. That doesn’t (bleeping) happen. So I think Bud Selig should have reinstated that damn record. Make a (bleeping) statement! … Just be realistic and don’t poo-poo it. Don’t say that he was a Hall of Famer. He broke the most sacred record in the books because of steroids. And because the Bash Brothers (Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire) and Bonds’ ego couldn’t deal with the guys across the (bleeping) bay (playing for Oakland).”
NJAM: I tell people to read “Game of Shadows” and then tell me if you think Bonds is a Hall of Famer.
Gossage: “Absolutely. And we’re going reward these (bleepers). There are probably a couple of (PED users) in there already. You know the way (2016 nominee) Pudge (Rodriguez) answered his question (when Canseco said he shot him up with steroids).”
NJAM: Pudge responded, “Only God knows.”
Gossage: “Yes or no. How about a yes or (bleeping) no?”