Former Yankees closer and Hall of Fame inductee, Goose Gossage, says comparisons between Mo and himself are “insulting.” You know what Goose, you are the one who is insulting.
The Yankees have been fortunate in having several go-to guys in their bullpen who had the ability to come in and close out games. Going all the way back to the 1960’s when the concept of a closer wasn’t even yet categorized in the stats, Luis Arroyo and his tantalizing “screwball” saved many a game for Whitey Ford. Sparky Lyle emerged during the Bronx Zoo years, John Wettland in the nineties, and finally, of course, Mariano Rivera.
In between, was Rich Gossage, who pitched for the Yankees from 1978-83. Over that span, he led the American League in saves twice, with modest save totals of 27 and 33. In neither of those years, would numbers like that even crack the Top Ten Save Leaders in 2016
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And that’s precisely the point Gossage doesn’t seem to get when he lashes out at Mariano Rivera and others like him as “one-inning guys.” Gossage was dominant in his time as a player, but it was a different era. It’s like trying to make the nonsensical comparison of Babe Ruth to Mike Trout. Why even bother?
The vehemence with which Gossage makes his claim is uncalled for, and in the end, makes him appear rather ignorant. Here’s a sample taken from the New York Daily News this morning:
"“Do what I did and we’ll compare apples to apples,” Gossage replied following an expletive when asked about Mo being considered the best of all-time. “Or Sutter or Fingers, the guys that set the bar. I’ll tell you what, setup guys have a harder role today than closers today.”"
What’s lacking, though, in Gossage’s logic, if you can call it that, is that Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers had a different job description when they pitched. And unlike a lefty specialist like Boone Logan, whose job it is to get one hitter out, or Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to get three batters out, Sutter, Fingers, and yes, Gossage too, were expected to get five, six, or nine hitter out. The game of baseball, and especially the use of relievers, has evolved and Gossage apparently doesn’t get that.
And what’s even more off-color is that Gossage made these comments (not for the first time either) as a guest of the Yankees as an “Instructor.”
The point he tries to make about Rivera is moot, anyway. Because when Rivera first came up to the Yankees in 1995, he was the set-up man for Wettland and not the closer. And if Gossage had taken the time to actually look at Rivera’s stats, he would have noted that Rivera logged 107 innings over 61 appearances in 1996, with zero saves. Proving, that Rivera was more than capable of handling his job when it required facing more than three hitters.
And what’s even more off-color is that Gossage made these comments (not for the first time either) as a guest of the Yankees as an “Instructor.” Which, as it turns out is somewhat of an anomaly when you consider what guys like Justus Sheffield, Aaron Judge, and Greg Bird must be thinking about the Yankees choice of “mentors” for them as they begin their careers.
Or maybe, it’s just that you have a guy like Gossage who made a career out of being an intimidator on the mound, and he just can’t escape from that demeanor. But that doesn’t mean that the Yankees should excuse his behavior. In fact, it should be the opposite. And next year, Goose Gossage might find that the team has had enough of his annual antics, and an invitation to Spring Training is not forthcoming.
Which by the way, begs the question. When is Mariano Rivera going to be invited as a Guest Instructor? There’s a man who knows how to handle himself in a Yankees uniform……..