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Goose Gossage Comments on Bryce Harper, State of MLB

Rich
Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Joe PantornoFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2016

Baseball Hall of Famer Goose Gossage let his dissatisfaction with the current state of Major League Baseball be known during a tirade Thursday in which he went after Jose Bautista, per Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com. 

On Friday, he continued to air his grievances, this time directing his anger toward reigning National League MVP and Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper after the 23-year-old told ESPN's Tim Keown that baseball is a "tired sport."

"What does this kid know?" Gossage asked ESPN Chicago 1000's Waddle and Silvy show on Friday (via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post). "This kid doesn't know squat about the game, and [has] no respect for it."

Gossage, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008 following a 22-year career, played through two players strikes, the evolution of modern-day free agency and baseball before contracts reached as high as $300 million. 

Hearing Harper say that players "can't do what people in other sports do" struck a nerve with Gossage:

Here he is making millions of frickin’ dollars; that’s great. I’m happy for all the players and all the money that they’re making, because it’s hard-earned by all the players that came before these guys. Ninety percent of these guys never went through a strike, a work stoppage. They don’t know the blood sweat and tears that has been spent on what these guys are making. All we wanted was a piece of the pie. Marvin Miller did that, Curt Flood, from on up. My career started out on the first strike in 1972, and it ended in the last one in 1994, when we lost a World Series, which should have never happened, but it did. ... We fought for everything these players are getting. So let me tell Bryce Harper something: go look at the history, figure it out and quit acting like a fool. ...

... You know, it seems like money has really changed this game. And not for the best. And not for the better.

Harper isn't one of those players making exorbitant money quite yet. He's in the last year of a two-year, $7.5 million deal and is scheduled to hit arbitration after the 2016 season ends, according to Spotrac

However, Gossage should know that Harper is a student of the game and a hard-nosed one at that. In 2013, he told Jon Saraceno of USA Today that Nationals fans will see "a fiery guy no matter if I'm sick, hurt or on my deathbed."

He even compared his early career exploits to those of Mickey Mantle and said he studied George Brett and Pete Rose. So Harper might know a little more than Gossage gives him credit for.

Gossage, though, didn't just focus on Harper. He also addressed players who celebrate after achieving successes on the field:

I went in the clubhouse and shook hands. ... We went in the clubhouse and went by each guy’s locker and congratulated one another. That’s how we did it. We didn’t celebrate in front of everybody. But now, that’s not the way. Now, it’s all about "dig me, dig me, man, I just hit a bomb."

No matter how angry he gets or how loud he yells, Gossage won't be able to stop the change that has come to MLB.

In the age of social media, viral videos and hashtags, players are being celebrated for celebrating. That's something that won't change, either, unless MLB imposes some type of ruling on bat flips and fist pumps, which would be an asinine thing to do. 

Instead, if players do take offense to demonstrative displays on the field, let them police things like they always have. Whether it be a pitch that buzzes a bit too close to the batter or getting in an opponent's face, those opposed to celebration will find a way to combat it.  

But as it stands, Gossage going after the game's biggest players won't accomplish anything.  

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