It certainly won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has heard him rant over the years, but Goose Gossage fully supports the letter fellow Hall of Famer Joe Morgan sent out late in 2017 imploring baseball writers to keep steroids users out of Cooperstown.
What, you expected something different from him?
“Absolutely, I agree with Joe Morgan, 100 percent,” Gossage said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “It’s a bunch of bulls–t that they’re even considering these guys. They don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
“There are probably guys that (did steroids) already in there, and I think any guys that are already in ought to come clean for the sake of the game, and then we finally could put this to rest. I don’t blame the writers, I understand both sides of the coin. But if you don’t think Roger Clemens or (Barry) Bonds did steroids, you just got here from Mars.”
You’d have to be from another planet, of course, to not know that the always-outspoken Gossage and other Hall of Famers have felt this way from the start.
Honestly, I called Gossage on Wednesday morning primarily for his thoughts on the passing of former Yankee teammate Oscar Gamble, but then figured if there ever was a “while I have you on the phone” opportunity, this was it.
“(Barry) Bonds, let me tell you, he may have been a Hall of Famer before, but he broke the most sacred record of all, (Hank Aaron’s) home-run records,” Gossage said. “(Ken) Griffey (Jr) was supposed to break that record, the guy that everybody speculated was going to break it anyway. He didn’t do steroids, but he didn’t make it to the end of the race to break it. Here’s a guy in Bonds that had some of his greatest years at the end of his career, which doesn’t happen in baseball.
Goose Gossage doesn’t understand why voters would elect known steroid users in the Hall of Fame.
“That’s why Congress got involved, when baseball wasn’t doing anything in-house to clean the mess up. Until Congress got involved, we didn’t have anybody looking at it that closely. They were just kind of letting it go.”
Morgan, the vice chairman of the Hall of Fame, roundly was criticized by BBWAA members for the too-late letter sent to voters through the official Hall email account in November, yet it turned out that Clemens and Bonds barely gained any traction in the voting this year — improving by about 3 percentage points apiece to the 57 percent percent range.
Such a slow uptick of support puts their ability to reach the required 75 percent threshold over their four remaining years of eligibility in jeopardy, although they polled above 90 percent with first-time voters, a trend that will have to continue for them to have any chance at enshrinement.
“I certainly hope not,” Gossage said, “because the horse is out of the barn if they do.”
As Goose alluded to earlier, suspected PED users such as Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez gained entrance to the Hall of Fame in recent years. “I’m not going to name names, they know who they are,” he added. “They have to sleep at night. They have to look over their shoulders.”
The Veterans Committee’s induction of steroids-era commissioner Bud Selig last year further muddied the controversy, and it served as a final impetus for several voters – myself included — to finally include the likes of Bonds and Clemens on their ballots the past two years. (I am still a “no” on the others, however, particularly those who were suspended under subsequently installed MLB rules such as Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez).
Goose Gossage says that by using steroids, Barry Bonds ‘broke the most sacred record of all.’
(Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)
“I don’t know how we reward anyone for basically turning a blind eye to this, but in the same breath, I played and I didn’t know what was going on,” Gossage said. “It wasn’t like it was out blatantly or in the clubhouse or blatantly anywhere. They did it all behind closed doors.
“I didn’t know it was going on and it was going on right in front of my face. (Dennis) Eckersley and I played two years together in Oakland, and we would just watch batting practice in the outfield with (Mark) McGwire and (Jose) Canseco. He would look at me and just his roll his eyes, like ‘what is going on here?’ We definitely figured something was going on, but what?
“I played two years out there, lockered next to Canseco, and all I can say about that is he was the first one who’d ever come clean and you have to commend him for that.”
Gossage also has been outspoken over the years about any comparisons between relievers of his generation with modern-day closers such as Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. The latter was inducted into the Hall this year on his third try on the ballot – along with Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vlad Guerrero — while Mariano should sail in next year in his first year of eligibility.
“I was very happy with the way the voting went this year. All of the players voted in, I don’t think there was any question they were very deserving. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind,” Gossage said. “I was disappointed Edgar (Martinez) didn’t make it. But I was glad to see Trevor get in.
“I couldn’t believe it took him this long, that it took three years. Of course, Mariano had the opportunities and all of the success in the postseason, which separates him from everybody. But that shouldn’t be a reflection on Trevor. So I was happy to see him go.
“But I’m just glad people didn’t make a jump in the steroids bunch.”