Speaking from the capital of Nerdville on Friday, the 10th annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Bill James responded to Goose Gossage's epic anti-"nerd" diatribe in which Gossage basically says analytics have poisoned the game of baseball.
"The game is becoming a freaking joke because of the nerds who are running it," the Hall of Fame relief pitcher told ESPN's Andrew Marchand on Thursday as part of an expansive verbal at-bat. "I'll tell you what has happened, these guys played Rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever the [expletive] they went and they thought they figured the [expletive] game out. They don't know [expletive]."
MIT, Harvard, close enough. Sitting with a panel on the legacy of Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball” (later adapted into a Brad Pitt-led movie), James responded with what amounts to a shrug:
“That’s what’s changed since 2002,” James said, per The Boston Globe. “You used to have to have to pay attention to those guys [like Gossage]. Now you can just ignore them.”
So the father of sabermetrics is content to close his ears to Gossage, the father of the set-up man/closer roles.
Gossage also appeared on "The Michael Kay Show" on Thursday afternoon and I got to listen to him make his case against nerds, and voice his disdain for Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who famously flipped his bat after a 3-run homer to give Toronto a lead against Texas in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS.
The 20-minute conversation made for some hilarious highway listening, but Gossage is so out-of-touch that it was also kind of sad. He's anti-intellectual and with his repeated cries of "nerd" he's also a bully. Overall his stance amounts to quintessential "back in my day" nonsense.
Red Sox statistician Bill James.
"[Bautista] is embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him," Gossage said. "Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto."
But then during his radio conversation, Gossage lamented that today, managers can't throw a base or kick dirt on an umpire like they did during his playing career.
What exactly is respectable about a grown man having a temper tantrum before thousands of fans? Why should that be preserved? Sure it can be amusing but it's incredibly foolish.
What Gossage actually wants, he can't have: a time machine.