Richard Gossage’s illustrious career landed him in Cooperstown, and it also spanned one of the most interesting transitions in MLB history.
The man called Goose debuted in 1972 with the Chicago White Sox, the first of nine teams he played for over 22 years in the majors. When he stepped off the mound for the last time, he had faced Hank Aaron, the onetime home run king, and shared a locker room with Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, the Bash Brothers who mark the beginning of the Steroid Era.
With the Biogenesis controversy, it’s clear baseball has not yet erased this tarnish on the game and its history, and the Goose — candid and committed to the game’s integrity — is sick of it.
“It’s unfortunate that these guys keep cheating,” he says to Tiki, Brandon, and Dana on The Morning Show. “The psychological part of it must be tremendous on these guys — to do steroids and not get off of them. If they’re going to make you a better player, it’s hard to go out there naked.”
Make no mistake, though: performance-enhancing drug use is unfortunate for the game, not the cheaters. Gossage has no sympathy for juicers, and he doesn’t believe his fraternity of the baseball’s greatest players should, either.
“I’ve been very adamant about the Hall of Fame. If we let these guys in—are we going to reward these guys for cheating? I don’t think so,” Goose argues. “I think we ought to reinstate the records — the home run record by Roger Maris and Aaron’s record of 755. I don’t even think we should recognize their numbers.”
“I just think their all liars, and they’re going to deny it until they do get caught,” he adds.
He can make that claim not only because he has heard the doublespeak that baseball’s stars have fed the media so often since the MLB has started cracking down on PEDs, but because he played alongside the cheaters once upon a time. Back when no one was talking about drugs, they still lied with their bats.
“We suspected it — we meaning Dennis Eckersley and I would sit there during batting practice and just shake our heads,” Gossage recalls from his days with the Oakland A’s, where he played with Eckersley, McGwire, and Canseco.
“I never saw bat speeds like these guys. I faced Aaron. I played with the greatest player I ever saw play, was Dick Allen. These bat speeds were human. You watched McGwire and Sosa and Canseco and Bonds. These bat speeds — I studied hitters for 25 years, I never saw bat speeds like this.”
“People that poo-poo it and say that these things really don’t do that much — if you’ve got two athletes of the same ability, one on and one off, you’ve got two different animals.”
It’s not rocket science to figure out why a fringe player might want an extra edge, but it puzzles Gossage why the likes of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez — guys who were great before they started using PEDs — would then resort to cheating.
“I think ego really drives these guys,” he offers. “They see guys doing things that aren’t human. Home runs and — I mean, how far do you really need to hit the ball? I think that Bonds saw what was going on across the bay with Canseco and McGwire. I think that these guys can’t stand to see somebody outdoing them or something.”
Ultimately, the legendary reliever can’t be satisfied with his own answer. After all, there is no satisfaction in the rationalization of PEDs, only in the eradication.
“I don’t know what it is,” he resigns. “It’s unfortunate, but I wish these guys would come clean and quit lying.”