Sunday, June 25, 2006

The New York Times

To Gossage, Bonds Isn't Fit for Hall 
June 25, 2006
Goose Gossage, a Hall of Fame candidate with strong opinions on most baseball subjects, suited up for Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium yesterday. With Barry Bonds accused of using steroids, does Gossage think Bonds's pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record of 755 is legitimate?

"No, I don't," Gossage said. "The integrity of the game is all these numbers that all those great players like Hank and Babe Ruth put up before. I could never understand why there wasn't an investigation being done."


Gossage said that baseball executives thought increased drug testing, instituted after Congressional hearings more than a year ago, would make the problem go away, but that they were proven wrong when the book "Game of Shadows," which was published this spring, detailed specific accusations.


During his playing career, Gossage said, he suspected some players of steroid use but never saw anything firsthand. An investigation by Major League Baseball is in progress under George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader.


"It seems to be beyond what anyone even thought," Gossage said of steroid use. "I'm wondering why is nothing being done to protect the integrity of the game. They're keeping Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame for gambling which they should."


Gossage pitched, mostly in relief, for nine teams from 1972 through 1994, including six years with the Yankees. In last January's Hall of Fame voting, he finished third, behind Bruce Sutter and Jim Rice. But only Sutter was named on the required 75 percent of the ballots needed for induction. Sutter will be the fourth relief pitcher inducted when ceremonies at Cooperstown, N.Y., are held on July 30.


Gossage played in 1,002 games and in nine All-Star games. He had a record of 124-107, an earned run average of 3.01 and 310 saves, while striking out 1,502 batters over 1,809 innings. But he played mostly before the era of the specialized closer.


Closers today usually get a save after working only the ninth inning. Gossage often entered games earlier and pitched multiple innings. With a hefty build and intimidating style, Gossage was the prototype against which many closers are measured.


Gossage, 54, lives in Colorado. He said that pitchers today do not work the inside of the plate enough and that the hitters do not respect pitchers as they once did. He mentioned Boston's Manny Ramirez, who often stands near home plate to watch his home runs.


"I would have drilled Manny years ago," Gossage said. "He wouldn't have pulled that stuff, stand there and stare at home runs."


RAINOUT Between two long rain delays, the Yankees and the Florida Marlins played half an inning yesterday at Yankee Stadium, with Florida taking a 1-0 lead. Almost three hours after the scheduled 4:05 p.m. start, the game was postponed.


The game was rescheduled for tonight as part of a doubleheader with separate admissions. The first game is to begin at 1 p.m., as scheduled.


Tickets or rain checks for yesterday's rained-out game will be honored tonight, the Yankees announced, or can be exchanged for a different game this season or in 2007.


Mike Mussina will start for the Yankees in the first game. Shawn Chacon, who pitched briefly yesterday, will start tonight's game, Manager Joe Torre said. Should Chacon be unavailable to pitch, Torre said, the starter will be Ron Villone.


If one or both of today's games are rained out, they cannot be made up immediately, because the Yankees are to play host to Atlanta tomorrow and the Marlins are to play at home against Tampa Bay. A CAST AND A SMILE Gary Sheffield, the Yankees' injured right fielder, sat on the dugout bench before yesterday's game wearing street clothes, a cast on his surgically repaired left wrist and a smile on his face.


Sheffield said he would wear the cast for two to four more weeks and then begin rehabilitation. He said he could not predict whether he would play in September.


"I'm not sure of anything," Sheffield said. "I can just say I hope so. I'm a quick healer."


Sheffield had a tear of a ligament of his wrist, according to the Yankees. He was first injured on April 29 in a collision at first base with Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand. Sheffield, 37, tried to return twice and played eight games in May but reinjured the wrist before submitting to surgery. His stitches were removed Wednesday.


His contract expires after this season, and Sheffield has been hoping the Yankees will pick up his $13 million option.


"To me, I've got 18 years to back up what I can do," Sheffield said. "I'm going to play three more years. I just have to put my mind to doing it."