August 22, 2009

Jim Rice Embarrasses Himself

Jim Rice is in the news for criticizing this generation of players as greedy:
The great trouble with baseball today is that most of the players are in the game for the money that's in it -- not for the love of it, the excitement ... the glorious thrill of it all ...
As I'm sure you know, this "Back in my day ..." attitude is a huge pet peeve of mine and I --

What?

Rice didn't say those words?

It was who --?

Ty Cobb?

In 1925?

Huh.
Example
Here is what Rice actually said, at the Little League World Series:
We didn't [have] the baggy uniforms; we didn't have the dreadlocks; that's not part of the game. It was a clean game, and now they are setting a bad example for the young guys. ... What you see right now is more individuals; it's not a team. Now you have guys coming in. They pick the days they want to play. They make big money. The first thing they see are dollar bills.
Rice isn't worth this work, but here goes:

1. "baggy uniforms" - Throughout most of baseball history, players wore baggy uniforms. Pictures exist of this. However, baseball also often follows American styles and in the Rice era, players wore tight pants. Rice's generation is the anomaly, not the rule.

2. "dreadlocks" - Statistical studies have shown that your choice of hair style do not make you hit or pitch better (or worse) than another person with "normal" hair. And check out some of the Afros from Rice's day, like Oscar Gamble's. Plus, the Afro was a political statement first associated with the Black Power Movement.

3. "a clean game" - Rice debuted with the Red Sox only five years after Sports Illustrated published a series of investigative stories showing that illegal drug use had infested every sport, including baseball. Players from that era now freely admit they popped amphetamines (now banned) like Skittles. And towards the end of Rice's career, baseball endured a huge cocaine scandal.

4. "more individuals ... not a team" - Weren't the Red Sox of Rice's day known by the "25 players, 25 cabs" adage?

5. "They pick the days they want to play" - Give me one example, Jim.

6. "dollar bills" - Rice's career began right around the time of free agency, a seismic shift in baseball history that allowed players (after a certain time) to offer their talents to the highest bidder or any team they wished to play for. Players were no longer chattel. Uploading all of the quotes from pre-free agency players complaining about the out-of-control salaries of Rice's era (and the big bucks that they missed out on) would likely break the internet.

Finally, Rice -- clueless to all of the words he had just spoken -- advised the young Little Leaguers:
[T]he first thing you need to have right now is respect.
So the player who once tried to start a fist fight in the dugout with his manager and who, ignorant of history, craps all over modern players is talking about "respect".

44 comments:

redsock said...

Rob Neyer makes much the same argument.

Amy said...

Didn't he also lump Jeter with others as a steroid user? As far I know, there are no such allegations about Jeter.

L-girl said...

Nice post. I'm thinking you should write a book about this.

L-girl said...

Amy, did you miss last night's game? Lucky you.

redsock said...

Not 'roids, but he did start off with this:

"You see a Manny Ramirez, you see an A-Rod, you see Jeter ... Guys that I played against and with, these guys you’re talking about cannot compare."

Gordon Edes notes that as late as 1987, Rice had the top salary in MLB.

Also, Rice is now saying he was misquoted. Jeter rightly calls bullshit: "Misquoted? How was he misquoted?"

redsock said...

A book -- of ignorant player quotes?

Amy said...

Harvey and I watched the game at the bar where we were eating dinner once we got to the Cape. Once the score reached 9-1 and I had had my second cosmo, I stopped paying attention... Thank God for alcohol.

9casey said...

When you don't speak well, you shouldn't speak.....Kinda like I am not so good with brain surgery, so I don't do it...

They finally let you in the Hall of Fame and this is how you act....C'mon Jim....

Amy said...

On what basis do Manny, ARod and Jeter not compare with the players in the 70s? I assume he meant drugs, maybe being hotdoggers, but not skills.

Rice: do you want us to un-retire your number based on stupidity?

James said...

On the plus side, all the Yanks fans at work are really upset about someone saying something bad about Derek Jeter. It's nuts; they literally cannot fathom someone saying Derek Jeter may not be the perfect role model for kids.

johngoldfine said...

First he says shit, then he says he was misquoted. Eventually he'll offer apologies (that's what we're supposed to do, y'see! I notice Rusty Calley just apologized for murdering several hundred people 40 years ago...not that Jim Rice is quite that egregious....) to anyone he may inadvertently have offended. If he's important enough (which he probably isn't) he can make a minor secondary career going around talking about what made him talk trash.

I don't think being a sports hero necessarily does anything to improve character: there seems to be the same ratio of spite, envy, ignorance, arrogance, hollow bravado, greed in the great and near-great (hello, Jim?) as we lesser mortals bear.

redsock said...

Speaking of $:

"It isn't right to call me or any ballplayer an ingrate because we ask for more money. Sure I want more, all I'm entitled to. Listen, a man who works for another man is not going to paid any more than he's worth."

-- Babe Ruth

johngoldfine said...

I always remember what Jim Bouton says Johnny Sain always told him about contract negotiations: 'Never be afraid to climb those golden stairs.'

True! But you don't get to whine when someone else climbs them higher.

L-girl said...

I love these comments - all.

And thank you Babe!

andy said...

Jeter and Aroid rub balco lotion on each other's...so yeah anyway Jetes does the shit too. At least he did at one point. He took something. Some supplement. These guys are all full of shit. Rice included.
Everybody gets high. I stood in line behind a couple who were purchasing a multitude of wine because as they put it, "we drink a lot of wine."
We are all chasing an enhancement to our experience. We all want to live more than the next guy. I suppose nobody has ever taken creatine either. For awhile there it looked like they were gonna add creatine to the list of ingredients in total cereal. If jeter ever took a sleeping aid he used a performance enhancer. Rice too. Cobb too. Ruth was all hopped up on something all the time. Makes it even more amazing how good he was. Maybe Ruth had to be slowed down by booze so he didn't just take all the fun out of the game by being unstoppable.
If you can throw a 95 mph late cutting slider or hit that same pitch you have a place in the MLB. This is where people like you play baseball and people like us watch while getting up on whatever our drug of choice is.

Philip Levine said...

If you cannot see (I don't know how old you are; I am 62) how much all professional team sports have changed exactly as Jim Rice has said, then you must think he's an idiot. I mainly watch baseball, football and basketball, and in those sports it's largely about getting the money, showing off, inflating your personality, who cares about the team. It's not that there aren't a LOT of Tek-types in all sports -- hard working, team-oriented, dedicated to the game -- but there are a hell of a lot more guys like Rice is talking about.

How can you not see that? Why take apart his comments in pieces the way you have? What are you defending? He clearly was aiming at Manny-types (ME first).

I am perplexed at your defensive response. Perhaps you could more directly say what about his comments really bothered you and why?

I used to love team sports, and the Patriots, Celtics and Red Sox. Now I watch because I don't want to lose the pleasure of the game itself, but it's in spite of the self-centered inflated behavior of those kinds of players, not because of them.

L-girl said...

Philip Levine, perhaps your memories of "the good old days" when players were supposedly unselfish and all about the team are coloured by nostalgia. Or perhaps your were younger then, and more willing to idealize sports heroes than you are now. Or perhaps the media didn't enlarge and expose every quirk and supposed motive as it does now.

Perhaps things have not changed as much as you think they have.

And perhaps if things have changed that much, they have changed throughout all of society, and sports is but one reflection of that.

Why take apart his comments in pieces the way you have?

That's how one analyzes and refutes. Surely you know that.

What are you defending? He clearly was aiming at Manny-types (ME first).

Perhaps you have not read this blog much, but a lot of people here love Manny, and don't find him any more or less selfish than any other players.

Rather than ask what the blogger is defending, I would ask you for evidence that "players today" are so different than players when you were younger.

L-girl said...

PS: I'm 48.

Iridescence said...

I don't think the players are any different today then they ever were and yes Rice comes off as a hypocrite because he definitely cared about the money and got all he could when he was playing (and why wouldn't he).

I do think money has changed the game itself for the worse though and made it harder for the small market teams. In the 80s it seemed like every team had a shot and any team could go on a spending spree and sign some free agents or have a star player who played with that team for their whole career. Now teams like the Pirates and Royals seem to just play out the string every year with no hope of competing. I do think baseball as a whole was "better" when I was following it as a kid in the 80s but maybe tat's at least partly nostalgia talking.

But I don't blame the millionaire players for trying to squeeze all the money they can out of the billionaire owners. Any sensible person would do that.

I do actually like it when the players show some individuality and personality. Afros and dreadlocks are awesome :)

redsock said...

... it's largely about getting the money, showing off, inflating your personality, who cares about the team

You do know that people have been saying those exact words since 1869, when baseball players first started earning money, right?

I have quotes from the 1910s where pitchers from the 1890s are complaining that these pitchers "today" do not pitch entire games like they used to and are yanked at the slightest bit of trouble. ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER, people are saying the exact same thing.

Joe DiMaggio was booed at selfish and greedy at Yankee Stadium for entire seasons in the late 30s for wanting more money. 70 YEARS LATER, people are saying the exact same thing.

And you were 32 years old in 1979 when players were ripped night and day by the media and fans for signing free agent contracts. 30 YEARS LATER, people are saying the exact same thing.

People complaining about greedy selfish "modern" players is as old a baseball tradition as spitting and scratching your nuts. You are in fine (and crowded) company.

(I'll merely note (without passing any sort of judgment on any commenter) the wish for more gritty white guys while complaining about the selfish darker-skinned players. The fact that Rice is black is irrelevant; the subtle racism can be seen and heard throughout the media and public.)


Why take apart his comments in pieces the way you have?

It's not my fault that every other word Rice said was an easily refuted lie.

It is sad that someone who gets paid to talk [sic] about baseball is apparently brain dead to its history.

Nostalgia is history gone rancid.

Amy said...

(I'll merely note (without passing any sort of judgment on any commenter) the wish for more gritty white guys while complaining about the selfish darker-skinned players.

I had not thought about this until reading the above, but it made me wonder whether that article comparing Cano (an African-American player considered lacking in "hustle") and Pedroia (a white gritty player) is also a reflection of that racism.

redsock said...

I would say it is.

A long time ago, I read a compilation of TV broadcasters descriptions of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. In a nutshell, Bird was described as having worked his ass off to succeed and get the most out of his talent and Magic was gifted and natural. I'm not doing it any justice, but it was astounding.

In the first WBC in 2006, Joe Morgan was doing the same thing, calling Cubaan players "fiery" and Japan's players "cool and calcuated". I noted it here in a blog post. (I'd dig it up but I have work!)

It is unlikely actually hard racism in most cases, but the general attitudes of the culture do seep into everyone's mind. And if you are aware of it and listen for it, you'll hear it a lot.

L-girl said...

I'll merely note (without passing any sort of judgment on any commenter) the wish for more gritty white guys while complaining about the selfish darker-skinned players.

I thought of this immediately, as soon as I saw "Tek-types" contrasted with "Manny-types". I purposely didn't mention it, but I'm glad you did.

Amy said...

And it embarrasses me that I did not even pick up on that in the Cano/Pedroia article. What is buried in us subconsciously is so hard to eradicate. Thanks for pointing this out.

redsock said...

I should note that people have long claimed that I (and others) are seeing bigoted attitudes where none exist.

redsock said...

I am perplexed at your defensive response.

I am not defensive at all.

What Rice says is wrong -- and easily proven wrong. I was merely pointing out (very quickly and not in much depth) how silly he sounds.

It would be as if an expert in teenage behaviour said: "Teenagers today are having a lot of sex. That never happened in my day (the '70s)."

Or if a historian claimed: "The US had been a force for democracy and freedom for all people in the world until Bush came along in 2001".

The complete lack of knowledge shown by both of those people makes you cringe. Same with Rice's comments.

Iridescence said...

Are positive stereotypes which may be partially on race still wrong? Like someone saying Magic was a graceful, gifted athlete, or Daisuke is a very smart, cerebral pitcher or Pedroia plays hard and is "gritty"?

The "lazy,unmotivated" stuff is often borderline racism I think but are the positive stereotypes bad?

We don't really know much about these guys and we form opinions of them based largely on how they look on the field. Race probably plays into that but I think it's only racist if you're using it to make some negative assumption about the player.

It would be nicer and smarter if everyone was totally color-blind but it seems to go against human nature.

In any case I find this a fascinating topic and discussion.

L-girl said...

Are positive stereotypes which may be partially on race still wrong? Like someone saying Magic was a graceful, gifted athlete, or Daisuke is a very smart, cerebral pitcher or Pedroia plays hard and is "gritty"?

Yes, of course.

This is still judging a person according to attributes ascribed to a large group, not as an individual.

The characterization is already formed, then the person is slotted into it because of his culture or appearance, when in reality he may or may not conform to that description at all.

It's pre-judging. That's what prejudice is.

L-girl said...

A long time ago, I read a compilation of TV broadcasters descriptions of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. In a nutshell, Bird was described as having worked his ass off to succeed and get the most out of his talent and Magic was gifted and natural. I'm not doing it any justice, but it was astounding.

A long time ago, I brought this up on this blog and was totally slammed (by someone no longer here). I'm glad to see it again.

It would be nicer and smarter if everyone was totally color-blind but it seems to go against human nature.

Whether or not that is true, it's a cop-out. Once we're aware of racist and other stereotypes, we can seek to avoid them, not just say oh well, we can't help it.

I'm totally not saying you personally are using a cop-out. I'm saying that we all shouldn't use "human nature" as an excuse for bad behaviour. After all, human nature seems to include murder, rape, war - all kinds of evils - as well as the capacity to for rational thought.

redsock said...

Within the last two weeks, we heard someone during a game refer to a black player as "gritty". We both looked at each other. Did we just hear that? It definitely sounded out of place!

redsock said...

JoS, March 21, 2006:

Joe Morgan blabbed his usual blather for nine innings, but it was his "descriptions" of the two teams' playing styles that was the high point of the night for me. Morgan said the Cuban players were "fiery" and "emotional" while the Japanese were "calculating" and "scientific".

Thanks for that "insight", Joe. I'm surprised Morgan didn't call Team Japan "inscrutable" -- though maybe he had already used that adjective for China. (The good people at FJM are way ahead of me.)

And I swear I heard Morgan refer to Japan's manager as "Sodomharu Oh".

********

L-girl said...

Before this thread got onto the racism/stereotype theme...

I found it very interesting and encouraging that so many readers of JoS saw Rice's comments for what they are, and responded from different angles.

Then someone comes along and in all seriousness says players today are greedy and selfish, in earlier times they were better, etc.

It makes me wonder if that very commenter - just using him as an example - felt the same way when Rice was playing. After all, the guy says he's 62. Presumably he was watching sports before Rice's era.

I wonder if he himself thought the players from the late 70s were crazy, greedy, selfish, unkempt, at that time, and only now remembers them with the golden glow of nostalgia.

I remember my grandfather carping like that in the 1970s, and I was pretty sure he had been saying it for decades.

Iridescence said...

"The characterization is already formed, then the person is slotted into it because of his culture or appearance,"

With most people it's probably not a deliberate and planned thing. They just notice and comment on things that fit whatever their stereotypical view is more than expecting the player to be something they are not or seeing things which aren't there.

You make a good point, it's still not really fair to the players even if intended as a compliment and done in a positive way. Ideally, they should be viewed as individuals and not stereotypes. It is hard for people to isolate and "stop" doing something which is often done on a very subconscious level though.

There is also a big difference between a fan subconsciously doing this and a media person, like Morgan, deliberately playing to those stereotypes in his broadcasts. I think the latter is worse.

L-girl said...

Your question surprised me because I don't see any ethnic stereotypes as positive. I think assuming a Native American person is (eg) spiritual or "in touch with nature" or an Asian person is intellectual and good at math is just as offensive as assuming a Latino is lazy.

Same goes for gender stereotyping, or stereotyping based on sexual orientation. I sometimes hear women claim that gay men are so sensitive and nurturing, I just want to puke.

L-girl said...

It is hard for people to isolate and "stop" doing something which is often done on a very subconscious level though.

That's why the first step to combatting bigotry is conscious-raising.

We have to first acknowledge that the behaviour is there, then became aware of it enough to change.

I guess there's an even earlier step: we have to want to. We have to believe it's worth doing, and lots of people don't.

Amy said...

The funny thing about Jim Rice making this comment is that my recollection (admittedly not necessarily reliable) is that he was considered a bit of prima donna himself back then. He was not media-friendly, I guess.

On Iridescence's comment, sometimes positive stereotypes can be just as damaging as negative ones. The "successful minority" stereotype often applied to Asian students can be as limiting and hurtful as any other. As Laura said, it is still pre-judging based on an external characteristic.

Philip Levine said...

L-girl, yes I have never posted here before. Or read comments before. You say, "Rather than ask what the blogger is defending, I would ask you for evidence that 'players today' are so different than players when you were younger."

So you didn't like my question and instead don't answer it (it wasn't directed at you anyway) but try to make it about me providing evidence. Anyone old enough to have lived through the mid-20th century can see how obnoxious and self-centered so many players in all sports have become. Those of us old enough know we RARELY saw such behavior in ANY sport until maybe the 70's or 80's, and it's just gotten worse.

And yes, I most definitely see this as behavior rampant throughout all of our society: make a lot of noise to call attention to yourself, even though what you do is often of little quality and not worthy of praise. That's what comes from making sports in early life a means just to boost individual's egos.

And I am sorry to call Manny a selfish player if lots of people here still love him. We all need to believe in something, even if it is a fraud who shows no respect for his fans.

L-girl said...

So you didn't like my question and instead don't answer it (it wasn't directed at you anyway) but try to make it about me providing evidence.

First of all, comments at this blog are an open discussion, for all to answer and comment further upon.

Second, you say that "anyone can see" and especially that anyone "old enough" can see that players today are more selfish, etc etc than players back in some other, undefined times.

If that is true, there ought to be some evidence of it. I don't mean numbers and statistics. I mean the unselfish things that players used to do that they no longer do, or the selfish things that they do now that are new to this era. Anything. Something.

The statement "Manny is a selfish lout," or the like, does not constitute evidence, by the way. Because we can find individual players from every era that exhibit the same characteristics that you see as selfishness. (Unless there's more to your statement than you realize or admit, and what's different about Manny didn't exist in MLB pre-1957...)

It's not sufficient to say "anyone can see" - not on this blog, anyway - because everyone does not see the world the same way you do.

However, if the world as you see it truly exists, not only in your mind but in reality, than you should be able to point to some evidence of that world.

ML baseball players are people. Some are selfish. Some are team-oriented. Most, I suspect, are a combination of both, like most people.

Those of us old enough know we RARELY saw such behavior in ANY sport until maybe the 70's or 80's, and it's just gotten worse.

Now you have selfish/obnoxious lengthened the time line to include the 70s and 80s, so that's progress.

Remember, this discussion began with comments made by Jim Rice, a player from the 70s and 80s, who was well known to be obnoxious and who some considered greedy.

Now all you have left to do is read about things the obnoxious, selfish, greedy behaviour of players when even you were too young to realize it - and when the media was shielding players' personal lives from public view - and you'll understand what I and many others here are talking about.

This has nothing to do with Manny and our individual opinions of him.

It has to do with people making sweeping statements that have no basis in fact - then when they're asked for facts, claim it's the other person's problem for asking for something as silly as "evidence".

L-girl said...

Oops, typo, that should have read "1947". But '57 works, too, as MLB was far from integrated just because they let Jackie Robinson play.

redsock said...

(it wasn't directed at you anyway)

If you did not want any reader of this blog to comment on your opinion, you should have emailed your thoughts to me.

Anyone old enough to have lived through the mid-20th century can see how obnoxious and self-centered so many players in all sports have become.

The only self-centeredness is coming from you, as you believe that your perception of the world is reality.

Please note Blog Rule #3: "I like facts and I encourage you to use them." An earlier version of this rules said something like, do not be insulted when someone asks you to back up your claim with actual evidence, we simply like facts here.

So I join L is stating:

... there ought to be some evidence of the unselfish things that players used to do that they no longer do, or the selfish things that they do now that are new to this era. Anything. Something.

***

We all need to believe in something, even if it is a fraud who shows no respect for his fans.

1. Why do we need athletes to show us respect?

2. It's clear you haven't read much about Jim Rice's personality.

... he was considered a bit of prima donna himself back then. He was not media-friendly, I guess.

Amy understates the issue. Rice was an absolute prick.

Have you read Howard Bryant's excellent book "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston"?

There is (naturally) a lot of stuff on Rice. From page 159:

"... who one reporter would mercilessly call a 'complete asshole.' Rice -- in breaking the ironclad code of solidarity between blacks in the game -- was considered 'the wrong kind of brother' who 'never cared about anything or anybody but himself.' He would be the Jim Rice above casual courtesy or concern, distant and beyond reach."

Recently, a SoSH poster asked about Rice and autographs, since he was going to be at the Little League World Series: "The former Williamsport PD Chief advised me where to go mill about before the parade to get Rice's autograph. Will Jim Rice sign a copy of the Sunday Boston Globe sports section commenoratring his HOF induction? Or does he not give autographs?"

Some responses:

Yaz4Ever: "In my experiences with Jim Rice, I've found him to be a completely arrogant dickhead. I haven't seen him in 20 years, so maybe he's mellowed with age, but the half dozen times or so I've been in his company he was the biggest jerk in the room. I know others here have had better experiences, so I wish you luck. I've literally seen him shun little kids when they were alone (not like he'd be stuck signing for an hour if he granted the kid one autograph) on a couple of occasions."

HomeBrew1901: "Back in the 90's his wife was one of my mother's patients at the hospital (my mother is a nurse). A couple people that were there visiting family (maybe some staff too) asked for an autograph and he said he would only do it for 5 or 10 bucks each. I could understand not wanting to sign at all, his wife is in the hospital, but to offer to do it for a fee was kind of surprising. My mother also said he was an arrogant jerk at the time."

There were some good recolletions from that thread also -- showing, as L stated and as "everyone can see", human beings are often a mix of good and bad.

By the way, the autograph seeker was successful: "Got the autograph. pedro1918 was right with the no words spoken, no eye contact either. Sign and move along."

And passing judgment on someone based only on what you see on TV during a baseball game or what an often-biased sportswriter decides to tell you is totally bizarre.

Amy said...

Good to see my recollections of Rice were accurate. I did not want to be overly negative as I was not sure my memory was accurate.

Also, it seems to me that players from earlier eras had some fairly obnoxious personal traits that just were hush-hushed by the teams and the media. Mickey Mantle, for example, perhaps one of the most beloved players of his era, was a hard-drinking womanizer: no more of a role model than any current player and less of a role model than most.

L-girl said...

And passing judgment on someone based only on what you see on TV during a baseball game or what an often-biased sportswriter decides to tell you is totally bizarre.

It's not bizarre, however, when those limited glimpses confirm your immutable worldview. Then it's merely close-minded.

L-girl said...

We all need to believe in something, even if it is a fraud who shows no respect for his fans.

1. Why do we need athletes to show us respect?


Too bad we can't ask Ted Williams. Now there was a player with respect for the fans! /sarcasm

L-girl said...

Mickey Mantle, for example, perhaps one of the most beloved players of his era, was a hard-drinking womanizer: no more of a role model than any current player and less of a role model than most.

I was going to use Mickey Mantle as an example, then decided not to get specific. So I'm very glad you brought that up!

Mantle also brings up the media's role in shaping fans' images of players. It's well known how the media portrayed Mantle vs Maris, annointing one and disparaging the other.

An earlier forerunner of "MUMS".