Baseball: Why Do Old Timers Hate On Current Players?

When newly-inducted Hall of Famer Jim Rice stated last week at the Little League World Series that today’s players aren’t role models, he created front page news.

Said Rice, “”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.”

Rice later claimed that he was misquoted, but the truth is that many former players don’t relate to today’s players. Why is that?

If you polled players who played in earlier decades (1950’s – 1970’s) and asked them what they think of today’s players, I know many of them would respond…

  1. Players don’t play hard
  2. Players don’t respect the game
  3. Players make too much money
  4. Players are ruining the game by using performance-enhancing drugs

Let’s take a look at each response…

1. Players Don’t Play Hard

There’s no denying that today’s players are in much better shape than they were in the past. The equipment and technology available to them  today is light years better than what it used to be. As a result, today’s players have a big advantage. I don’t necessarily believe they don’t work or play as hard – I just think the advantages they have today make it look easier. The one argument I can understand is when former pitchers talk about today’s pitchers. Do you think Bob Gibson respects today’s pitchers? In 1968, Gibson threw 28 complete games. Roy Halladay led the majors last year with 9 complete games.

2. Players Don’t Respect The History Of The Game

I believe there is some truth to this. One of the things that makes baseball so special is its ties to the past. However, I bet that if you quizzed current players about baseball history, many of them would fail. This point was brought home recently when Ryan Howard surpassed Ralph Kiner as the fastest player to hit 200 home runs. When asked about Kiner, Howard responded “Uh, he’s the guy whose record I broke. Not to be disrespectful or anything, but he was before my time.”

3. Players Make Too Much Money

It’s true that today’s players make more in a day than many old timers made in a season. Case in point…the highest paid player in 1972 was Hank Aaron with a salary of $200,000. The highest paid player in 2007 was Alex Rodriguez at $26 million.

4. The Use Of Performance-enhancing Drugs Is Ruining The Game

I do believe that baseball’s reputation has taken a hit with the steroid scandal. This era will always be known as the “Steroid Era”. If you look at the players who joined the 500 Home Run Club this decade – Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield– all but Griffey Jr., Thome, Thomas and Sheffield have been accused of taking performance enhancing drugs. Could you blame members of the 500 Club like Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson and Ernie Banks if they feel a bit of resentment? The Club used to be the most exclusive club in baseball. Not anymore.

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