Rob Neyer already raked Jim Rice over the coals for this, but I don’t think adding a few comments of my own would be piling on. As reported by the Associated Press, Jim Rice, as part of a promotion for Allstate Insurance Co. (Full Disclosure Alert: they currently insure my car), recently spoke to a group of Little Leaguers in Williamsport, Pa. Here are some excerpts from the story:
“You see a Manny Ramirez, you see an A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), you see (Derek) Jeter … Guys that I played against and with, these guys you’re talking about cannot compare,” Rice said to Little Leaguers gathered in the cafeteria.
Stay classy, Jim. Somehow you got into the Hall of Fame and, just a few weeks later, you feel the need to crap all over today’s stars. What an ambassador for the game.
What’s also funny, Jim, is that you can compare the players from your era with those from the modern era. There are statistics for that. I won’t discuss Manny Ramirez or A-Rod because of the steroid issue (and it’s clear that Rice has adopted a holier-than-thou attitude on that subject), so let’s focus on Derek Jeter. I’d love to hear from Rice regarding which shortstops from his era were better hitters than Jeter. I don’t think Rice played with Arky Vaughan or Honus Wagner, so he probably won’t be able to come up with any.
“We didn’t have the baggy uniforms. We didn’t have the dreadlocks,” Rice said. “It was a clean game, and now they’re setting a bad example for the young guys.”
Asked later at a news conference to list current players worthy of the Hall, Rice suggested Seattle Mariner outfielders Ichiro Suzuki and Ken Griffey, Jr., and Chicago White Sox slugger Jim Thome.
Really? That’s the best list that he could come up with? I agree that all three belong in the Hall of Fame, but aren’t there a few really obvious candidates out there? Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Albert Pujols, Ivan Rodriguez, to name a few.
He said he believes current Hall of Famers who did not cheat don’t want players who took performance-enhancing drugs to join them in the Hall.
Flexing the muscles in his right arm, Rice said, “That’s all the steroids you need. … It’s called God-given talent.”
What a piece of work. I guess Rice is feeling a little cocky due to his recent HOF election, which is still a mystery to me. I know that there is a lot of disagreement on this, but, in my opinion, Rice is not a HOF caliber player. He was a very good player, but not worthy of Cooperstown. Things are going to get awkward over the next few years when the baseball writers realize they elected Rice, but don’t want to elect Fred McGriff or Moises Alou. I guess McGriff and Alou weren’t as “feared” as Rice.
The last sentence of the article sheds some light on the interest level in Rice’s perspective. It reads like a little bit of an eff you from the AP writer:
He got a standing ovation from players and coaches, though some of the 11- to 13-year-old players were yawning or had their heads in their arms on the table about 15 minutes into the talk.
Sounds like your speech was a real showstopper, Jim. If it were Manny, A-Rod, or Jeter doing the talking, I doubt any of the Little Leaguers would have been daydreaming.