August 21, 2009
Noted sourpuss Jim Rice was on such good behavior during his Hall of Fame induction tour these past few months that you wondered how long it'd take for the Red Sock legend to revert to the cranky personality that was said to be part of the reason he was kept out from Cooperstown for so long.
Our answer came on Friday afternoon, which is when Rice broke out his old-man robe, his pipe and his favorite pair of slippers and told a group of kids at the opening of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., just how much better baseball used to be when he was playing in Boston.
Here are some of Rice's codgerish comments, delivered to a head-in-hands group that AP reported to be yawning by the time he droned past the 15-minute mark:
"You have these baggy uniforms, you have the dreadlocks, that's not part of the game. It was a clean game, and now they're 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."
And back in his day, tickets to Fenway cost only 28 cents! And a hot dog was a nickel!
LoHud's Pete Abe is pretty worked up over Rice's comments and asks if it's "too late to vote Jim Rice out of the Hall of Fame for being a no-class idiot." I can't say that I feel anywhere that strongly, mostly because Rice touches upon some complaints that many of us have. We're not exactly living in baseball's healthiest era.
Then again, Rice putting Jeter on blast makes me lean toward Pete a little bit more because the Captain has all the virtues — including four championships, a healthy respect for his fellow players and a surplus of humility — that Rice supposedly misses so much.
Yeah, I suppose that Jeter did sign a $189 million contract way back when, but he's only played for one team and for Rice to lump him in with the sports' two biggest controversies and not include him in his list of upcoming Hall of Famers — he named Ichiro(notes), Ken Griffey and Jim Thome(notes) — is just wrong.
In fact, I think Rice owes Jeter an apology the next time he's at a Red Sox-Yankees game.
At any rate, let's give a warm welcome back to Jim Rice's cranky side. Not that we missed it, of course ... but the universe once again seems to have returned to its balance.