If there’s one thing I hate about the Little League World Series … well, there are a lot of things. But if there’s one thing I love about it, it’s when old Major Leaguers show up and tell the youngsters grouchy yarns about how things were better in the old days. Kids love that! You go, Jim Rice.
Rice was a featured speaker on opening day of the Little League World Series today, and instead of the generic gladhanding that one would expect from someone who was recruited by the staid, conservative Little League organization, Rice proceeded to tell the kids what’s wrong with the game today.
And that meant plowing into players like Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, and telling the Little Leaguers why he thinks they are not good role models. ESPN has the scoop because, well, they’ve got the monopoly on Little League TV coverage.
Speaking to players before the start of the Little League World Series, the new baseball Hall of Famer said today’s major leaguers are too focused on individual goals and getting big contracts.
“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 said to Little Leaguers gathered in the cafeteria.
The former Red Sox outfielder played 16 seasons in Boston, batting .298 with 382 homers before retiring in 1989.
“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.”
Just, wow. If Rice is referring to steroids, I can get into that; although I don’t know what Jeter would have to do with that discussion. But players wearing baggy uniforms equaling the game not being clean? I guess Rice has never seen a baseball photograph prior to 1966.
But when all is said and done, I quite prefer the post-Hall of Fame Jim Rice to the pre-HOF one. Where the pre-HOF Rice was actually kind of dangerous, the current Rice just mainly yells at kids to stay off his lawn, with occasional trips to NYC to do Letterman’s Top Ten list.