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Maddon, Bautista react to Gossage tirade against baseball

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Hall of Famer Rich Gossage is introduced during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Cubs manager Joe Maddon rushed to the defense of his front office that seemed to be one of the targets of Hall of Famer Goose Gossage’s recent tirade against the current state of baseball.

“Our front office is spectacular regarding being able to balance the old and the new,” Maddon said Friday. “I love nerds. And I wish I had some nerdism in me. These guys went to school, went to class, wrote their own papers.”

Gossage issued a scathing commentary on the current state of baseball, complaining about the new sliding rules and taking shots at Ivy League-educated executives — such as the Cubs’ Theo Epstein and the White Sox’ Rick Hahn — during an ESPN interview Thursday.

“The game is becoming a freaking joke because of the nerds who are running it,” Gossage, 64, told ESPN. “I’ll tell you what has happened, these guys played rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever the f— they went and they thought they figured the f—ing game out. They don’t know s—.”

Epstein attended Yale and Hahn attended Harvard Law School, and they are among the overwhelming wave of Ivy Leaguers running baseball teams.

“A bunch of f—ing nerds running the game,” Gossage continued. “You can’t slide into second base. You can’t take out the f—ing catcher because [Buster] Posey was in the wrong position and they are going to change all the rules. You can’t pitch inside anymore. I’d like to knock some of these f—ers on their ass and see how they would do against pitchers in the old days.”

Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista, another Gossage target, was stunned by the remarks but refuses to get into a war of words.

“I just found them to be unnecessary,” Bautista told reporters asking for reaction to Gossage’s comments. “I have tried to analyze it, in every way that my creativity allows me to, and I find no scenario where he would have something positive to gain from it … but he must have his reasons. … [One thing I’ve] learned is to leave by the wayside unnecessary comments and things that make no sense, therefore it is easy for me not to engage in any conflict in this case.”

Gossage, who pitched for the Cubs and White Sox during a major-league career that spanned from 1972-1994, also took today’s stars to task.

“Ryan Braun is a f—ing steroid user,” Gossage said. “He gets a standing ovation on Opening Day in Milwaukee. How do you explain that to your kid after throwing people under the bus and lying through his f—ing teeth? They don’t have anyone passing the f—ing torch to these people.”

“Bautista is a f—ing disgrace to the game,” Gossage said. “He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing.”

Meanwhile, National League MVP Bryce Harper took aim at baseball’s “unwritten rules,” age-old decrees that the Washington Nationals outfielder has often been accused of violating.

“Baseball’s tired,” Harper told ESPN The Magazine. “It’s a tired sport because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair.”

Harper, 23, has never shied away from criticizing the unwritten rules, including last season when teammate Jonathan Papelbon drilled Baltimore’s Manny Machado after Machado apparently took a little too long t0 get around the bases on a home run he hit in a previous at bat.

Harper advocates violating the code because, well, baseball needs it.

“If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time,’” Harper told the magazine. “That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players – Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton – I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”

Sun-Times staff and wires