If there was any doubt that Reggie Jackson is still every bit the mouthy horse’s ass in retirement that he was over his entire baseball career, it has been incontrovertibly dispelled. He was a self-absorbed jerk then, and he’s a self-important moron now.
In the July 9-16 issue of Sports Illustrated, for its “Where Are They Now?” issue, Jackson held forth to writer Phil Taylor in the characteristically obnoxious fashion one might reasonably expect a man with any perspective on life to have outgrown by now. You’d think by now Jackson would’ve managed to take a pair of pliers and finally extricate his head from his southerly orifice.
No such luck.
Here’s a quote from the article: ”Misconception number one,” he says. ”The public always thought, ‘Reggie has a massive ego, he’s narcissistic, he’s cocky, he needs everyone to look at him all the time,’ because that’s what the media told them. Wrong. I could handle the attention. I didn’t let the attention affect my performance. But I never needed the attention.”
Okay, not only is he still The Great I Am, Jackson’s also so dimwitted he thinks he can just wish away the truth. Starting with the fact that there has never been an athlete in the history of professional sports as pathetically infatuated with himself. And if you are thinking Muhammad Ali, go sit in a corner and repeat until your tongue goes numb, Ali actually was the greatest.
“[He’s] narcissistic, he’s cocky… But I never needed the attention.” Horse manure. When Reggie Jackson joined the New York Yankees after the 1976 season, he walked in the door with his foot in his mouth. Up to the kneecap.
He told, if I’m not mistaken, the same publication, Sports Illustrated, back then, “I didn’t come to New York to be a star. I brought my star with me.” And, there was the comment that immediately endeared him to fellow Yankees and fans alike, especially those who appreciated the job all-star catcher and team captain Thurman Munson had been putting in long before Jackson and his, yes, massive ego blew into town.
“Maybe I should say Munson and me, but he really doesn’t enter into it. Munson thinks he can be the straw that stirs the drink but he can only stir it bad.” Misconception, huh? Yeah, right.
He also has the gall to tell Taylor which players should not be in the Hall of Fame. Starting with Kirby Puckett: “I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer,” he said. “I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer.”
This coming from guy with a career batting average of .262, a self-centered player who so put himself before the team that, as one season drew to a close, he was hitting .300 for the first time in his life and refused to go to the plate for his final at-bat in case he didn’t get on base and his average dropped.
Don Sutton and Phil Niekro, two pitchers who, their entire careers, gave batters nightmares year in and year out don’t belong in the Hall? While this blowhard who sank into obscurity the very next season after the Yankees didn’t even try to re-sign him?
This clown is qualified to sit on his haunches and make grand pronouncements about players with more class in the seat of their funky, sweat-soaked uniforms than he had from head to toe in all his Rolls Royces and fur coats?
And where the hell does he get off even mentioning the name of Kirby Puckett, who busted his behind hustling for the Twins while — who remembers this, sports fans? — Billy Martin had to yank Jackson off the field in the middle of the game for loafing on a line drive single that his lazy, out-to-lunch, nonchalanting turned into a double?
It would’ve been possible to just forget Reggie Jackson was still around. Hell, it would’ve been easy. It certainly would’ve been possible to give him the benefit and maybe assume the guy mellowed over the years, maybe even matured.
Or not. You could’ve just as easily figured, yeah, he’s probably still the same idiot he always was.
He shouldn’t’ve have done that Sports Illustrated interview. As the saying goes, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.