WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Red Sox Hall of Famer Jim Rice today criticized the approach current major leaguers have to baseball, telling youngsters at the Little League World Series that players such as Manny Ramirez set a "bad example."
"You have these baggy uniforms, you have the dreadlocks, that's not part of the game," Rice said after mentioning Ramirez, who played for the Red Sox for nearly eight seasons.
In the same breath, Rice mentioned New York Yankees Alex Rodriquez and Derek Jeter as he described a baseball culture dominated by huge contracts and the accoutrements of wealth, with players more interested in Rolex watches than the game.
"What you see right now is more individuals, it's not a team," said Rice, a newly minted hall of famer who played for the Red Sox for 15 years. "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."
Rice made the pointed comments during a pre-game talk to all 16 teams that were about to start play in the annual Little League World Series, including a squad from Massachusetts, the Peabody Western All-Stars. Beyond the criticism of current players, his talk included practical advice.
"Work on the weakest part of your game," Rice said. "Johnny Pesky hit me ground balls every day."
Rice also urged the youngsters to look beyond athletics.
"You are a child of someone, you are not a professional baseball player now," Rice said. "You may be one day, but the first thing you need to have right now is respect."
When Rice spoke with the players and coaches from Peabody, he could not help but poke fun at the New England pronunciation of their hometown, "Pea-Buddy."
"I do know of a place called Pea-Body," Rice said. "I used to live there."
The first game began today at 1 p.m. Peabody was scheduled to take the field at 8 p.m.
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