Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Return of Junior

This is a sports related post, so if not interested, then move along. Nothing for you to see here!

If you haven't heard, the Seattle Mariners are just signed a new player. His name is, if you haven't heard, Ken Griffey, Jr. Yes, the Prodigal Son returns to Seattle.

See, about 20 years ago, Griffey, or as he affectionately known around these parts, Junior, broke into Major League Baseball with the Mariners when he was 19 years old. he was an exceptional talent. The game only saw a handful of players of his talent throughout its long history.

Griffey remained a Mariner for 10 years, until he demanded a trade to a different team so that he can get close to his family that lives in Florida. The management of the M's at that time were able to work out a trade to Cincinnati in exchange for a couple of good players, so it kind of worked out.

Griffey's time with the Reds was spent on the Disabled List, pretty much. He was hurt so much and so often, that him being in the lineup was the surprising thing. Call it a curse, of just bad luck, that's what happened to him.

In the last year of his 10-year contract with the Reds, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox and played the last couple of months with them and was on their playoff roster and played a few games in the playoffs, but nothing spectacular, really.

He said that he had knee problems and during the off-season he had a procedure to clean out his knees, which he claims was a success and he's feeling much better now.

Then the drama started happening. A few weeks ago it was rumored that he might sign with the M's again, so that he can finish his career where it started, and where the fans still love him. There was a lot of back and forth negotiations, it seems, and just when it was very clear that he was going to sign with the M's, what does he do?

According to the Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones, Griffey called him and asked about him coming to the Braves. Naturally Jones was happy and told his management who started a dialogue with Griffey and his agent. Why he did that, nobody knows. Maybe he wanted to start a bidding war between the M's and the Braves. Maybe he really thought about coming back to Seattle and remembered that he would be too far away from his family, again. I don't know. Only he knows.

According to Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, two baseball legends, they talked to Griffey and told him to think about his legacy and what it would mean for him to sign with the Braves, and basically end his career in a whimper, rather than a splash in Seattle (where he still has a helluva lot of credit with the Seattle fans and media).

So, he changed his mind again, and ended up signing with Seattle.

How do I feel? Meh. It's cool that he's back, I guess. But not if it means taking away playing time from some of the youngsters that need that playing time to give them a fair chance at seeing if they do have a future with the major league team or not, so that they can continue with their development.

If Griffey accepts a lesser role of being the Designated Hitter against right-handed pitching, which means him playing 4 of 5 days a week, and no playing in the field for him (because all he would is a defensive liability) then I'm all for Griffey's return. If he's an everyday player who's hitting .190 with 2-3 homeruns by the end of May, this will not end good. For either party.

I did smile though, when I saw his infectious smile under a Mariners cap! What a softie, huh?

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