Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Griffey Problem

Life, as it is, is far from a fairy tale. A fairy tale ending to Ken Griffey Jr.'s career would've been riding off into the sunset on his teammates shoulders at the end of the 2009 season.  Much like Karl Malone, Joe Namath, Willie Mays, Shaq and Johnny Unitas, Griffey chose to hang on for one more season. 2009 was perfect for him, his role was defined and he performed it perfectly. His timely hitting and occasional power combined with his locker room leadership overshadowed his declining skills.

2010 rolls around, Junior is a year older, his bat is a year slower and the departure of Russell Branyan and mental departure of Milton Departure has left Junior as the only option for power. Poor planning on managements part? Yes. But the real problem is Griffey's reluctance to hang it up. If a player is truly, solely interested in helping his team, he should see that his complete inability to be an asset to the team is hurting the team and should therefore leave.

To briefly grace over the Griffey dugout sleeping story...if this is true, then it isn't surprising. Griffey has always been lazy. He has always taken conditioning lightly, never ran out balls to first base, and relied completely on his natural ability, which, was utterly limitless.  The bad habits finally caught up to him in Cincinnati, and his laziness has resulted in a not so graceful final years in the big leagues.  Last year, his laziness was charming, it was part of his character, the resident overweight goofball that could still drive the ball 400 feet. This year, with his average plunging fast past the Mendoza line, its disheartening.

What I cannot understand is the general public's defense of Griffey. He was a great player yes, but his work ethic had nothing to do with it. If there ever was a pure natural in baseball, it was Griffey.  Griffey the player is finished. It is clear that Griffey is only on the roster for the promotional aspect. They aren't going to cut a player early on who has a series of promotional nights set up in his honor.  Seattle fans are sentimentalists, often remembering only the good of a players past actions. This is far worse than thinking Dave Krieg was a great quarterback instead of what he really was, the Scott Mitchell of his generation, Griffey was great at two things, playing baseball and being lazy. Its time everyone sees the whole picture we all seemed to see when he left two years ago.

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