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What They're Saying About Ken Griffey's retirement

Jun 3, 2010, 10:02 AM EDT

Griffey hat on backwards.jpgI like eulogies — for careers and lives — that are a little on the brutally yet respectfully honest side. Outside of Rob Neyer — who always delivers at times like these — I’m not guessing we’ll get a ton of that when it comes to the Kid, but I can live with it.  Here’s what people are saying thus far:

  • Rob Neyer: “He was a great player. No question about that. But for many years, he
    wasn’t quite the player people thought he was, or was supposed
    to be. In retrospect, did Griffey really deserve his spot on the
    All-Century Team? Did he really deserve to win 10 Gold Glove Awards? Did
    he really save baseball in Seattle? Tomorrow, it will be said
    that Griffey was the best player of his era who didn’t use steroids. Was
    he really, though? . . . Maybe he wasn’t as good as he could have been. But he was better than
    almost everyone else.”
  • Lookout Landing: “Ken Griffey Junior is why I am a baseball fan. As kids growing up, we
    all have potential. They tell us we are the future. Those of us who were
    baseball fans in Seattle in the late 80s and early 90s were also
    watching the future unfold before us on the diamond . . . He was out there playing the game and having fun,
    doing things adults never thought possible, perhaps just because he
    didn’t know it was impossible in the first place.
  • U.S.S. Mariner: Did he stick around too long? Yes, of course. But the slide may keep
    some fans from remembering just how amazing Griffey was in the mid-90s . . . he made baseball here an absolute joy to watch for many years, and
    that’s enough for me.
  • Larry Stone, Seattle Times: “[W]e will all remember a player who at his best provided a combination of
    youthful exuberance and epic skill that made him a bonafide legend.”
  • OMG Reds: “It will probably take a while to sink in, but I’m sure a lot of us feel
    that a piece of our childhood is now gone.”

I presume that more big name mainstream columnists will come online later to weigh in. The stuff I hope they stay away from, but which I doubt they will, is the dead-certain view that Ken Griffey Jr. “played clean” or whatever. I hate that narrative.

Why? Partially because we have no way of knowing if it was true. But mostly because it makes him out to be some sort of special case.  Griffey was one of the best players ever. Not just one of the best “clean” players ever.  Let’s just celebrate him for what he was and is, not as some tool of triangulation steroid politics.

  1. Moses Green - Jun 3, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    Has The Onion made anyone else retire? They definitely did him in.

  2. YankeesfanLen - Jun 3, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    ……And you thought Don McLean’s version was long, or a classic, or simple minded, or….something.
    Captcha: retched by-sportwriters re-writing songs that we wonder why we liked in the first place

  3. lardin - Jun 3, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    I remember Junior with the Batting helmet on backwards taking BP right handed, always laughing, always smiling always having fun. He reminded the fans that Baseball was, is and always will be a game first and that having fun is important…..

  4. Boomer - Jun 3, 2010 at 10:33 AM

    That “American Pie” rewrite made me throw up in my mouth a little.
    ReCaptcha: But smeared

  5. Al - Jun 3, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    More than anything, I think this just means that I’m officially old.

  6. I Love Baseball - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    Sorry to denigrate the memory of Griffey but his self engineered exit from Seattle was extraordinarily selfish.
    While it’s true he didn’t leave in pursuit of money, he placed Seattle in a position such that essentially Griffey had to be given away for nothing. I’m still shocked Seattle fans don’t bring this up. You can bet if the same thing happened in Philadelphia the fans there would not be so forgiving.

  7. Mike Dark - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    For the first time since August 25, 1973, there is no Ken Griffey in baseball. 37 years! Where the heck is Trey?

  8. Moses Green - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Nice to see you’re reading as carefully as ever. The song parody was penned by a young Seattle fan, meant as a tribute, and reprinted with permission by Geoff Baker.
    Go troll somewhere else for God’s sake.

  9. DJ Switzerland - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    Actually Griffey was thinking about retiring for a while now,
    he just took some time to ‘sleep on it’.

  10. Moses Green - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Early frontrunner for comment of the month.

  11. JBerardi - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Mike Cameron became a better player than Griffy almost immediately after that trade? That article you link to is actually pretty funny in retrospect:

    “For Junior Griffey, the man most likely to break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, the game’s most perfect all-around player in the prime of his career, the Reds gave Seattle … bits and pieces, drips and drabs of major leaguers and wanna-bes. “

    Uhh, yeah. So much for that whole “in the prime of his career” thing. Cameron has been a better player than Griffy for ten years now.

  12. Xao - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Not to pile on ya, but the Mariners did all right in the Griffey swap. Mike Cameron was more valuable to the M’s than Griffey was to the Reds. This is heavily impacted by Griffey’s injuries of course, but those were hardly unexpected given his history, playing style, and conditioning habits.
    Mariner fans don’t give Griffey a free pass for the way he handled the situation either. He’s received more fondly than Rodrigues because of the impact Griffey had on the ’95 season amidst threats to move the Mariners and the perception that he left for less mercenary reasons. As a young Griffey fan, I was upset when he left, but it never tarnished the memories I have of how Griffey ignited the Seattle baseball scene after years of rooting for a team where Alvin Davis was our mainstay.
    Phillie fans might not take that into account, but that wouldn’t make them right.

  13. Moses Green - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    also @Xao. Good job pointing out that the Mariners did pretty well in the trade. I love Baseball’s point about Jr. stands, he had sort of an ugly initial exit from Seattle. In that context though, Seattle’s ability to make such a good deal reflects well on Gillick.

  14. Michael - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    I find it kind of disgusting that the media seems to be downplaying Griffey’s role in bringing baseball back from a debilitating strike, keeping his club from moving (lest we forget, MLB ITSELF wanted to send the M’s to Tampa), and his becoming the closest thing to a wholesome cultural phenomenon MLB had produced since Joe DiMaggio.
    The injuries and resulting underachievement in the ’00s probably created the filter through which they’re looking at the previous achievements (and granted, Griffey was a non-bodybuilding anachronism in a sea of weight rooms and personal trainers, but I thought that stuff was what sportswriters hated in the first place) but there’s no denying his meaning to MLB in the ’90s.

  15. Anthony - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    Thanks for pointing out how Griffey also contributed to bringing baseball back from the strike for the country not only Seattle. As I recall, the Mariners were on a roll, getting into their stride with a team packed with future HOF’s before the strike, not sure but were’nt they on a winning streak when the strike hit?
    Not to downplay 9/11, an extreme tragedy, but the 2001 Mariners were also on their way, but the focus shifted to a national/MLB support of the New York Yankees because of the tragedy, that seemed to take the wind out of that historic Mariners team. These two events outside of the Mariner’s control stopped two chances that the Mariners had of putting Griffey into the World Series, the only thing missing from this Imortal’s achievements.

  16. RichardInDallas - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    I texted my son this morning to remind him that the M’s were coming to town soon, and would he like to go to a game or two of the series to get a glimpse of one of the true greats one last time, since it seemed pretty certain that Junior Griffey wouldn’t be back after this year. He said, not surprisingly, “HELL yeah!”. So, when I get a chance later that day, I go to MLB.COM to get a couple in the bleachers. What a thrill it would be to catch 631 or 632, and possibly his last, to go along with a BP HR ball that Jr. hit and my then 10 year old son caught when with the RedLegs back in 2004. So I go to, and find that I’m too late. No, they weren’t sold out. Far from it. First place or not, it’s still the freakin’ Rangers, for cryin’ out loud! No, I was too late for a far more insurmountable reason. Ken Griffey, Jr. is retiring, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY! The emotions that coursed through my body at that point were quite indescribable, and
    quite overpowering. I’m 51 years old, and can’t remember not being a baseball fan. In fact, I’ve been borderline obsessed with the game a good part of that time. The rest of the time, I’ve been totally obsessed. And I don’t remember there not being a Ken Griffey counted among the prominent players in the game. Until today. The winds of change are blowing strong in the Great Game.

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