Wednesday, May 12, 2010
In April 1989 I went to Ken Griffey Jr's first major league game. In his first at-bat, against Oakland, Griffey crushed a Dave Stewert pitch off the left center field wall for a stand-up double. His Hall of Fame career had officialy begun. But are we now watching the end of Griffey's Hall of Fame career? Through the first six weeks of the season he hasn't been able to run or hit. Through Tuesday he's batting .208. That huge, high-wattage Griffey smile is nowhere to be found. Now two players have told the Tacoma News Tribune that Griffey was unavailable to pinch-hit on Saturday because he was taking a nap in the clubhouse during the game. Griffey denies, and so does Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu. The Mariners need a lot of halp. Through Sunday they rank 28th in team batting average (.229). But back to Griffey. Are these his final days in the major leagues? Will he be able to leave on his terms? Can this end gracefully? Now, I'm not writing Griffey off. He may still have a little pop left. He's still a huge clubhouse presence. But at the moment Griffey is not helping his team win. He's taking up a roster spot. This must be killing him. This is the same guy that was named to the All Century Team by the time he was 30. Now, ten years later, he may not make it through the summer. Griffey will go into the Hall of Fame on his first try. Let's remember how much fun he had playing ball. I won't forget the double off the wall off Stewert. Let's forget the nap. You'd fall asleep too if you were forced to watch the Seattle Mariners.