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reds44
08-11-2006, 01:44 AM
I am not going to lie. I give Griffey alot of crap on this board because he has slowed down, but he is THE reason why I became a Reds fan.

This article made me want to cry.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/09/AR2006080901956.html




CINCINNATI -- It's summertime, the start of school is still another few weeks away, and in the mid-afternoon the Cincinnati Reds' clubhouse is filling up with kids, lucky kids whose fathers are big league ballplayers. There are tall ones and chubby ones, white ones and black ones, decked out in team-issued, red-pinstriped uniform pants and batting-practice jerseys, headed outside to take BP or play catch on a big league diamond under a big league sun. And at some point they all have to pass by the double-wide corner locker where Ken Griffey Jr. sits on a giant trunk and trash-talks them.

"You'd better come give me a high-five," Griffey yells to 6-year-old Ryan Weathers, son of pitcher David Weathers. And when the boy refuses and begins to run away giggling, Griffey pounces.

http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/photo/2006/08/09/PH2006080901836.jpg
Ken Griffey Jr. is content with his accomplishments despite suffering from a litany of serious injuries in recent years. (John Sommers II - Reuters)

"I'm going to be your agent, right?" Griffey screams. He has the boy down on the floor, squirming, unleashing a barrage of noogies, pokes and tickles. Ryan is shaking his head, giggling uncontrollably. "C'mon, I'll do it for three percent," Griffey says. No deal. "Two and a half!" Finally, the boy relents and Griffey sets him free.

"Don't forget," Griffey yells after him. "We have a deal."

Griffey climbs back on the trunk, laughing -- "The Kid" at play, the slugger at peace. Now in his 18th major league season, with three or four careers' worth of accomplishments and heartbreaks behind him, Griffey, 36, is an elder statesman of the game, a father of three and -- it appears -- the patriarch of what might be called the Reds' extended clubhouse family.

"He's great with them," marvels first baseman Scott Hatteberg, the father of three girls. "He's still 'The Kid,' you know? It's like he's one of them."

He was a big leaguer at 19, an all-star at 20, a father at 24 and a virtual-lock Hall of Famer by 34. He was for the longest time the game's most complete, most elegant player -- winner of 10 Gold Glove awards and four home run titles. Jim Bowden, who as the Reds' general manager made the trade that brought Griffey back to his home town in 2000, once called him "the Michael Jordan of baseball."

And at one time, before a slew of injuries wrecked the story line, Griffey was considered the leading contender to break Hank Aaron's hallowed record of 755 home runs. That's not likely to happen now -- at least not by him -- yet Griffey still carries himself, here in the autumn of his career, as someone with no regrets.

"All I've ever wanted to do is be like my dad," Griffey says, referring to Ken Griffey Sr., a Reds mainstay in the 1970s. "I never thought I'd hit 500 home runs [he has 559]. I was shooting for 152 because that's how many my dad had."

The Reds, 11 years removed from their last playoff appearance and six years since their last winning season, are back in contention this summer, holding a share of the National League wild-card lead at the start of Wednesday's play and wrapping up a four-game series here Thursday against the NL Central division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

Griffey's numerous injuries made him the focal point of fan disenchantment in recent years, leaving him, by all accounts, sullen and withdrawn. But now he is a major part of the Reds' renaissance, contributing 23 homers and 63 RBI thus far, second on the team in each category to left fielder Adam Dunn. His rate of one homer every 14.6 at-bats ranks ninth in the league. Though the Reds are a flawed team, there is, for once, hope in Cincinnati that Griffey could play in his first World Series this fall.

Still, these days Griffey seems less interested in the Reds' fortunes, at least as a topic of conversation, than in the latest exploits of the three kids -- Trey, 12; Taryn, 10; and Tevin, 4 -- he shares with his wife, Melissa.

Being a dad," Griffey says, "is bigger than anything I've done on the field. To watch them grow more and more independent as they get older. . . . They get further and further away from you -- but never too far, because they still need you close to them."

When Trey, tall and lean, comes into the clubhouse after taking some cuts in the batting cage, Griffey's eyes follow him, and Trey feels them on his back. "Watch this," Griffey whispers, out of his son's earshot. "Watch what he picks up." Trey circles around to his father's locker, reaches down and picks up a football that is lying on the floor. He sits on a stool and spins the ball around in his hands.

"I knew it," Griffey says. "That kid loves football."

This spring, Griffey turned the unceremonious release of a teammate into a life lesson for Trey. Trey happened to be hanging around the Reds' spring training facility on the day the team released pitcher Josh Hancock, who had reported to camp overweight and out of shape. Trey saw the player get called into the manager's office, emerging later to begin cleaning out his locker.

"It might have been the best thing that ever happened to us as father and son," Griffey says. "I've told him so many times: 'Always give 100 percent, because you never know when it's going to be your last. Take one play off in football, and it could be a touchdown.'

"So when Hancock got released, for [Trey] to see that firsthand . . . I kept turning around saying: 'See? You see that? You see that?' Finally, by about the third time, he says, 'I get it, Dad.' But from that point on, I've seen a difference in him. My dad always told me: 'There's going to be a guy bigger than you, faster than you. Just don't let anyone outwork you.' "

Taryn, on the other hand, loves basketball. Only a little more than five pounds at birth, she was two weeks old when she suddenly topped breathing at home, and Griffey, ever the clutch performer, saved her by using a suctioning device to clear out her breathing passageway.
"From that point on, she was daddy's little girl," Griffey says. "She's like the queen of the house. She's already told me what kind of car she wants." And what car would that be? "A Hummer," he says, with a look of defeat on his face.

Four years ago, the Griffeys decided to adopt a child, as a way to pay forward the gift that had been bestowed upon Melissa Griffey, who was herself adopted. That's how Tevin came to them, at one day old.

"He's such a Griffey," Griffey says. "Every bad trait I have, he's got. He's a bad little dude. And guess what? He's the best athlete of the three."

Asked how he would describe his parenting style, Griffey says: "I like to tell people I'm the Malcolm X of parents. And everyone's like, 'What are you talking about?' And I say, 'By any means necessary to keep them things quiet!' You want this candy? Here! Just keep quiet!"

Brian Goldberg, who has been Griffey's agent from the first day of his professional career -- having served as Griffey Sr.'s agent before that -- says Griffey is "totally at peace" with what he has done in the game, and what he can still do.

It's because of the life he lives off the field," Goldberg says. "That's a large reason why he has been able to keep the baseball part in perspective. It has not defined him. . . . And it's different now, with the kids getting older. It's different when you're 28 and at the top of your game, and you have two kids, but they're 2 and 4. Hey, he'd still love to win a [World Series] ring or two before he retires. I don't want people to get the idea baseball isn't important to him. It's just that it fits differently within the context of family."

It is difficult to observe the sense of peace that Griffey exudes and not compare it to the very different feeling that trails the fellow superstar whose career is linked so inextricably to his own. In the 1990s, Griffey and Barry Bonds were the undisputed players of the decade for the respective leagues -- Bonds in the NL, Griffey in the AL, where he spent the first 11 seasons of his career with Seattle.

Griffey finished the decade with 382 homers, Bonds with 361. But then things went haywire.

Griffey's production, not withstanding the injuries that have cost him nearly 400 games the past six seasons, has remained fairly steady -- he averaged a homer every 14.1 at-bats in the 1990s and has averaged one every 14.7 at-bats this decade. But Bonds, at a point in his career when history says he should have slowed considerably, grew alarmingly more prolific. His at-bats-per-homer ratio went from one every 13.6 at-bats in the 1990s to one every 8.7 at-bats in the 2000s.

So, where once Griffey was thought to be The One who would surpass 755, now it is Bonds, 42, who sits at 723 -- 164 more than Griffey -- hoping someone gives him a chance to break the record next season.

But while Griffey enjoys the peace of mind of being someone who is regarded as having resisted the Faustian temptation of steroids throughout his career, Bonds is hounded by media reports, an MLB-commissioned investigation and a grand jury probe regarding the alleged steroid use that, it is generally believed, fueled his late-career surge.

Despite the temptations of the era in which he played, Griffey -- who has had a long, close friendship with Bonds -- said he never even encountered the proverbial crossroads where the choice to go down the steroid road was presented to him.

"I was never around it," he says. "My friends didn't do drugs -- I've had the same friends since high school. With a lot of guys, [their introduction to steroids] was through a personal trainer at a gym somewhere -- it had nothing to do with baseball. You go to any gym, and there's somebody who knows something about that stuff.

"But my dad always talked about playing the game right. If someone's better than you, outwork them."

And if that someone is better than you because of illegal drugs, so it goes?

"Yeah, basically," Griffey says.

There are no regrets here about the past, no self-pity over what might have been. And there also is very little serious thought about his baseball future. Griffey's eight-year, $116.5 million contract with the Reds runs through 2008, with a team option for 2009. When that contractual obligation is over, Griffey says, he will make a decision about his future. It's too early to tell now how he might be feeling in two or three years.

What there is, then, is only the present, and what a present it is, with the Reds in the playoff race, a beautiful family to go home to and marvel at, and this warm feeling of peace that has The Kid feeling like The Kid again.



Awesome article.

dougdirt
08-11-2006, 02:02 AM
:thumbup:

KronoRed
08-11-2006, 02:37 AM
That kid better not go back on the agreement ;)

UKFlounder
08-11-2006, 06:08 AM
But my dad always talked about playing the game right. If someone's better than you, outwork them."

If Jerry Narron made this quote, he'd be ridiculed for it and the "scrappy" comments would be sure to follow.

TeamCasey
08-11-2006, 06:34 AM
"My dad always told me: 'There's going to be a guy bigger than you, faster than you. Just don't let anyone outwork you.' ""

I LOVE that quote.

RedsBaron
08-11-2006, 07:07 AM
:thumbup: Thanks for posting the article.:thumbup:

Ltlabner
08-11-2006, 07:18 AM
Fantastic article. What a solid man.

RedLegSuperStar
08-11-2006, 07:36 AM
The Kid.. Wow.. What more can you say!

redsmetz
08-11-2006, 08:27 AM
I know I'm constantly harping on this, but I wonder if this sort of heart isn't the type of intagible I keep poking at that puts players a bit above their individual stats. We see Griff struggle this year, but whose to say, and I can't say one way or the other, that having Griffey on this team isn't what is driving this team in some small way. He's not a yeller, he's not a screamer, but he leads in this way that maybe draws more out of his fellow players.

Ltlabner
08-11-2006, 08:29 AM
I know I'm constantly harping on this, but I wonder if this sort of heart isn't the type of intagible I keep poking at that puts players a bit above their individual stats. We see Griff struggle this year, but whose to say, and I can't say one way or the other, that having Griffey on this team isn't what is driving this team in some small way. He's not a yeller, he's not a screamer, but he leads in this way that maybe draws more out of his fellow players.

Couldn't agree more. People poo-poo having leaders and "chemistry" but people respond to people who excel. While Jr is definatley not excelling this year on the playing field, he continues to excell as a person and I think that does rub off on the other players.

Johnny Footstool
08-11-2006, 10:15 AM
I really liked reading the article. It's a nice portrait of Griffey the man, not just the athlete.

As for him bringing heart and intangibles to the team, well, he's been on the team for almost 7 years, and his intangibles haven't helped the team to a winning record since 2000. Sean Casey brought a lot of heart and intangibles, too.

GAC
08-11-2006, 10:22 AM
In this day and age it's good to see such a solid father image. My kids are my life.

Excellent article.

redsmetz
08-11-2006, 10:44 AM
I really liked reading the article. It's a nice portrait of Griffey the man, not just the athlete.

As for him bringing heart and intangibles to the team, well, he's been on the team for almost 7 years, and his intangibles haven't helped the team to a winning record since 2000. Sean Casey brought a lot of heart and intangibles, too.

Point taken. Shall we say "heart and intagibles" and an adequate pitching staff??? :)

dabvu2498
08-11-2006, 10:45 AM
I really liked reading the article. It's a nice portrait of Griffey the man, not just the athlete.

As for him bringing heart and intangibles to the team, well, he's been on the team for almost 7 years, and his intangibles haven't helped the team to a winning record since 2000. Sean Casey brought a lot of heart and intangibles, too.
In 17 seasons, Griff has played on only 6 teams that had winning records.

That said, great portrait of a guy who appreciates what's really important in life.

The greedy, Reds fan part of me hated reading this:

Ken Griffey Jr. is content with his accomplishments despite suffering from a litany of serious injuries in recent years.

Johnny Footstool
08-11-2006, 10:47 AM
Point taken. Shall we say "heart and intagibles" and an adequate pitching staff??? :)

Amen! :beerme:

RFS62
08-11-2006, 10:58 AM
Very nice piece.

vaticanplum
08-11-2006, 12:07 PM
Point taken. Shall we say "heart and intagibles" and an adequate pitching staff??? :)

"Faith isn't enough. You still need left-handed pitching." -- Pete Hamill

captainmorgan07
08-11-2006, 01:18 PM
great article through all the steriod era junior has done his accomplishments naturally and through hard work a great role model

NJReds
08-11-2006, 01:20 PM
He was for the longest time the game's most complete, most elegant player -- winner of 10 Gold Glove awards and four home run titles.

For me, that's what makes watching him now so difficult. I don't get down on Jr. But due to the injuries he's sustained, it's just hard to watch him hack away these days. I remember the mad dash to home he made when Seattle beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Now he struggles to get to first base on a ground ball.

I'll always be a Jr. fan. But as a Reds fan, I'll always wonder "what if he had remained healthy?"

Ltlabner
08-11-2006, 01:35 PM
I really liked reading the article. It's a nice portrait of Griffey the man, not just the athlete.

As for him bringing heart and intangibles to the team, well, he's been on the team for almost 7 years, and his intangibles haven't helped the team to a winning record since 2000. Sean Casey brought a lot of heart and intangibles, too.

Who said "heart" and "intagibles" automatically = world series wins? If someone did they are nuts.

But if you have a chance to add a player to your team that has "heart" and "intagibles" in addition to their playing skills, how is that a bad thing?

WVRedsFan
08-11-2006, 02:37 PM
Thanks for posting that, 44.

Makes you proud that he's a Red, regardless of everything else.

osuceltic
08-11-2006, 03:23 PM
I'm going to be the jerk in this discussion ...

Junior is a good person. He's well adjusted and has his priorities in order in a big-picture sense. He's also one of the great players to ever play the game.

However ...

He has become the definition of a low-energy player. He doesn't run balls out at all. He doesn't take an extra base, even when it's handed to him. He saunters around the park the majority of the time at his own leisurely pace. He takes his time getting to balls that he can't catch in the air to the point that I often fear well-prepared teams are going to stretch singles into doubles in a key situation. His body language screams "I get paid either way."

I'm NOT saying he doesn't care. And I'm not discounting the injury problems. I know some say not running out balls isn't a big deal. I say it is. Especially when you're the face of the team and someone who should be a veteran leader. And I don't want to hear the injury excuse for not running out ground balls. Not when he still runs hard (although slowly) in the outfield. Either you can or you can't.

Personally, I think Junior became a father and a family man and got a little soft. He made all the money in the world, loved his kids to death, and baseball just didn't seem as important anymore. He strikes me as someone who can't wait for the game to end so he can get home to his kids. That makes for a great father, but the ballplayer has suffered. And to be brutally honest, the ballplayer is what I care about as a fan of the Reds.

To be fair, Junior isn't the only low-energy guy in baseball. The sport is littered with them. There's a fine line between a healthy "it's-a-long-season, it's-a-marathon-not-a-sprint" perspective and a not so healthy "oh well, there's another game tomorrow" perspective. Guys can start on one side of the line and end up on the other pretty easily. You need guys who play the game like there isn't another one tomorrow. It's why GMs place a value on guys like Derek Jeter (high-end example) and Ryan Freel (low-end).

The Reds had too many low-energy guys before the trade (Kearns and FeLo both qualify, as do Junior and Dunn). They've tried to provide a better balance. We'll see if it works. The sad thing is Junior didn't used to be that kind of player. Watch him in his early days. The guy brought tremendous energy to the game. I know the years have taken their toll, but I don't have to look the other way and pretend it hasn't happened.

Junior is a good guy. Apparently a good father. I wish he had a little SOB in him when he came to the ballpark.

NJReds
08-11-2006, 03:34 PM
Is he low-energy? Or is he a guy trying to play with his hamstring being held together with staples?

I think the issue is whether or not he should retire because he can't play up to an acceptable level. Apparently the Reds and Jr. both think that he's more help than hindrance.

osuceltic
08-11-2006, 03:37 PM
Is he low-energy? Or is he a guy trying to play with his hamstring being held together with staples?

I think the issue is whether or not he should retire because he can't play up to an acceptable level. Apparently the Reds and Jr. both think that he's more help than hindrance.
He's low-energy. There's a difference, and you can tell it.

As for the Reds thinking he's more help than hindrance -- they have something like $15 million reasons for keeping him around. He remains one of the most untradeable players in baseball, unless the Reds are prepared to pay a large chunk of that remaining contract.

NJReds
08-11-2006, 03:44 PM
He's low-energy. There's a difference, and you can tell it.

I respectfully disagree. Although I do think he should be playing a corner OF spot and shouldn't be batting third. I don't think he's a slacker.

WMR
08-11-2006, 03:59 PM
If Junior would consent to playing 1st base, I'd love for him to stay with the Reds as long as he wanted to play. Esp. with a more reasonable contract.

Hoosier Red
08-11-2006, 04:10 PM
He's low-energy. There's a difference, and you can tell it.


Really? How. Just curious how much do you watch him when he's in the field. Obviously you have issues with him not running out groundballs.

But how can you tell he doesn't run hard when in the field. THere have been plenty of balls he's had to go to the ground to get. Perhaps because he still gets pretty good jumps and doesn't have to run hard to get to a ball it looks like he's low energy, that's fine.
I'm just curious how you're defining low energy with his play in the field?

RFS62
08-11-2006, 04:50 PM
Low energy.

That's a good one.

The man's hamstring is screwed onto the bone. He's left more blood and guts on the field than anyone I can ever remember.

Low energy.

Low energy would have been to blow off the rehab and still collected his checks instead of all the work it took to get back on the field each and every time.

Low energy wouldn't be out there taking more batting practice than anyone else on the team.

Low intelligence would be if he busted up his hammys again running out every ground ball. I'm fine with that. It's reality.

A good man knows his limitations. An immature man plays flat out on every play when he's carrying around a ticking time bomb in his legs.

I'm grateful for every day he's healthy and we get to see him play. He's one of the greats ever to put on a Reds uniform.

Yeah, he needs to be in rightfield. But wait, that would be low energy to want to move over there.

I'm confused.

KronoRed
08-11-2006, 05:00 PM
Point taken. Shall we say "heart and intagibles" and an adequate pitching staff??? :)
I get all misty eyed thinking about such a combo :D

Red in Chicago
08-11-2006, 05:11 PM
'62, I agree with you. So far this year, I've been to 6 Cincy games. Not bad, considering I'm 300 miles away. Anyway, two were recently agains the Cardinals. There were a couple of balls that Junior was slow getting to. Sure, he has trouble getting down the first base line and can't seem to turn on a fastball like he use to. However, despite all of this, I anxiously await each and every one of his at bats or balls hit to him in the field. I am watching one of the greatest ball players of all time, even if it's not in his prime. He's only a small handful of home runs from being in the top ten all time. If you take out Mr. Andro and Mr. Viagra, he's already there. Enjoy the last few years of Junior's playing time. Types like him don't come around often.

princeton
08-11-2006, 05:52 PM
The man's hamstring is screwed onto the bone. He's left more blood and guts on the field than anyone I can ever remember.


that's why I doubt that he's feeling like The Kid again.

hey, I feel 20 for extended stretches of, well, minutes. But I quickly remember. It's understandable.

while it's great to see a nice article about his attitude and presence, it'd be better to see a couple of months of GG CF defense.

Great to see Jr in a pennant race, but it's been sobering to see the effects of time while remembering what he was, and what time's doing to most of us unenhanced people.

I agree with him that with the end in sight, every HR should be more special for him and for Reds fans.