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savafan
02-20-2007, 01:51 PM
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/304348_moore20.html

By JIM MOORE
P-I COLUMNIST

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Twenty years have passed since Ken Griffey Jr. arrived in Seattle, and Monday afternoon he looked all of 17 again.

The first man to wear his cap backward is wearing it backward as he pitches batting practice to his three kids while his wife helps shag balls.

On a small field at the Cincinnati Reds' springtraining complex, a crowd of seven watches -- three photographers, two reporters, local resident Dick Vitale and Akeiba, Griffey's Rottweiler from the bed of his owner's jet black Ford F-150 pickup.

The oldest, Trey, 13, and Taryn, 11, are good athletes, and if Vitale were asked, 4-year-old Tevin looks like a diaper dandy.

Two decades ago Tevin's dad was "The Kid." Flying west as the first pick in the 1987 draft, the Cincinnati native knew nothing about Seattle, much less Bellingham, where his pro career would begin.

He didn't even know the Mariners existed until his junior year at Moeller High School, and here he was, about to own the team and the town.

For all that Edgar Martinez was to this franchise, Griffey was more, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, one of the best to ever play the game. And most memorably, the man under the pig-pile at home plate in '95.

You could see that smile again Monday when he joked with teammates and played with his kids. But during an hour-long interview in the clubhouse, the smile was not as evident.

The subject: Griffey's first return to Seattle after being traded to the Reds following the '99 season. Cincinnati plays a three-game series at Safeco Field on June 22-24.

So, Ken, are you excited to go back? Are you looking forward to it? What kind of reception do you think you'll get? These questions yielded little, aside from a lack of emotion, which was notable in itself.

"I haven't really thought about it," Griffey said. "I have no idea what to expect. I'm trying to get through the spring and get on with the season. It's a long ways away. I've got to do some things before I get there."

Griffey is sitting on a trunk next to his locker, fooling around with a black bat, taking half-swings, giving short answers. He looks like he would rather be doing anything but this and to be honest, I would, too -- there must be a golf course or cocktail lounge right around the corner.

But then he began to open up. It was almost as if you could hear the creaking of a door that had been slammed shut for a long time. Or maybe this is just the way Griffey is, I don't know. From most accounts, he's hard to figure out.

Take a guess how many times he's been back to Seattle since he left? That's right, zip, zero, nada. His wife, Melissa, is from Gig Harbor.

"Not even for a family function?" he's asked.

"Nope," he says. "I haven't done anything in Seattle. The closest I've gotten is San Francisco."

"Miss anything in Seattle?" he's asked.

"Nah, other than seeing Jay (Buhner) and Edgar," he says.

Griffey did appreciate the fan support and those in the Mariners organization.

"The people there will always be close to me because they gave me an opportunity to play," he said.

It can't be just another series on the schedule, though Junior makes it sound like it is. I'd bet, deep down, gun to his head, it will mean a lot to him.

"Do you think you'll be cheered?" he's asked.

"I have no idea," he says.

Could you possibly boo him? A-Rod, yes. Randy Johnson, maybe. But Ken Griffey Jr., no matter why he left? The player who saved the franchise?

He was said to be unhappy with Safeco Field's dimensions, limiting his chance to be the all-time home run leader. He was said to want to play for a team that had spring-training facilities in Florida, near his offseason home in Orlando.

Whatever it was, new M's GM Pat Gillick realized he had to make a deal after a conversation with Griffey.

"Ken, I just got here," Gillick told him. "Our goal is to go to the World Series. Do you want to be a part of that?"

"No," Griffey said.

Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, said that comment should not be misinterpreted, that Griffey's goal is always to win a championship.

"It had nothing to do with the World Series, it had to do with Kenny physically, geographically being in Seattle," Goldberg said. "This was about him being miserable away from his family."

That reason trumped all others.

"Everybody in Seattle said, 'What do you have to leave for?' " Griffey said. "I wanted to be around my kids and see 'em grow up. Then they'd say, you could fly 'em in. But it's about being there, being a dad. If they need something, I want to be there.

"Then I'd hear, 'There must be something else.' No. I want to be a dad. It's my job to make sure they turn out OK."

If you want to talk about his kids, he'll talk all day and the smile reappears. Trey is a junior high football player who loves to hit.

"I call him my miniature Ray Lewis," Griffey said.

Taryn plays basketball. If baseball forces Griffey to miss one of her games or one of Trey's, he watches them on video, taped by a hired crew.

And preschooler Tevin?

"He might be the best athlete," Griffey said.

Tevin plays flag football and is so quick and shifty, he has yet to have his flag pulled.

Griffey's wife was adopted, and Tevin was, too. "He found us," is how Griffey puts it. "He acts like me all the time. He's got every bad habit."

When the interview goes back to baseball, like they always do, Griffey becomes less animated. Playing in his hometown has not gone as well as he'd hoped.

Six years and eight trips to the disabled list, each one further preventing Griffey from catching Hank Aaron and giving baseball a steroid-free home run king. He has hit 563 and could reach 600 this year, barring injury of course.

It's a running joke, and he's not laughing. The three most used words in Cincinnati headlines: "Griffey's hurt again."

That's why he was reluctant to initially reveal details of his most recent injury, a broken left hand suffered when he was rough housing with his kids on their family yacht in the Bahamas in December.

He says nothing bothers him, but so much does. Other than the last one, his injuries have happened on the field.

"How did I get hurt?" Griffey asks. "Trying to make a diving catch, taking an extra base, hitting the wall, all the things that people who win do. If I lollygagged, what would (people) say about it?"

There has been a price -- Griffey has nine screws in his body, six in his shoulder, three in his tailbone.

"When I put my hat down for good, I can always say I gave 100 percent," Griffey said. "There will not be a 'what if' in my speech."

One presumes the speech will take place in Cooperstown. Griffey has not decided which uniform he will enter the Hall of Fame in. Based on his comments, make the Mariners a slight favorite.

"I took some shots leaving Seattle the last year, and I took some shots the first year here," Griffey said.

He played 11 years in Seattle, six years and counting in Cincinnati. He admits that, even now, people know him more as a Mariner than a Red.

Critics in Cincinnati also give the M's an edge. When he separated his shoulder and was still down on the turf, Griffey heard someone in the stands ripping him for getting hurt.

Trey's classmates say things, too, and then there was the one guy on sports-talk radio last summer. Griffey found out on a Monday that his mom had colon cancer and on the next day that his dad had prostate cancer.

"I suppose he'll use that as an excuse now," the caller said.

Said Goldberg: "I wish he would render a lot of those people as irrelevant as I do."

Maybe they've forgotten that he doesn't drink, doesn't get in trouble, and they can't possibly know that he gives to many charities because Griffey doesn't want his benevolence publicized.

Griffey can't let go of these things, nor does it help to tell him that those people have to be in the minority, that a majority of Reds fans must love him. He doesn't believe that either. Even when you're Ken Griffey Jr. you're not necessarily a hometown hero.

He thinks more Reds fans cheer for him "because they've got a chance to see history" than because he's one of the players on their favorite team.

"My home's in Florida. I work in Cincinnati," Griffey said.

"But you grew up there," I said. "Cincinnati's your hometown."

"My home's in Florida. I work in Cincinnati," Griffey repeated. "That 19-year-old kid who's now 37 has a whole different opinion of people. I work in Cincinnati. That's it."

His newest home is being built near Orlando, and it's at least as big as the last one, which had 15,000 square feet. He doesn't think it's interesting that this one has a 10-car garage.

"A 10-car garage!?" I ask.

"The other one had 12," says Griffey, who owns eight cars, all of which are 450-horsepower-plus.

He loves Florida and says that Seattle's weather was a minor factor in his decision to leave. But it should be nice when he returns in June, 20 years to the month of his original signing.

Griffey can low-key it, downplay it, and say it's not a big deal, but his agent knows otherwise, saying: "I know for a fact he's very excited about going back."

Further proof -- it bothered him when he watched the Kingdome's implosion.

"I was thinking about all the good times I had in that stadium," he said.

The Mariners are planning a ceremony for Griffey, one that should feature the retiring of his number.

If they do or don't, there's a more important issue. The interview's over and his kids need a ride. It's time to be a dad again.

HumnHilghtFreel
02-20-2007, 02:04 PM
It's interesting to see his view on Cincinnati like that. Good article.

Jpup
02-20-2007, 02:11 PM
That was a good article, but I can't imagine Jr. saying those things about just working in Cincinnati they way the author worded it. That doesn't sound like him at all.

Grounds_Crew
02-20-2007, 02:31 PM
That was a good article, but I can't imagine Jr. saying those things about just working in Cincinnati they way the author worded it. That doesn't sound like him at all.


Great article. But...I'll tell you right away , that sounds EXACTLY like something Griffey would say. Griffey's heart is with his wife and his kids. To him, yes, Cincinnati is just a place where he works.


As for the comment about all of his cars being 450+ HP, that's not completely true. He owns a Range Rover and a Mercedes SL500 that his wife bought for him when he hit his 500th homer. Neither of those are 450HP. On the other hand, he does own a Porsche Carrera GT, which is nearly a $500k car.


Anyway, this was a great article to read and it all sounds 100% like Griffey.

TeamBoone
02-20-2007, 02:38 PM
That was a good article, but I can't imagine Jr. saying those things about just working in Cincinnati they way the author worded it. That doesn't sound like him at all.

Hmmm, I pondered this as well, but in the longrun, yeah, I'm sure that's the way he feels.

As the article states, people booed him when he was hurt (I attended the game he cites, and they did, much to my dismay), and he also states that he wonders if the fans actually come to see him play because he's a member of their beloved team or because he's a big part of history.

I truly don't think he feels the Cincinnati fans like him. Unfortunately, it appears that a minority of fans has turned him a bit sour on his hometown.

I can understand why he might feel that way (if he does).

savafan
02-20-2007, 02:43 PM
I truly don't think he feels the Cincinnati fans like him. Unfortunately, it appears that a minority of fans has turned him a bit sour on his hometown.

I can understand why he might feel that way (if he does).

Yeah, the Griffey's hurt again jokes have to get old, and Junior seems to be a person who wears his heart on his sleeve.

He's right though, all of his injuries have come from playing hard and trying to help the team win. It's really difficult to blame the man for that.

Grounds_Crew
02-20-2007, 02:51 PM
Let me tell you guys this. He came off of the field during one game in particular, and I noticed something weird when he sat his hat and glove down on the steps. There was a handful of change (money) inside the glove. Since he was sitting at the end of the dugout closest to where I was standing, I asked him why he had a handful of money in his glove. He kinda laughed, and said that people in the stands by the smoke stacks were throwing things at him.

So, the next day or so, I dont remember specifically, but anyway...I asked him more about that. He kinda laughed again and mentioned, "oh, that's nothing". He went on to tell me that people have thrown batteries, half eaten apples, change, etc at him.

Then, I asked him where he gets the "treatment" the most. He quickly said, "here...Cincinnati." I couldn't believe it, out of all of the fans in the country, our own hometown fans treat him the worst. I mean, c'mon guys. Cincinnati is a baseball town, we all know that...but you guys have no idea how demeaning that some of these fans can be at the games. I've felt very ashamed at times from some of the things that have been said/yelled at the players.

HumnHilghtFreel
02-20-2007, 02:55 PM
Let me tell you guys this. He came off of the field during one game in particular, and I noticed something weird when he sat his hat and glove down on the steps. There was a handful of change (money) inside the glove. Since he was sitting at the end of the dugout closest to where I was standing, I asked him why he had a handful of money in his glove. He kinda laughed, and said that people in the stands by the smoke stacks were throwing things at him.

So, the next day or so, I dont remember specifically, but anyway...I asked him more about that. He kinda laughed again and mentioned, "oh, that's nothing". He went on to tell me that people have thrown batteries, half eaten apples, change, etc at him.

Then, I asked him where he gets the "treatment" the most. He quickly said, "here...Cincinnati." I couldn't believe it, out of all of the fans in the country, our own hometown fans treat him the worst. I mean, c'mon guys. Cincinnati is a baseball town, we all know that...but you guys have no idea how demeaning that some of these fans can be at the games. I've felt very ashamed at times from some of the things that have been said/yelled at the players.

That really is terrible. I wish I could be surprised by what people are capable of anymore.

bucksfan2
02-20-2007, 02:57 PM
Here is a guy who is a superstar but doesn't want to be. He was the best player in the game for a decade and there isn't anyone out there who can tell you he didn't have fun doing it. I am a jr fan and I would love to see him hit his 600th hr in a reds uniform and retire a red.

TeamBoone
02-20-2007, 03:02 PM
I've felt very ashamed at times from some of the things that have been said/yelled at the players.

I totally agree. I've seen it first hand on many occasions. Heck, I get involved in verbal exchanges with fans around me all the time on how they treat the players (just ask most anyone who's attended a game with me).

Many are DISGUSTING, and it angers me to no end.

Grounds_Crew
02-20-2007, 03:06 PM
Well, think about how those "people" act when they are in direct speaking distance to the players, near the dugout.

I've seen players bight their tongue many times...but I've also seen and heard players backlash at those "people" on occasions. It's very entertaining to say the least.

RANDY IN INDY
02-20-2007, 03:13 PM
Can't really say that I blame Griffey for his feelings about Cincinnati and its fans although there are a lot of us who appreciate the wonderful ballplayer and human being that he is.

dougdirt
02-20-2007, 03:33 PM
I have almost gotten into fist fights with a few different people at Reds games over giving Griffey crap before. Some of the things people say are freaking ridiculous. One guy said something to the extent of "why dont you just get hurt again and retire, that way I dont have to watch you suck every game".... I turned around and went nuts on the guy.... almost got thrown out of the game.

Razor Shines
02-20-2007, 03:38 PM
Let me tell you guys this. He came off of the field during one game in particular, and I noticed something weird when he sat his hat and glove down on the steps. There was a handful of change (money) inside the glove. Since he was sitting at the end of the dugout closest to where I was standing, I asked him why he had a handful of money in his glove. He kinda laughed, and said that people in the stands by the smoke stacks were throwing things at him.

So, the next day or so, I dont remember specifically, but anyway...I asked him more about that. He kinda laughed again and mentioned, "oh, that's nothing". He went on to tell me that people have thrown batteries, half eaten apples, change, etc at him.

Then, I asked him where he gets the "treatment" the most. He quickly said, "here...Cincinnati." I couldn't believe it, out of all of the fans in the country, our own hometown fans treat him the worst. I mean, c'mon guys. Cincinnati is a baseball town, we all know that...but you guys have no idea how demeaning that some of these fans can be at the games. I've felt very ashamed at times from some of the things that have been said/yelled at the players.

No wonder he doesn't want to move to RF, I'd want to stay as far away from those walls as possible too. But seriously that's terrible, I can't believe that it happens enough that he has a handful of change. What must be going through your mind to think that throwing things at a ballplayer would be ok?

Grounds_Crew
02-20-2007, 03:38 PM
I don't know if any of you guys checked out my thread that had a bunch of pictures from behind the scenes...

...but in that thread I mentioned that Griffey comes out for batting practice at least an hour before everyone else. He does it every day!

Razor Shines
02-20-2007, 03:41 PM
I have almost gotten into fist fights with a few different people at Reds games over giving Griffey crap before. Some of the things people say are freaking ridiculous. One guy said something to the extent of "why dont you just get hurt again and retire, that way I dont have to watch you suck every game".... I turned around and went nuts on the guy.... almost got thrown out of the game.

I can't believe people look at him like that. I don't get it. I still love watching the guy play. Like I've said before I could watch him hit batting practice all day.

M2
02-20-2007, 04:02 PM
I can see where Jr.'s coming from. Professionally speaking his stay in Cincinnati has been a bad trip. He's been constantly injured. The team has fallen into its worst dive in 50 years. He's had revolving door managers and GMs. Everybody's frustrated and probably no one more than Ken Griffey Jr.

All things considered it sounds like he's in a situation a lot of folks are in. I imagine most of us would rather have a happy home life and view a well-paid job as a job rather than love our jobs and struggle on the homefront. Winning would probably cure some of that for him.

But Jr.'s been around for almost exclusively bad times and as I'm sure we can all attest, that sort of thing can weigh on you.

Dunner44
02-20-2007, 06:50 PM
I really like Jr. He has some of the best work ethic on the team, and he leads by example, even if he might not be that vocal in the locker room. I agree with everyone that Cincinnati has worn on him. All the pounding he took on that astroturf, combined with an aging body is the reason he's hurt, not becuase he doesn't try or because he wants to piss off Cincinnati fans.

The way his injuries have been handled by the club and Doc. Hollywood hasn't helped his perception at all either. It usually sounds like Griffey is trying to come back and play and is prevented from doing so by the medical staff. Some comments last season about him trying not to rush himself, however, immediately make fans turn sour on him.

Griff is an enigma, and his kind of closed off personality can get to people. But he still is an amazing player, and I'm glad he's in Cincinnati. Sure I'd like him to play RF and bat lower than 3rd, but I'll take having him over not having Kenny any day.

redsfan30
02-20-2007, 07:05 PM
Sometimes I wish there was a way to let him know that there are fans who truely appriciate him and what he stands for. It really breaks my heart that he has to deal with morons like that in his hometown.

Grounds_Crew
02-20-2007, 07:08 PM
Sometimes I wish there was a way to let him know that there are fans who truely appriciate him and what he stands for. It really breaks my heart that he has to deal with morons like that in his hometown.

That's probably why Cincinnati isn't is "hometown" anymore and why he considers it just his place of employment.

MartyFan
02-20-2007, 07:22 PM
That was a good article, but I can't imagine Jr. saying those things about just working in Cincinnati they way the author worded it. That doesn't sound like him at all.

I have to say I can totally see Junior saying that and I don't hold it against him one bit. He came to this team because Pants painted a picture that he wasa going to return the team to the glory of the BRM and he and Larkin were going to be the center of it.

Then Pants and Lindner choked on "doing what needed to be done" and as a result, Junior and Larkin often have been vilified because of their contracts...don't forget that Junior gave the Reds a Discount on his contract when he came to Cincy.

I agree that most Reds fans only cared about him as far as his records and now that there is no chance of him getting the record they treat him like he is just any other player on the field...well, he's not, he's Ken "Freakin" Griffey Jr...potentially the greatest player to ever play the game...and we got to see him and have him on our team.

Grounds_Crew
02-20-2007, 07:27 PM
he's Ken "Freakin" Griffey Jr...potentially the greatest player to ever play the game...and we got to see him and have him on our team.



Very well said man. Even when Griff was out in Seattle, I always followed him and told my dad that Junior would some day be a Red. I still have my Mariners Starter Jacket, the Starting Line Up figures, over 250 baseball cards, you name it. Griffey was the Jordan of baseball in the 90's...and he's still my favorite player. I mean, he's the hometown "kid', ya know.

vaticanplum
02-20-2007, 08:47 PM
Yeah, I agree too MartyFan.

There's a good possibility that Ken Griffey Junior is the single best player to happen to baseball in my lifetime -- on AND off the field, and the odds of that happening are astronomical. His honesty as displayed in this article is one of his finest off-field qualities, actually.

All told, he has a near-ideal attitude towards life from what I can tell. His parents done good.

Nugget
02-20-2007, 11:52 PM
The you see the crap that Lonnie Wheeler puts in his column - he quotes two lines out of the whole article and then the crap that goes onto the blog. Although its good to see c.trent get in there and tell it like it is!

Gainesville Red
02-21-2007, 01:40 AM
Still got the prettiest swing in the bigs.

RANDY IN INDY
02-21-2007, 07:05 AM
That swing ranks with the best ever.

15fan
02-21-2007, 12:30 PM
Eric Davis got treated pretty similarly.

What is it about folks in Cincinnati and the center fielder?

George Anderson
02-21-2007, 12:35 PM
Eric Davis got treated pretty similarly.

What is it about folks in Cincinnati and the center fielder?

I think its the hype that both Griffey and Davis have received early in their career. Both Griffey and Davis were supposed to be the next Willie Mays. Had both of them not had injury plagued careers they likely could have been.

Grounds_Crew
02-21-2007, 12:36 PM
That swing IS DEFINITELY the best ever.



I fixed it for ya!

MartyFan
02-26-2007, 02:44 AM
I think its the hype that both Griffey and Davis have received early in their career. Both Griffey and Davis were supposed to be the next Willie Mays. Had both of them not had injury plagued careers they likely could have been.

difference is that Junior was not HYPE...there was substance there...Davis was not going to be close to Willie Mays, He was good, nothing like Willie Mays but junior...Junior is the guy that would have replace the standard Mays set had he not been injured the last few years.

hebroncougar
02-26-2007, 10:16 AM
You know........I agree with him to a point. But to say that "I work in Cincinnati" and say it's not his hometown is only inviting more criticism. It's like he doesn't want to be liked for whatever reason. YOu can't let a select group of fans sour you on the rest of the ones who appreciate what you do, and the effort you give. I have taught high school for 11 years, and coached various high school sports for 16 years, and it's a difficult thing to do and I have thicker skin than most. If I'd have paid attention to the critics, or let the kids that don't do anything but cause trouble in the classroom get to me, what would happen to all the kids that I have or have had a positive influence on? You have to get thicker skin Jr...........and have some fun with it.