Volume 93, Issue 37

Thursday, November 4, 1999


Kitching a lifer for her sport

Getting physical and pumped up

Rowing to the nationals

Squashing the competition

Griffey Jr. leads hard existence

Griffey Jr. leads hard existence

Forget the poetic rhetoric that's surrounded baseball over the last few years. All the home runs, perfect games and post-season rivalries in the world will never be enough to erase what inevitably happens in the off-season, when baseball rears it's ugly, money-grubbing head.

Ken Griffey Jr.'s recent request for a trade from the Seattle Mariners is the mark of baseball at it's very lowest. No dominant player in the past decade has been more synonymous with a baseball team than Griffey Jr. has with the Mariners.

Seattle, who entered the major leagues alongside the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977, never even approached having a competitive team until Griffey entered the fold in the late '80s. Griffey's impact in Seattle was felt almost immediately – fans fell in love with him and the team quickly dubbed him the future of the franchise.

Griffey has reportedly turned down an enormous eight-year $140 million offer from the Mariners, citing a desire to play closer to his home in Florida instead. It's ironic that Griffey's hackneyed press release thanks Seattle fans for their loyalty, when it's so painfully obvious he has no real grasp of the concept himself.

Sure, his stated reasons for requesting the trade are honourable – he wants to be closer to his wife and children. But in the grand scheme of things, is this really a good enough reason?

Not including the slew of money he rakes in from various endorsements, Griffey is poised to earn in excess of $15 million per year. In addition to having four months off every year, he's also setting himself up for a nice early retirement. Why can't he see his kids then?

It sounds heartless but at the root of things, baseball is a job. With any career comes sacrifices and the ones that Griffey would be making are paltry in comparison to the ultimate payoffs. Regular people who don't enjoy Griffey's fame or fortune have done worse. But I guess because he's a big league ballplayer he's above trivialities like "sacrifice" and "responsibility."

The classy thing to do would have been to reciprocate his love for Seattle by staying in the city and helping the team finally become a winner. Given that the Mariners are set to move to a new ballpark soon, it would've been the perfect way to get Seattle fans excited about baseball again.

But then, I guess that'd be asking a bit too much – closing out a career in a city that adores you is a painful prospect.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999