From the Windup is FanHouse's extended look at a particular portion of America's pastime.
The title to this particular column isn't so much based on the possibility of Ken Griffey, Jr., actually hurting anyone by doing anything in particular. Instead, it's supposed to be not-so-veiled M.C. Hammer reference. Yes, I am freaking hip like that.
BUT ... I am also freaking aged like that, at least in the sense that my childhood was filled with Hammer cassette tapes, Streetfighter and Upper Deck baseball cards. (What the hell else do you think bloggers are raised on?) And for someone my age or thereabouts, there is no greater UD card than the 1989 Ken Griffey, Jr., Seattle Mariners rookie card.
This is because Griffey as a Mariner defined everything that was good and pure and awesome and not Barry Bonds about baseball; he has(d) the sweetest swing of the modern era, he ran like an antelope, albeit completely in control, through the outfield and he had a cannon arm.
None of these traits disappeared when he went home to Cincinnati (and then to Chicago) but some sort of anti-Seattle, Dusty Baker-like karmic energy took ahold of his body and doomed him to an incredibly disappointing latter second half of a career.
He is now 39 and it appears as if no one team in baseball is particularly interested in him. And that makes a lot of sense -- he won't contribute much except possibly 20 some taters, and those won't be nearly close enough to justify the salary he would end up being paid.
But you know what? Screw it. Seattle, I am hereby demanding that you re-sign Griffey, Jr. Yes, that's right. Demanding. Because, well, why the hell not? There were already rumors that the Mariners were pursuing a "mystery free agent".
"YES!!!!!1", came the cry from the collective group of 20-something non-stat obsessed nostalgic baseball nerds. And then, with a resounding "Russeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell Braaaaaaaaaanyan!" the dreams of Griffey getting to end his career in the great Northwest took a painful blow.
But this is your time, Jack Zduriencik. You have nothing to lose. No, seriously. You don't. Your baseball team is going to be awful for the next few years after Bill Bavasi tricked everyone (including this guy!) into thinking that mirage of an M's squad might be decent by trading away the entire farm system to make a run with Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva.
Additionally, your entire city (and it would be your entire region of the country if Kevin Pritchard wasn't single-handedly keeping the entire moral of the Northwestern United States afloat) is in shambles: the Sonics are bombing in Oklahoma City, the Seahawks are on a nightmare train of a Mike Holmgren Farewell Tour, we all know baseball is going to stink again, the Raul Ibanez Era is over, and Courtney Love is running around town telling Rolling Stone that she is the single greatest singer in the history of the world.
In other words, your once beautiful, albeit rain-filled, city has gone down the drain. It's not the halcyon days of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp making it rain (in the good way), Randy Johnson rocking a mullet and triple digits on the radar and Steve Largent, well, he was awesome, even if he was at the tail end of that run.
And you know who else was awesome in that time frame and who managed to define Seattle in the sports world the way Kurt Cobain did musically? Ken Freaking Griffey, Jr. Give the city some hope, JZ. Just offer him a medium sized contract. You're going to stink anyway, so why does it matter if you sign a veteran who's going to sink your team a few games further in the standings?
The fans -- who, by the way, have nothing else to live for do (see above) -- will love you for it. It won't be smart baseball, but all you have to do is pin all the problems on Bavasi anyway. And the reunion/farewell tour will be one for the ages. Not like a Favre-fake celebration. No sir. It will be Griffey, in all his video game and real life baseball glory, returning to the city where he started his career and closing it out there as Seattle starts a new phase in its baseball development.
Every game will be a sell out as these desperate Northwesterners turn out to salute one of the great baseball players of our generation and at the very least, something good will happen to Seattle for the first time in about a year.
And yeah, I know, this probably comes off like some stupid, hokey, MSM-styled plea to the days of my youth, and maybe that makes me a bit of a d-bag, but seriously, tell me that you wouldn't love to see J-R in an M's uniform one more time and I call you either too young or too old. For those of us that grew up with it, it's just right.
So go ahead. Just do it. Offer the guy a two year deal and tell him you want to run the retirement tour. He'll make the money back for you in ticket sales and we'll all get to die happy knowing that Junior finished his baseball career the way it started.
From the Windup: Please, J-Z, Don't Hurt 'Em; Just Bring Griffey Back to Seattle originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 19:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.