Mariners Insider

For Griffey & the Mariners, the end is near

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on May 10, 2010 at 8:36 am with 29 Comments »
May 10, 2010 3:23 pm

If life were as simple as fiction, the book on Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners would have closed late last summer, with him being carried around Safeco Field on the shoulders of his teammates.

Ken Grifffey Jr.

Adored by fans, appreciated by one and all, his place in baseball history secure.

We’re rarely that lucky – any of us.

Junior wanted one more year, the Mariners thought it might work and gave it to him. And now, less than 35 games in the 2010 season, Griffey is in his final days as a player.
He could lose his job as the left-handed designated hitter within the week. He might lose his position on the 25-man roster nearly as soon. If you want to see Griffey in a Seattle uniform again, watch him on television this week.

It could be your last chance.

It’s not just that he’s hitting close to .200 – the whole Mariners team seems to be hitting close to .200. It’s not just that he’s 41, that his bat speed is down, or that he’s no longer able to play in the field.

He wasn’t fully healthy when he arrived in spring training, and had a balky, surgically repaired knee injected with gel at least twice in camp. Junior could never run hard, never play himself into shape.

The Griffey that a year ago helped build camaraderie in the Seattle clubhouse has taken a leave of absence this season. There have been times during games when he’s retired to the clubhouse, texted friends, watched the TV broadcast.

Last week, when some members of the press corps asked manager Don Wakamatsu why he hadn’t used Griffey as a pinch hitter for Rob Johnson late in a game, Waskamatsu was vague.

Two Mariners players, however, weren’t. Both are younger players, fond of Griffey. Neither had an ax to grind.

So why didn’t Wakamatsu go to Junior off the bench?

“He was asleep in the clubhouse,” one player said. “He’d gone back about the fifth inning to get a jacket and didn’t come back. I went back in about the seventh inning – and he was in his chair, sound asleep.”

The other player, who knows Griffey a little better, tried to ratonalize.

“He doesn’t sleep well at night, he’s away from his family, he’s comfortable in the clubhouse,” he said. “They could have awakened him …”

It’s hardly a capital offense, but it’s a telling piece of anecdotal evidence. This isn’t the Griffey of 2009. This isn’t the Griffey who can help the Mariners in 2010.

 Sooner or later, Wakamatsu is going to ask general manager Jack Zduriencik for a player who can help him win more than Griffey can. And Zduriencik is going to talk to president Chuck Armstrong.

And all of them are going to ask Junior to retire gracefully. If he doesn’t, the end of Griffey’s career will come, anyway – by way of a release from the Seattle Mariners.

All that is going to happen, probably this month.

Griffey will remain a Hall of Fame player, the man his peers voted the best player of the decade in the ‘90s. He ranks among the best power hitters in history – and everything he achieved on the field, he did without performance enhancing drugs.

Junior is the best player I’ve ever seen or will see. He’s an example of what pro athletes can and should be – clean-living, devoted to family, good in the community.

And that is the terrible irony of the Mariners situation today. Griffey is the best player in franchise history, but the team and their fans deserve better.

Griffey cannot give it to them. Someone else will.

Leave a comment Comments → 29
  1. leftybender says:

    Whose going to be the new DH? So long Jr. Thanks for the memories.

  2. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Wow, maybe Larry’s on to something here.

    Perhaps Griffey is (like Luka Brazi in the Godfather) “sleeping with the bats”, he and the bats all have seep Apnia. This would explain a lot.

    (PS: On a serious note, the Mariners won’t send a message to the players by firing the batting coach, but they will when they release Griffey. If Griffey is here to sell tickets, then he should be sleeping in a ticket booth and not in a locker room.)

  3. rcwood27 says:

    Larry Larue who are the two players? at least he does not sleep on the field, like the two young players. He was bored from losing , The young players are not team players, they are looking for press. And for you, write positive stuff. By the way you have always be second best to the Seattle Times. you should be happy you gave JR a bad name over the whole country. I hope the Marines will cut you off, your more of Pacific league guy. you can e-mail with you comments

  4. Skysport says:

    Love THE KID, always have and always will, no matter what, but last season was the perfect time to retire. Like the old show business saying: “Always leave them wanting more”.

    But jeez, what players would rat on a HOFer? Yikes.

  5. bigmike04 says:

    I am suprise that larry is a lot like shannon drayer of mariners blog who hit the panic bottom in her blog this year, maybe people should complaint to TNT about removing Larry LaRue off the blogging and writting about mariners but than again they could remove the writter who is waste of paper spot on his opinion in john m.

    This is only Larry LaRue opionion people let face it, everyone is pointing finger at everyone plain and simple because their crying out it end of world as they know it for mariners when it still early in season for crying out loud AL west is still up for grabs, M’s like I been saying need a power bat like Guillen.

  6. snydro81 says:

    Larry LaRue is, was, and always will be a HACK.

  7. Stopoverreacting says:

    Larry LaRue, you are absolutely ridiculous (and I mean that in the most negative, non-flattering way possible). You somehow have taken a piece of news that should have the headline “Griffey Takes A Nap”, and turned it into an over-the-top editorial disguised as a piece of news with the headline “For Griffey & the Mariners, the end is near.” You have taken one piece of actual reporting regarding Junior sleeping in the clubhouse, and used that as a spring board to speculate about what the Mariners are going to do regarding Ken. You base your “claim” that Griffey and the Mariners are near the end of the road on almost no actual evidence or arguments (with the exception of batting average, which you have admitted is a ridiculous thing to look at, otherwise Rob Johnson and Mike Sweeney would have cut weeks ago).

    Now, your absurd opinion that you’ve chosen to throw out disguised as some bit of breaking news, is being quoted by people as evidence that Junior is being shunned or run out of town here in Seattle. There is no evidence, no quote, no statement, or anything else that indicates that the Mariners are even remotely considering even benching Junior for any significant amount of time, let alone cutting him. People’s only evidence of turmoil is your over-the-top, drama-thirsty article. You have single-handedly created a media poopstorm that could very well have a negative effect on the ballclub, just because (…I can only guess…) you wanted a fiery headline.

    On behalf of every Mariner fan who cares about the stability and calmness of the Mariners clubhouse, I want to thank you for fabricating a giant, time wasting, needless, drama-crazed-media-created distraction.

    Junior sleeping in the clubhouse does not indicate that he’s about to get the axe. It’s not even an indication that people are upset with him. There are stories of Blowers having to fetch Junior from the clubhouse on a day he was DH’ing the mid-90’s so that he could stop watching cartoons and hit a homerun. That story wasn’t a big deal when it came out, because the reporter that wrote it wasn’t a big enough tool-bag to use it as a reason that the Mariners want to cut him.

    By the way, Skysports, nobody “ratted out” Junior. They just said what was happening, and your boy Larry decided to turn it into Nap-ageddon.

    Do us all a favor, Larry, and get a free blogspot account and take your opinion elsewhere so that it’s not mistaken for actual news. You’ve made something out of nothing (not by reporting the sleeping, but by connecting it to a claim that it should be completely independent from), and the whole mariner community is worse for it.


  8. Wow, is there a bit of anger here……….? As Kevin Collaboro put it, Larry is highly regarded & tends to check his sources carefully before putting something in print.

    I agree that the sleeping issue isn’t that important, but Griffey may very well be at the end of a great career. Too bad more of it wasn’t with the M’s, but we sure did get his best years.

  9. I have to agree with Larry; at least the end SHOULD be near for our fan favorite but non-hitting designated hitters. And other players should follow.

    Regarding sleeping at work, it doesn’t matter who the player is, they are being paid millions of dollars to at least be awake during the game. No one should have the privilege of sleeping while they are taking the fan’s money to play a game.

    If a player has a sleeping problem so bad they need to sleep during a game, then maybe they need to seek medical treatment and go on the disabled list.

    In my opinion, the general fans need to understand that baseball in Seattle needs to be about winning, not dreaming wistfully about a game 15 years ago and wasting roster spots on favorite but non-performing players.

  10. ValerieR53 says:

    In case no one noticed, Jack Z. doesn’t call up Larue to give him tips. All of this is pure speculation on his part.

    Larue, I have 1 bit of advice for you. Get a blog site. Unfounded speculation has no place on a hard news site. Or are you taking a nap?

  11. dave8557 says:

    The team can’t keep Sweeny and Griffey on the same team. One or both have to go. It’s always sad to see the great ones hand on near the end. I saw Willie Mays play in his last year at Shea Stadium. Nowhere near the great player he was just a few years before. I saw Micky Mantle in his final two years with New York, batting .245 and .236. The fans loved him, but at age 36, his arthritic knees were that of a 65 year old. Griffy at least played into his 40’s. That’s an accomplishment. He’ll go into the hall of fame. He had a great career. Like Ernie Banks, he never played on a series winner. Perhaps he could have had he not gone to the Reds. He’ll have to live with that one. Good luck to you Kenny!!!!

  12. RIPKingdome says:

    we all know that Griffey is at the end of his career, but I highly doubt the Mariners are going to release him within the week.

    IF Griffey was they only one not performing up to par, THAT would be a different story, but ALL OF THE MARINERS ARE SUCKING RIGHT NOW. Griffey is just just the blame thrown at him because he is an easy target — he’s the franchise’s best player of all time, but he’s not the player he used to be, and it’s just been discovered that he took a nap or two during games….

    (shoot! I’ve fallen asleep at recent games, too)

    so lets point the finger at Griffey.

    But, it isn’t JUST Griffey because he’s just one player. And its wrong to expect ONE player to carry a team, or even to expect that one player to be who he was 15 years ago. No, he’s not that Griffey anymore. And THIS isn’t a Griffey problem…

    it’s a Mariners problem. If one grape in a bunch is bad, its the grape’s fault; but if the whole bunch is bad…. I would blame the farmer (the manager, the coaches, that whole line, ect).

    (I went to a game the other day… the Mariners have one guy who had a batting average of .000? How is THAT possible?)

    It will take a miracle — or a major team overhaul — to fix this… releasing one guy isn’t going to fix anything.

    So, why would they release the one person who is actually getting fans to come?

    With or without Griffey, the Mariners are going to have a hard time getting themselves out of the hole they dug there selves into…

    It doesn’t take a baseball factoidarian to say that this season is over for the Mariners… Griffey is signed on for this season, and I think they will keep him for THIS SEASON (obviously, no longer than this season)…

    or else, in addition to losing games, they lose ticket sales… parking costs… merch sales… food sales… ect. It all goes together, and the bottom line is, Griffey does bring in fans (no other reason to see a losing team).

  13. For all you naysayers…read the post again. Mr. Larue gives a number of reasons why Griffey could be on the outs before he even gets to the nap part of the story. For all you losers who can’t remember what you read, here is a recap:

    1) He is hitting .200.
    2) He is 41.
    3) His bat speed is down.
    4)He is no longer able to play in the field.
    5) He cannot run/work out enough to get in shape due to a balky knee that has twice been injected.
    6) The Griffey clubhouse “leadership” role is not where it was last year.

    Now, without the sleeping part of the story, would that not be enough to support his premise that Griffey may be on the way out? That aside, a superstar (aging) could maybe get away with sleeping in the clubhouse if he was still performing at a reasonable level / providing leadership. Without it, the sleeping part only adds to the list above.

    Finally, for all you readers of the TNT and Mr. Larue…

    Mr. Larue has been covering the Mariners since the 1980’s. If you think he wrote this just to generate a “headline”, then you have not read or understood his work over the years.

    Moreover, many of you don’t know, but Mr. Larue was voted the top beat writer in the Country by the Associated Press Sports Editors (100,000 – 250,000 circulation). You don’t get that without being good at what you do. And, there is NO doubt, that Larry Larue is good – make that excellent – at writing and covering the Mariners. Enough said.


  14. RIPKingdome says:

    then release the whole team ’cause they are all losing!

  15. rotoman says: 6) The Griffey clubhouse “leadership” role is not where it was last year.

    My take is that the reason Larry mentioned the sleeping issue in the 1st place is as an example of your point; something KJR & most of KIRO seems to have missed.

  16. wabubba67 says:

    Doesn’t seem as though most people on this thread are looking at the situation objectively due to their endless love affair with Griffey. Look, I like the guy too as he is a part of my coming of age (leaving a small town and beginning college at the same time he joined Seattle), but here are the facts:

    1.) His batting average and overall contributions on the field are no longer assets for the team.
    2.) His bat speed has slowed dramatically, thereby making it extremely unlikely that he will ever be able to make another significant contribution.
    3.) He is not as emotionally valuable or connected to this team as he was last season.
    4.) He makes millions of dollars for this season. And….
    5.) HE IS SLEEPING ON THE JOB that pays him millions of dollars in front of young, up and coming teammates.
    6.) Snydro is back now that his appearance on VH1’s Tool Academy is over. Snydro is a bitter man who has always had a grudge against Larry LaRue and his access to professional sports based on merit….Snydro could have had this lifestyle too, were it not for the fact that he is intellectually bankrupt.

    Don’t shoot the messenger (LaRue) just because you don’t like hearing the truth. His job is to report on the team. Seems as though he had a source and yet another source that confirmed what the first had claimed…professional reporting.

  17. Tacoma Reporters need to STFU

  18. wabubba67 says:

    Yeah, hughw….because what this world needs are reporters that turn a blind eye to a local legend and fail to report accurate, newsworthy stories.

    Instead, why not be proud of LaRue for risking his access to players and relationship with this organization in order to tell us why Griffey was “unavailable” to pinch hit during a crucial moment of a game?

  19. kurtisballard says:

    larry larue is good at recapping a game that everyone watched the day before. who needs that in this day and age? he offers little to no insight, and the once in a blue moon that he does turn in some commentary it does nothing but become a detriment to the team that he is covering.

    i follow sports first and foremost. following sportswriters is just icing on the cake. i don’t want my sportswriters getting in the way of the team that i follow. larry is an insider, and he SHOULD be reporting things that the average fan doesn’t see. i guess he’s trying to make up for lost time with this fiasco? ryan divish has been carrying the load of mariners coverage for larry for 3 years.

    look, i’m sure larry’s a great guy, but he’s just no longer good at what he does. larry is a good writer. he is good at writing about sports, but he can’t cover a team for crap.

  20. kurtisballard says:

    @wabubba67 and larry larue: is don wakamatsu lying when he says that griffey was on the bench during the pinch hitting opportunity in question?

    even larry’s sources only referenced the 5th and 7th innings.

  21. snydro81 says:

    According to the entire Mariners organization, Mr. LaRue is full of it.

    The video evidence also indicates that Mr. LaRue is full of it.

    He did no fact checking. He did not seek out the player in question. He basically failed in his duties as a journalist. Again.

    When will the Tribune learn that Larry LaRue does not meet their standards regarding journalistic integrity?

    Wabubba, and everyone else who defends Larry LaRue,

    There is no doubt that Griffey cannot perform at a reasonable level, and the appropriate thing for him to do is probably to retire gracefully with his class in tact. That said, creating a false story and perpetuating it into the national headlines was the wrong thing to do.

    I hope the team blacklists Mr. LaRue for the remainder of his career. There are good writers out there like Larry Stone, Shannon Drayer, and Kirby Arnold who are very careful not to create this exact type of situation. Thank God for them.

  22. wabubba67 says:

    You mean the same Shannon Drayer that is paid by the Mariners?? I’m sure her journalistic integrity is beyond reproach Seems like a nice woman, pretty to look at, but not exactly objective…she can’t afford to be.

    I’m sure that Stone and Arnold (who are both great, btw) would have ran with this story if they had had the same information as LaRue.

  23. wabubba67 is simply a mindless shmuck who buys into what every media member says, may even be a media member himself. Those who have been around the block a few times don’t really like the media very much but realize that we are reliant on them for certain things. Heaven forbid that after 30 years of being a nobody beat reporter that someone might make up or fail to check his sources in order to break a story that for them looks like it could be a career maker. Heaven forbid that such a person may set their own agenda or allow personal opinions to cloud their judgment. Get a clue, shmuck.

  24. wabubba67 says:

    A player made a claim…another player confirmed the story. That’s journalism…if it turns out to be faulty (extremely unlikely when you examine possible motives), then the problem is with the players who conspired to lie in order to hurt a teammate. Extremely unlikely, but it doesn’t really matter as LaRue fulfilled his obligations as a professional journalist.

    No, I’m not a member of the media…although I was the editor of a high school paper and took a few journalism courses in college. Not an expert, but not devoid of knowledge, either.

  25. Wow, this blog sure woke up!

  26. MarinersManiac says:

    I like the writers at the Tribune……

    But I want to read about the Mariners….. Not Reading a poo flinging fight between Writers and Editors and the Players on the Team.

    Its Childish…ON BOTH SIDES.

    PLEASE Stop turning the Mariners section of your site into unethical and trashy such as what I feel Geoff Baker does.

  27. redsfan243403 says:

    what the hell is the matter with all of you? it’s baseball blasphemy to write an article like this and any one who agrees with it should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. the dude is 41 years old and has had a 1st ballot hall of fame career. put yourself in his shoes; you’re playing for a dead franchise, and the only reason people even bother showing up to the park in seattle is to see you. it sounds nice….if you’re a stud, but for an older guy who is probably 25% of what he used to be, it’s a lot of pressure that a guy of his age doesn’t need. the man has a family. o, how quickly we forget that baseball in seatlle wouldn’t even exist if not for griffey. who cares that he didn’t break the home run record and ended up getting hurt throughout the 2nd half of his career? you think he wanted to be hurt and miss games? this is rediculous, and all of you bashing griffey need to remember what he did because even if he was in his prime, the mariners are such crap that it wouldn’t really make a difference. go hate on a-rod, and randy johnson, they left for more $. but don’t you dare hate on griffey

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