It’s Not The Fact That He Was Asleep

Dave · May 10, 2010 at 11:37 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Interesting day, especially for those with deep interests in the sleep patterns of sports stars. I can’t wait until someone declares it the “Nap Heard Round The World”. In a lot of ways, this whole story is funny. In other ways, it reveals what everyone knows deep down inside.

It’s not the fact that Junior was asleep on Saturday night that matters. If he was hitting .380, it would be the source of good natured jokes, and people would marvel at the greatness of a guy who could hit well while also apparently lacking the energy to watch his teammates play. If the team was winning, it would be written off as a non-story. In fact, I’d guess that if the team was winning, the two players who talked to LaRue never mention the incident, and it never sees the light of day. This is only a story because Griffey is not hitting and the team is not winning.

But he’s not hitting, and they’re not winning, and the fact that two teammates would talk to a reporter about Junior being asleep during a game is perhaps the more telling aspect of this story. If Griffey really commanded the respect of the entire clubhouse, and they loved having him around, no one talks about this to a member of the media. But they did, and that they were willing to bring this up to someone who they had to suspect would write about it suggests that perhaps Griffey’s influence in the clubhouse either isn’t as great as some would suggest, or perhaps more likely, that it only matters while a player is producing.

We’ve all played with that guy who tries really hard to be a leader because he likes to hear himself talk, but he doesn’t have the skills to back it up. In basketball, this guy always tries to run the offense and tell you where to go, but he ends up just jacking up an off-balance 18 foot fade away that barely catches rim. You know that guy – he’s at every gym, annoying the hell out of everyone. People hate that guy, because he doesn’t realize that he’s the reason the team is losing, even as he orders everyone else around. Everyone wants that guy to either show enough self-awareness to realize that he’s terrible or shut up.

That guy can’t be a leader, because he’s just not good enough, and no one respects anything he says because he can’t play. Junior is now that guy. While they may laugh at the pranks and the tickling, the other 24 guys on this roster are all extremely competitive players who badly want to win, and they’ve had a front row seat for the “Griffey Is Done 2010 Tour”. And when he’s constantly grounding out to second base or waving badly at change-ups in the dirt, he loses the credibility to tell anyone else what they’re doing wrong. His ability to lead the team is compromised by the fact that these guys realize he probably shouldn’t be on it. And that’s my guess for why a couple of guys were willing to talk to LaRue about the fact that he was sleeping during a game.

I don’t think the nap really matters. I don’t think the guys on the team are all that upset that he wasn’t available to pinch hit the other night. My guess is that most of them probably didn’t want him hitting in that situation anyway, so maybe deep down, they feel like he did them a favor. But I think there’s a reason that this became a story in the first place – it’s that everyone involved with this tragic experiment realizes it’s not working and it’s not going to work. The Mariners brought Griffey in to be an influence in the clubhouse, but you can only lead as long as you can back up your words on the field and play at a minimum level to where you’re not actively hurting the team.

Griffey can’t do that anymore. He’s a drain on the team’s chances of winning, and the guys on the team know it. They might like his personality, but I think that, deep down, they don’t really want him as their teammate. Not anymore. They might enjoy playing cards with him, but at the end of the day, they want a DH who can hit.

This story doesn’t get written about a clubhouse leader who really commands respect. That this story got written suggests to me that Junior is not that guy, and if that’s true, he has nothing left to offer this organization. It’s time. Hang them up, Junior.


131 Responses to “It’s Not The Fact That He Was Asleep”

  1. Steve T on May 11th, 2010 2:32 pm

    If it takes a shitstorm to get him off the damn team, then let’s have a shitstorm.

  2. seattleslew on May 11th, 2010 2:36 pm

    The differences and similarities between cricket and baseball are endlessly fascinating. They’re the only two sports where the defense controls the ball, for starters. A cricket ball is just a teensy bit smaller and a teensy bit heavier than a baseball, and the stitches go round the circumference, not the loopy baseball pattern.

    I still find baseball more interesting to watch for more than about a half-hour or so, but you have to like a sport where the shortstop-equivalent is called “silly mid-on” or “silly mid-off” and stands about ten feet away from a guy smacking a hard ball with a huge willow bat.

    One of my lifelong dreams is seeing some pro baseball players and cricketers get together and try out each other’s games a little. I’d love to see Ponting or Tendulkar take some cuts against King Felix, or Pujols trying to get wood on a googly.

    Except that an English girls game called Rounders is the root of modern American baseball.

  3. eponymous coward on May 11th, 2010 3:05 pm

    This is a shit sandwich. But if Jack Z has better bread he would have brought it to the picnic by now. But he doesn’t, and he hasn’t been able to trade for a superior turdwich.

    Bunk. Griffey doesn’t belong on a MLB team except by dint of the name that’s on his driver’s license. The M’s could replace him out of AAA and get a better player out of the deal.

    And yes, that means they have to be ruthless and tell him “OK, we can DL you for suckitis until September, and give you your farewell tour then, or we can give you your DFA now. Your call.” You know what? I’m fine with that. What, he’s going to say they weren’t being fair about this?

    Edgar retired. Griffey has not….

    I’m sure some other club will be racing to pick up a 40 year old DH who looks this bad if the M’s DFA him. Brian Goldberg better get extra minutes for his cell phone.

  4. Ben Zimmerman on May 11th, 2010 3:07 pm

    Interesting tweets from Ken Rosenthal, who is in Baltimore. He is quoting Sweeney:

    Sweeney called #Mariners’ meeting: “We will support and fight and take a bullet for Ken Griffey Jr. if we have to. He’s our teammate…”

    “Nothing is going to divide this clubhouse, especially a makeshift article made up of lies…”

    “We don’t think there are two players who said that (about Griffey sleeping). I challenged everyone in that room – if they said that to …

    “…stand up and fight me. No one stood up.”

  5. smb on May 11th, 2010 3:10 pm

    That’s a shame, if true. Had someone, anyone, stood up and kicked Sweeney’s ass, they would have had a fan for life right here.

  6. Paul L on May 11th, 2010 3:11 pm

    Joe Posnanski on Junior.

    People still love the guy.

  7. pgreyy on May 11th, 2010 3:16 pm

    …and the end result of all of this is that Sweeney and Griffey are now more entrenched than ever.


  8. CCW on May 11th, 2010 3:20 pm

    I blame Junior for this. He ought to have hung them up when he had the chance to do so with dignity. Instead, he stayed and stayed until his luck ran out. He almost forced something bad to happen. The longer his absolute suckiness as a ballplayer persisted, the greater became the chance of the organization, or the media, or his teammates, or some combination of the above, saying or doing something negative. And it happened. Not surprising, really.

    I know that Wak and Jack Z bear some blame for letting it come to this, but they were in the tough position of inheriting Seattle’s relationship with its biggest sports icon. In a relationship like the that, the icon is the one with all the leverage. I think Griffey bears most of the blame.

  9. djw on May 11th, 2010 3:24 pm

    But if Jack Z has better bread he would have brought it to the picnic by now. But he doesn’t, and he hasn’t been able to trade for a superior turdwich.

    This is absurd. For one, we have no idea if he’s been trying to trade for a player to replace Sweeney/Griffey or not. But more importantly, we have better options currently in the organization. DHing Bradley and playing Saunders/Langerhans clearly improves the team. Making Carp a DH clearly improves the team. A smart trade for a real and productive DH would be better, of course, but there are already better options in-house.

  10. Paul L on May 11th, 2010 3:28 pm

    To all the people blaming Jr for not hanging it up: honestly, how often does that happen?

    Everyone keeps on bringing up Mike Schmidt. The fact that that was 40yrs might be an indication that it’s pretty rare.

    I’d love for him to do it on his own (and if he did, he’d be respected for it), but it’s unlikely.

    Best case, he waits until Memorial Day-ish to announce that the June 8th (or whatever day it is around that time) Jr Bobblehead Night will be his last night, at which point he’ll retire.

    Next “best” case, imo, is that he gets released around Memorial Day.

    Next, he stays the year and leaves with everyone grumbling about how he should have left earlier.

    Last, again just imo, is that he gets seriously injured and is forced into retirement, ala Nolan Ryan.

    I think the first or second possibilities are pretty likely.

  11. Griffin Cooper on May 11th, 2010 3:38 pm

    This is really well said.

  12. joser on May 11th, 2010 3:59 pm

    I predict our Right Honorable Mr Dave Cameron will have his job(s) longer than the British one.

    I was kidding about the conspiracy theory… Honestly, I think we will find that LaRue acted alone. : )

    With a quote from a magic source!

    So now we know where in the clubhouse Junior takes his naps: walk in the door, then go back and to the left.

  13. diderot on May 11th, 2010 4:02 pm

    I think I just heard Blowers say that Griffey had ‘agreed’ to be moved to the #7 hole.
    Once again, we’re seeing more evidence of who really runs the team.

  14. benthic on May 11th, 2010 4:13 pm

    What about the fact that video of the Rob Johnson at bat in question shows Griffey on the railing watching. For a guy supposedly sleeping in the clubhouse, he’s looking pretty awake and available. (And LaRue is looking like he didn’t check his facts before reporting.)

    I’m not saying Griffey is the right choice at DH, but this sleeping story appears to be demonstrably false.

  15. Steve T on May 11th, 2010 5:21 pm

    Except that an English girls game called Rounders is the root of modern American baseball.

    Except that baseball is older than rounders, as that link you posted says. The origin of the various bat-and-ball games is complex, but it is safest to say that all of the ones that are currently played are derived from common ancestors.

    Saying “rounders is the root of baseball” is about as accurate as saying “humans evolved from chimpanzees”.

  16. Steve T on May 11th, 2010 5:27 pm

    I don’t give a crap who’s to blame. What does blame have to do with anything? I just want Junior to go away and not come back, that’s all. I don’t care if he was sleeping or not; I don’t care what Larry LaRue said, or Don Wak said, or Griffey said. I just want to see a semi-credible major league hitter come to bat in the spot that Griffey is now occupying.

    Mike Schmidt? He’s 60 years old. Maybe he can still hit; give him a call. He can’t be worse than Griffey. HE’S KILLING THIS TEAM.

    No, he’s not the only one, but you can start there.

  17. scott19 on May 11th, 2010 5:32 pm

    Mike Schmidt? He’s 60 years old. Maybe he can still hit; give him a call. He can’t be worse than Griffey.

    Or, while we’re on subject of guys who just turned 60, I wonder if Julio Franco’s still trying to make a comeback in the indy leagues somewhere?

  18. Steve T on May 11th, 2010 5:38 pm

    Ooh, if Franco comes back, I’m officially “not old” again, since you’re not old if there are any major leaguers older than you. Franco was the last one.

  19. G-Man on May 11th, 2010 5:45 pm

    On the day Griffey was traded to the Reds, Felix Hernandez was 13 years old.

    As of that date, these current teammates had played in MLB: Mike Sweeney.

    The point being, it is harder for Jr. to command the respect of players who weren’t there for his days of glory.

    I remember James Worthy’s last days in the NBA. He was playing little, and they said his young teammates were derisively calling him “Old Man”.

    IIRC, he retired midseason.

  20. Molasseshead on May 11th, 2010 6:09 pm

    On that day in 1995 when Griffey slid home to beat the Yankees in Game 5 of the Divisonal Playoffs I was 8 years old.

    You didn’t have to be playing in the MLB at that time to respect him. Anyone who has played or even enjoyed baseball over the last 2 decades knows and respects Griffey for what he was in his glory days.

    That’s an awful argument.

  21. Steve T on May 11th, 2010 8:17 pm

    SCA-rew nineteen ninety-five. I was sick of hearing about nineteen ninety-five TEN YEARS AGO. We didn’t win jack that year, or any year since. Two thousand one is the one I remember fondly. Yes, yes, the Yankees, that’s all very nice. But everyone who played then is GONE NOW. And so should be Griffey.

    He CAN’T PLAY BASEBALL. Watching him hit is like watching porn featuring an eighty-year-old woman.

  22. bhdollman on May 11th, 2010 10:26 pm

    I just wanna say that I support Griffey 100% and as a loyal Mariner fan have his back. I hate reading all this negative talk about Griffey. Hes an icon and the fans should not be singling him out. Griffey is an emotional player and I am sure reading all this “he sucks” stuff is probably tearing him up. Give the guy a break he deserves that. We are paying Figgins a hell of a lot more money and he is hitting worse than Jr. Maybe if we showed some more support for Griffey it would help him turns things around.

  23. eponymous coward on May 11th, 2010 11:16 pm

    Yes, fan support has been known to make a player who has been a bad player for 5 years better.

  24. PBS on May 11th, 2010 11:17 pm

    Man, the season is 6 weeks old and you guys want to run him out of town. He’s not hitting, but then again, neither is anyone else…

    Ken Griffey Jr is the greatest Mariner ever, bar none. Show a little respect, it’s really sad to see everybody turn their back on him. It’s not like he’s the first legend to go out with a whimper. Doesn’t say much about us as fans… I think even Yankees fans would have more respect for one of their greats.

    If you and Steve Kelley agree on something, you might want to re-think your position.

  25. PADJ on May 11th, 2010 11:20 pm

    Is Griffey an icon? Yes. Will it be a PR hassle if the team DFA’s him? Absolutely. But what he has accomplished in the past doesn’t help him nor the team in 2010. I would bet that if the team starts winning some games and generally performing better, then that makes the PR less of an issue.

    I think this sleeping story is more a symptom of a frustrated club. Whether Griffey should leave should not be debated because he may have been asleep during a game. It should be debated on the basis of what he brings to the on field performance of the team this year. Sad to say, but I think Dave is right and it’s time for Griffey to go…

    …right after Sweeney… 🙂

  26. bhdollman on May 11th, 2010 11:34 pm

    Couldn’t agree more PBS.

  27. eponymous coward on May 12th, 2010 12:35 am

    Show a little respect

    I’d show respect if he, like Edgar, knew when it was time to hang ’em up. Edgar decided to go out in 2004 when it was clear his skills were going downhill. Junior had a very similar year in 2009 as a DH (if anything, Edgar had a BETTER year), and decided not to, and now is helping cost the team wins.

    Unlike some people, my calendar goes past 1995.

  28. pinball1973 on May 12th, 2010 12:38 am

    So Sweeney really challenged the “rats” (e.g. dissatisfied, winning-driven young players who clearly have great respect for who KG was) to a fight?

    Well, any respect I had for Sweeney certainly just went straight to the compost heap. For good. Give him his well-earned ticket to baseball-Palookaville. And make sure the door is slammed hard enough to hit him square on his ass on the way out.

    If someone in my workplace said something like that, I would first attempt to humorously get them to cool it the #### down, even if I was on their side.
    If they insisted they were not only serious but determined to play the self-righteous avenging #######, I would have to stand up and ask him to try and swing away. Hopefully they wouldn’t be as powerfully built as Sweeney, though.

    #### this kind of “being a man”. And pardon my need for repeated obscenities in this case.

    P.s. The Junior defenders here, with one exception, make me sick. He was in the wrong, and it mattered only because he, as a team leader, has held back the team.
    Letting him go now, or him choosing to retire, stinks. But check out any chat about this: he’s made himself a laughing-stock.

  29. olof on May 12th, 2010 12:51 am

    Perhaps at least we can have fun with it: may be we can get folks to turn up for Ken Griffey Jr. Sleep Mask Night at Safeco Field:

  30. The Great Greg Pirkl on May 12th, 2010 1:38 am

    Just a thought, I think the M’s missed out on a great opportunity the other day when they fired the hitting coach. I think they should have introduced Griffey and Sweeney as co-hitting and hugging coaches. Its not like the hitting coach contributes that much to the team anyways. This way they could remain with the team and actually CONTRIBUTE something as opposed to “punting” every at bat they take. Seriously though it has been refreshing seeing Langerhans, Jo Wilson and Saunders contribute the last few games. I think it shows that they have a hunger to contribute and the M’s need to take note and give us more of that.

  31. Steve T on May 12th, 2010 11:08 am

    Turn things around? TURN THINGS AROUND? What planet are you on?

    Face facts: Ken Griffey sucks.

    He’s the worst player in baseball. He might be the worst player in the HISTORY OF BASEBALL. He hits worse than the average American League pitcher, but he can’t pitch. He can’t run. He can’t field. He can’t do ANYTHING. HE CAN’T PLAY BASEBALL.

    He hasn’t been a consistently good hitter for a decade. In Cincinnati, he had his ups and downs, and had some decent production once or twice, but never consistently. Since then, he has sucked donkey balls, and he’s sucking the whole donkey now.

    I seriously do not understand how anyone could not see that it’s time for him to go.

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