What They're Saying About Ken Griffey's retirement

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Griffey hat on backwards.jpgI like eulogies — for careers and lives — that are a little on the brutally yet respectfully honest side. Outside of Rob Neyer — who always delivers at times like these — I’m not guessing we’ll get a ton of that when it comes to the Kid, but I can live with it.  Here’s what people are saying thus far:

  • Rob Neyer: “He was a great player. No question about that. But for many years, he
    wasn’t quite the player people thought he was, or was supposed
    to be. In retrospect, did Griffey really deserve his spot on the
    All-Century Team? Did he really deserve to win 10 Gold Glove Awards? Did
    he really save baseball in Seattle? Tomorrow, it will be said
    that Griffey was the best player of his era who didn’t use steroids. Was
    he really, though? . . . Maybe he wasn’t as good as he could have been. But he was better than
    almost everyone else.”
  • Lookout Landing: “Ken Griffey Junior is why I am a baseball fan. As kids growing up, we
    all have potential. They tell us we are the future. Those of us who were
    baseball fans in Seattle in the late 80s and early 90s were also
    watching the future unfold before us on the diamond . . . He was out there playing the game and having fun,
    doing things adults never thought possible, perhaps just because he
    didn’t know it was impossible in the first place.
  • U.S.S. Mariner: Did he stick around too long? Yes, of course. But the slide may keep
    some fans from remembering just how amazing Griffey was in the mid-90s . . . he made baseball here an absolute joy to watch for many years, and
    that’s enough for me.
  • Larry Stone, Seattle Times: “[W]e will all remember a player who at his best provided a combination of
    youthful exuberance and epic skill that made him a bonafide legend.”
  • OMG Reds: “It will probably take a while to sink in, but I’m sure a lot of us feel
    that a piece of our childhood is now gone.”

I presume that more big name mainstream columnists will come online later to weigh in. The stuff I hope they stay away from, but which I doubt they will, is the dead-certain view that Ken Griffey Jr. “played clean” or whatever. I hate that narrative.

Why? Partially because we have no way of knowing if it was true. But mostly because it makes him out to be some sort of special case.  Griffey was one of the best players ever. Not just one of the best “clean” players ever.  Let’s just celebrate him for what he was and is, not as some tool of triangulation steroid politics.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.