I 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.
The Miami Marlins, despite not having technically fired Dan Jennings, are actively interviewing for a new manager. Their latest target is a familiar name: Larry Bowa.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on the coaching staff shakeup with the Phillies and, in the course of it, notes that the Marlins have asked and have been granted permission to interview Bowa, who is currently the Phillies’ bench coach. He has been offered a contract for 2016 by the Phillies, but he has never made a secret of his desire to manage again and has interviewed a few times over the years. Bowa, of course, managed the Padres in 1987 and 1988 and managed the Phillies from 2001 into the 2004 season.
As recently as a year ago it seemed unlikely that Bowa would get another look for a top job anyplace, what with baseball’s seeming eschewing of the crusty and feisty old managerial types in favor of young, inexperienced managers who had just recently retired from playing. But given how poorly that’s gone for most clubs — the Marlins included with Mike Redmond — this could be a winter in which we see a bunch of those old salty types returning.
There was some hockey person last week arguing about how it was silly or untoward for baseball teams to celebrate clinching wild cards or other, less-than-championship-level accomplishments. Calling it bush league or lacking in act-like-you’ve-been-thereness or what have you. I can only imagine what he’d say about the Astros celebrating with champagne following (a) winning a wild card; and (b) losing the game which immediately preceded the celebration.
But screw him. Seriously.
I used to think that way. Indeed, if you search the HBT archives I’m sure there’s a post or two in which I disapprove of teams engaging in multiple champagne celebrations. But I was wrong about that and I’ve changed my mind on the matter over the past year or too. And on some other matters as well, all for the same reason: athletes are people just like us, not some avatars for our machismo and our fantasies. They’re people who have spent their entire lives devoted to their calling and do it under a lot of pressure and in the face of a lot of criticism and expectations from others. Why on Earth would anyone deny them their happiness upon the realization of an accomplishment?
This is even more true if you’re one of those misguided souls who erroneously believe that sports actually is separate from real life and believe them to be supremely and impossibly important. Even if you’re right — and you’re not — wouldn’t that give the athletes an even greater incentive to celebrate accomplishments? Funny how those people who who act as if sports is life and death would deny athletes their joy for defying death, as it were.
My view on the matter now is that if a guy hits a homer he should be able to celebrate it. If a pitcher strikes a guy out, he should be able to celebrate it. If a team makes the playoffs, no matter how low their seed and no matter the manner in which the accomplishment is achieved short of their competitors going down in a plane crash, they should be able to celebrate if they so choose.
So enjoy your hangovers this morning, Houston Astros.