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.”
- Geoff Baker, Seattle Times: This isn’t a quote. Just go here and see the very, very long Griffey-centric rewrite of the lyrics to “American Pie” that Baker reprints. I’ll withhold judgment out of respect for, well, just about everyone involved.
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.