Tagged: Ken Griffey

RSBS Sits Down with Ken Griffey, Sr.

ken griffey sr.jpg“I feel good.”

And for Ken Griffey, Sr., a man who just four years ago was diagnosed with prostate cancer, this is definitely great news. 

Fully recovered and feeling strong, the elder Griffey has joined other sport legends Len Dawson, Rod Woodson, Jim Kelly and (one of my personal favorites) Ozzie Smith in the Depend Campaign to End Prostate Cancer, a movement which educates the public on this important men’s health issue.

By sharing his own personal story, Griffey, Sr. hopes to help quell this potentially devastating disease.  “I was diagnosed early.  To me, that’s the most important thing: to get diagnosed early.  Because then there’s treatment and it’s pretty much curable.”

Griffey was fortunate enough to know this before he was diagnosed, so the fight against the disease began long before he actually acquired it.

“My doctor explained to me that I was a strong candidate for it because of the fact that it was in my family.  I had four uncles that passed from prostate cancer.  My doctor was very cautious about it, making sure that with each physical I was tested for it.”

Today, not only is Griffey, Sr. spreading the message against prostate cancer, he’s also living life to the fullest, working every day as the hitting coach for the minor league Dayton Dragons, and reflecting on his own illustrious Major League career.

“Getting the opportunity to play with Junior, hitting the back-to-back homeruns with Junior, being world champions with the Cincinnati Reds… those are the major highlights of my career.”

In light of his son’s recent retirement from baseball, when asked about how long it took for Senior to transition he replied: “It didn’t take me long!”

Of course, Senior’s was a decision forced by injury.  “For Junior, it was a decision based on the fact that he wasn’t getting the opportunity to play.  He sat out for ten games or something like that.  We had talked about it last winter.  We discussed it.  And I think he felt pretty good about the idea of coming home to be with the family.”

And as one legend leaves the game, a new sensation potentially takes his place in Stephen Strasburg.  Not since Ken Griffey, Jr. came up in 1989 has there been more buzz about a rookie phenom than there is right now about Strasburg.

“Yeah, that’s exactly right.  When Junior came into the league, everyone wanted to see him play.”

Did they ever.  One would have to be from another planet to not know how colossally good Junior’s career was, how he became an idol for the masses, how he used class and composure to solidify his future place in the Hall of Fame.

Indeed, Strasburg has a long way to go.  But Ken Griffey, Sr. does see the potential: “From what I’ve seen, he has a tremendous career ahead of him… if he stays healthy.”

Then, with a deep-hearted chuckle reminiscent of one who has overcome adversity and seen baseball legends come and go, Senior said:

“I’ve seen him on T.V.  But I couldn’t tell you much about how he pitches unless I face him.”

Ken Griffey, Sr. has faced an obstacle or two before.  And I’m pretty sure that if he strapped on the cleats today, he’d still have plenty of fight in him. 

For more information on how you can join Ken Griffey, Sr. in the fight against prostate cancer, please visit the Depend website.

(by Jeffery Lung)

– – –

Special thanks to Kristin Adams from Taylor PR for arranging the interview with Ken Griffey Sr.

This was the first time I ever spoke to a baseball legend on the phone, so to say I was excited about it doesn’t quite relay just how excited I was.  Think Erin-Andrews-in-my-living room-like excited. 

🙂

Identity Crisis

question_mark.jpgListen up, Major League Baseball.  I love you.  I really do; and sometimes being in love means having to bring you back down to earth, to be horribly blunt and to shower you with lots of smack (the slang, not the drug, though sometimes the drug seems like a better option in extreme cases, like when you overflow my inbox with crap I don’t want and never asked for).

MLB, you are not the NFL.  You are not the NBA.  You are MLB.

So while I commend you for trying to drum up interest in something — the first year player draft — that is, on the surface, boring and otherwise three to four years removed (if that) from the current game, I must ask you to please snap out of it

For the record, I do not care about the NFL and NBA drafts either, but I can certainly see why people do.  If you are a basketball and/or football fan, you have seen the potential draftees come up through the highly competitive elite forces of the NCAA.  Bowl games are slammed down your throat.  March Madness is so mad that it doesn’t end until April.  You know the players.  You’ve seen their talents.  You hope your pro team gets a shot at their services.

In contrast, the potential baseball draftees are as familiar to us fans as is a logical, amicable, non-infuriating Ann Coulter.  In the NFL and NBA, if you get drafted, your chances of seeing playing time at the top are almost a given, while most of the guys drafted in the MLB draft will never put on a big league uniform.  Sure, your Griffeys, A-Rods and Verlanders — guys who go in the first round or two — will most likely make it; but the majority of the rest will wallow away in the minor leagues, battle disillusionment, come to grips with not being good enough and before you know it they’re faxing TPS reports behind a desk while reading RSBS for giggles.

So as MLB pats itself on its self-aggrandizing back about televising this overblown shindig so they can sell lots of advertising to companies gullible enough to think that it will actually rival that of its football and basketball brethren, you can be sure that I will be spending my time wisely.  Dear readers, I advise you to do the same; and just in case you can’t think of anything better to do, here are some suggestions:

  • Remember, question and lament the hype of Pete Incaviglia
  • Write hate-mail to Rush Limbaugh and sign it “Jesus”
  • Clone Chris Carpenter
  • Come up with clever gimmicks to sell your new religion start-up (worked for me!)
  • Or, God forbid, watch an actual Major League Baseball game with real-life Major Leaguers

pete incaviglia.jpgIndeed, that is but a short list of things I will be doing instead of watching your draft, MLB.  I will not be listening to Harold Reynolds start every sentence with “Now, here’s a guy…” nor will I sing praises of your precious college phenom Stephen Strasburg when he is — as you already told me he would be — drafted in the first round.  I’ll wait until he collects the league minimum $400K for that.

I know a poser when I see one and it is because I love you, MLB, that I have to call you one to your face.  Go ahead and hate me ‘cuz I’m critical of your identity crisis, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

What Goes Around, Comes Around

As a born and bred Michigander, I know better than most that what goes around, comes around. The Pistons win it all a couple times in a row and then Michael Jordan comes along. Tigers go to the World Series one year and find themselves finishing behind the Royals two years later. And the Lions? Well, let’s not even start with that.

But sometimes going around and coming around can be a good thing. Griffey starts off with the Mariners and now he comes back to the Mariners. Cecil Fielder belts some home runs and now Prince Fielder (occasionally) does the same. However, I think I found something that epitomizes the upside of what goes around, comes around.

Happy Friday! Hope I didn’t just blow your mind.

-A

Credits:
-Video via The Daily Dish

The Filibuster

Despite the late-inning dramatics and clutch hitting by Team America,
the World Baseball Classic will be especially notable to MLB managers
because of the rash of injuries that has hit the players. With
important team leaders like Chipper Jones, Kevin Youkilis and Ryan
Braun suffering injuries, how do you think this will effect teams’
decisions to let their players participate next time around?

— Allen
__________________________________________

tom cruise oprah.jpgA wise woman (my mother) once said, “Jeff, nobody’s perfect. Tom Cruise comes close but just look at how screwed up he is.  Still, Tom is about as close as you can get.”

The World Baseball Classic, still in its infancy, is similar in that it has yet to find the perfect balance of entertainment and logic.  We, the viewers, cannot expect it to be the perfect international tournament it aims to be — not yet at least.

There are naysayers.  There are those who feel the Classic is a colossal waste of time.  There are general managers and agents and players and pundits who see it as a liability more than an asset.  And I understand their points of view.

theo epstein.jpgIf I were Omar Minaya or Theo Epstein or Frank Wren and I was forced to watch my best players risk injury in the name of a “friendly” tournament with seemingly zero tangible gain, I guess I would be a little ticked off too.  But I believe the World Baseball Classic is more than just a King Bud money machine meant to get more people interested in Major League Baseball around the world.  To me, it is a showcase of the most talented players on the planet: a baseball bravura boasting a playoff-like atmosphere during the most boring weeks of spring training. 

And whether ballplayers are playing in the WBC or in Jupiter, Florida or with their kids at home, guys are going to get hurt.

guitar hero.jpgJust ask Joel Zumaya about his Guitar Hero hangup.

Or just ask Aaron Boone about his penchant for pickup basketball.

Or just ask Ken Griffey, Jr. about wrestling with his children.

And while the easy way out is to say let us put an end to this World Baseball Classic for good and focus on the regular season, players are still going to find ways to injure themselves on and off the field.  Personally, I would rather see a guy get hurt for his country than a video game.

The WBC only happens every few years, folks.  Eventually, the kinks will be worked out.  In the meantime, the foreseen benefits of firing up an entire baseball-following planet are far and beyond more plentiful than the occasional injury risks inherited by players, teams and front offices.

The truth is: baseball (yet again) was light years behind the rest of sports in not having an authentic international forum.  And while the rewards of the Classic won’t be seen for another twenty years or so when little Chen Jianguo and Mario Perugino and Ned van Flanders are all grown up and starting superstars in the Majors, I think we all owe it to the world to give this tournament a chance — and most of all, to enjoy it.

But just to be safe, we should all continue to pray to the baseball gods that our team’s best players escape injury free and refrain from jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Filibuster

Griffey's catch.jpgKen Griffey, Jr. found his way back to Seattle last week despite his
obvious decline in market value.  What does it say about a team when
its best shot at putting fans in the seats is to sign a dilapidated
hero of old on the cheap?  Will this be a trend?  And ultimately, Is it
fair to the fans?

–Jeff

_________________________________

Dilapidated hero of old? I don’t remember you saying that when Griffey was playing for the White Sox last season. In fact, if I remember correctly, you were pretty excited about it. That statement is more than silly. It’s ignorant.

Here’s the deal, Mr. Lung. The Mariners are terrible. They lost more than 100 hundred games last year. But they’re also a proud franchise and a franchise that was built by that “dilapidated hero of old” that they just signed. This signing isn’t about turning the franchise around this season or building a playoff team around Junior. It’s about restoring some pride to the franchise and letting Griffey play his probable last season back where he began. It’s good for the team, it’s good for the fans and it’s good for Junior.

Now, if you want to look at the signing from a pragmatic standpoint, it still makes sense. After all the problems Griffey has had physically, he’s probably not going to be playing 162 games in the outfield. He’s also not the same player defensively that he was while playing with the Mariners back in the day. And that’s a liability in the National League. It’s the same problem the Giants ran into with Barry Bonds (along with, well, you know, that “other” problem). It didn’t make sense for Griffey to go to the Braves.

But Junior back in Seattle? That makes sense. When he’s healthy, he adds depth to their outfield and even when he’s not able to go at full speed, you can still include his bat in the DH spot. Yes, you’re right. Junior is not the same player that we grew up watching. But he’s still a formidable threat and it’s a win-win situation for the Mariners.

Now, as for your other question, about this being a trend for players to return to the teams they started off with, I don’t know if it is but I can think of worse things. It makes sense that Griffey should end his career in a Seattle uniform. It would make sense for Smoltz and Glavine to end their careers in Atlanta. It’s how we know them and it’s where they belong. I’m sure that if the Cards ever traded Pujols away, you’d still want him back, even if he wasn’t in MVP form. In many ways, free agency has gutted baseball but every once in awhile it works out in our favor. This is one of those times.

-A

Junior’s Legacy

Griffey's catch.jpgThe NY Times has a great piece today about guys playing in the majors now who grew up admiring Ken Griffey, Jr. I have to admit, even though there was never any danger of me making it to the majors, I feel the same way about the guy. I still have his Topps rookie card somewhere at my parents’ house and I remember going to see him play at old Tiger Stadium when he was with the Mariners. Actually, even though I was (and always will be) a huge Tigers fan, I was almost more excited about watching Griffey patrol center field that day than I was about seeing the Tigers’ cast of has-beens and never-weres. This was the 90’s after all, and there wasn’t much good happening at the corner of Kaline and Trumbull. And even though I know he’ll probably go down with some sort of injury part way through the season, I’d love to see the Tigers pick him up and unload Sheffield. Griffey at DH sporting an old English “D” on his ballcap? Yes, please!

-A

Chaos A.D.

chaos.jpgHold on to your money-makers, dear readers… this is gonna be a thrashing ride reminiscent of Clint Malarchuk’s 1989 throat-slashing — the first and only image on television that made me actually throw up. 

Bleh.

Verily, NBC gave her demonic highness, Ann Coulter, the greatest public relations gift in the history of the human race by banning her for life from their network and all like-minded lefty-linked affiliates.  This decision was made in lieu of Coulter’s new book which attacks the media as being a farcical, one-sided (left), pretentious boys club incapable of stomaching any of her ranting diatribes, most of which we learned folks have grown to just call ‘crap’.  Strongly suggestive of fecal matter or not, Ms. Coulter is still a US American, one who is astutely literate in the land of fantasy writing and one who has the same exact rights that all of us share in making our voice and our opinions known.  Nothing good can come from this.  She’s going to run with it ad nauseum and in this case, NBC clearly proved the exact point she’s been trying to make all along.

And it might not make me want to vomit as much as the above, but Pat Burrell is now a Tampa Bay Ray and in doing so virtually shuts the door on my boyhood hero, Ken Griffey, Jr. ever getting another shot in the playoffs.  Having shored up their veteran/DH hitting needs, I doubt the Rays will have much interest in Junior now.  In my mind, this can only mean he’ll likely end up with that cyclical hell-hole of a franchise known as the Seattle Mariners (for nostalgia’s sake — yack).  Sorry, Junior.  I really am.

And just as sure as I was that the Democrats’ insatiable desire for unwanted negative attention had already met Biblical proportions, it got worse when Rod Blagojevich appointee and prophetic puppet, Roland Burris, said he was the junior Illinois senator because “the Lord has ordained” him.  How come the Lord is always talking to everyone except me? 

Maybe he’s been talking to Al Franken too.  No matter what, the Minnesota senatorial feud will be nothing short of a long, drawn-out, party-dividing legal and social battle that will only make us hate politicians that much more, if that’s even possible… wait, yeah… yeah it is… because there’s still this guy:

bill richardson.JPGOh and yeah, there’s also still this guy:

rod blagojevich smiling.jpgAnd of course his team is just one passing physical away from putting another ice pick in my chest and signing Milton Bradley to a three-year deal.  In essence, the Cubs continue to get better, continue to open their change purse, continue to be savvy in all their dealings.

Note to John Mozeliak: You might want to consider waking the hell up!

And no, Mr. Mozeliak, I do not consider your signing of left-handed bullpen scrub Royce Ring, who finished 2008 with an ERA higher than Method Man and Redman on a Saturday night backstage (his ERA was 8.46), to be a “savvy” move.

(*insert dramatic pause while I take the time to puke… again.)

Ahem.

So what do I do when the world around me crumbles like Amy Winehouse during happy hour?

I tune into the wondrous world that is Red State Blue State

But, folks, it ain’t always pretty.  And it’s painfully obvious to anyone with a remedial math education that whether I’m younger by twelve years or twelve days or twelve hours than my cooped-up colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, I am and always will be younger than he, and more eloquent, and better at baseball.  That’s just the hard, undeniable truth.

And yes, just as Mr. Krause stated in his low-blow, I did indeed spend some quality years without a steady girlfriend.  This I cannot deny.  But to call me out on the transgressions of the past without expecting a wicked rebuttal is quite juvenile. 

Alas!  Mr. Krause has long been the New York Yankees of meaningful romantic relationships: he was always in one, always spending too much money, always on top (so I hear).

Equally, I have long been the Tampa Bay Rays: never actually in the race, always flirting with free-agent wh0res who weren’t worth the inflated dollars, always on the bottom (cuz that’s just how I roll).

But (and I think we can all see where this is going here) like all facets in the grand scheme of life, balance ultimately plays a most crucial role.  And nowadays it’s pretty apparent that I’m on top (with a hot girlfriend) while Mr. Krause wallows in the despair that is not making the “playoffs” for the first time since 1993.  Don’t worry, Al, I’m sure they seat parties of one on Valentine’s Day somewhere in the nation’s capital.  If not, you can always give Eliot Spitzer a call.  I’m sure he knows some “people”.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy