Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wake Up, Junior

      By David Newhan

      “The Rock,” once said, “know your role!”

      Surely. I do.

     Much like Dallas Braden was something of a nobody to A-Rod (at least before Braden's perfect game on Mother’s Day ), I suppose I am the same to Ken Griffey Jr.

      I know he couldn’t care less about David Newhan or worry about what he has to say.  I may not be a future first ballot hall of famer, however, I was always ready and eager to play when called on, and I say, "Please, Griff, don’t go out like this."

     It was reported that a couple of Jr.’s  Seattle teammates ratted him out and told the media that his manager Don Wakamatsu couldn’t use him in a pinch hit role last week due to the fact that Griffey was back in the clubhouse in a deep sleep. Maybe, after so many years in the game, he has become like a huge portion of baseball  fans and has the natural inclination to take a nap after battling through the often slow pace of major league games. Maybe, umpire Joe West, with his recent comments about the embarrassingly slow pace of a Yankee-Red Sox game, and ole’ commissioner Selig, who has a committee working on the pace of games, provide cover for his need to nap. Perhaps it was the drudgery of yet another Mariners game.

    I didn't think 41 year olds qualified for a senior discount, but perhaps "The Kid” was just catching a catnap before he hit the early bird specials. Whatever it was, heading back to the clubhouse and being completely unavailable to pinch hit is totally unacceptable. I don’t have a problem with double standards and different rules for star players. They've earned it. I have no issues with guys heading up to the clubhouse during the course of a game. It is natural. Sometimes you need to head up to get a piece of equipment...grab a bat, gloves, watch a pitcher’s movement on TV, stretch, hit in the cages. I get it. If you are not in the line up sometimes you want to head up and break up the monotony of the bench.

     That being said, you always need to be available for whatever the manager wants. At any time! Things don’t always happen as planned during the course of a game and if you are not in the line up then it is your job to be ready when called upon. Junior, if you’re tired and sleepy, do the old sunglasses on the bench trick. We’ve all seen it, and now it goes on in almost every dugout. The old hat down low, polarized Oakley’s on and maybe the jacket zipped up high so the collar covers most of your face. Nestle into the corner at the end of the bench so now you not only can lean back, you can kind of rest up against the side wall too. Nice and cozy. Better yet, you are on the bench and can do a Clark Kent twirl of your jacket and be at the dish ready to hit in an instant. Shoot, you can even take your time and maybe have an espresso on your way to the on deck circle. A little caffiene to really wake up. After all, pace of play doesn’t seem to matter and nobody is going to say anything to the guy who helped save baseball in the great Northwest.

     All I’m saying is, Griff, you’re better than that. You are a future Hall of Famer. You were the best player in the game for a good decade. I can only imagine how much more you would have dominated if others around you were not taking steroids and you had not suffered so many inuries. I’m sure you played clean and, if everyone else had been, you would have been that much more of a superstar, the likely home run king rather than that other fellow with the huge head,

    Junior, you are there to be an influence on the young Mariners. Your value is in mentoring to the kids. How can you do that if you are not on the bench watching them play and how they handle themselves when they are not in the game? How can you help and assist the growth if you can’t see anything but the back of your eyelids? I don’t care if you are not hitting your weight (the relationship seems to be inversely growing). I’ve tiptoed that line numerous times in my own career. The fact is, you still have a lot to offer that clubhouse and the Seattle Mariner fan base.

     On the other hand, I would much rather remember you as “THE KID”, the fearless center fielder who flew into walls, the base stealer. And that swing. Oh, that swing. What a stroke. Smooth as silk and powerful. Maybe the injuries have caught up. Maybe the gel filled knee is barking. Only Jr. knows the answer to that. Maybe he needs to go on the 60 day DL and then come back for a two month farewell tour. I don’t know the inside of his health issues. I do know, though, that I’d rather see him go out as a professional and a class act, someone who respects the game enough to stay awake long enough to be available for his manager and teammates.

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