Results tagged ‘ Ken Griffey Jr. ’
According to the Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, after the Seattle Mariners played their worst defensive game of the season Mariners slugger Milton Bradley was no where to be found (at least by the media) in the Mariner’s clubhouse little did he and the other media members know that Bradley actually left the stadium after the sixth inning of the game against the Rays after a brief confrontation with his Mariner Manager Don Wakamatsu. Wakamatsu clearly was seeing tell tale signs of Bradleys mental and emotional deteriorating state right after Bradley returned to the bench after his second trip at the plate and immediately Wakamatsu decided “go another direction” for the rest of the game. But unknown to Rays fans viewing the game on television, Bradley had begun a constant barrage of comments and accusations towards Home Plate Umpire Kerwin Danley. Bradley felt Danley was expanding the strike zone a bit too much vertically for Rays starter James Shields.
Bradley instantly took it upon himself upon his return to the M’s bench after striking out with the bases loaded, to unleash a verbal battle with Danley from the Mariners bench. Bradley violent fuse might have been compounded by Wakamutsu refusing to become a part of this venomous verbal barrage towards Danley. Bradley quickly escalated his vocal bards towards Danley until a dazed and confused Bradley finally mentally deteriorated to a point where he fumed he was ” packing my stuff, I am out of here.”
Maybe the trigger moment for this behavior came during Bradleys second trip to the plate that night. Bradley seemed in a daze as he watched that third called strike all the way from Shield’s hand to Rays catcher Dioner Navarro’s glove without a hint of swinging at the ball.But we can only guess what has been building up in Bradleys frustrated mind during the first month of the M’s disappointing start to the 2010 season, and with the M’s currently compounding the frustrations with odd defensive miscues, Bradley might have simply given up inside himself at that moment last night.
But what is at the forefront of all of this is the fact that Wakamatsu had replaced Bradley with recently called-up outfielder Ryan Langerhan before Bradley even began to berate and badger Danley and then uttered he was leaving. Subsequently the Mariner’s Manager had done the right thing considering the quickly deteriorating mental attitude of his Leftfielder, who could of taken that mental state to the outfield with him and compounded the problem with an interaction with the fans.
Wakamatsu quickly used his managerial hook and replaced Bradley for both the betterment of the team and Bradley at that point in the ballgame. According to people within the Mariner’s clubhouse, Bradley became instantly upset with the decision adding on to his fury at Danley, and he instantly became vocal about being pulled in the game after the sixth inning, for a “defensive replacement”.
But the reality of the whole situation is that Bradley was probably not pulled just for the fact he stood there staring at Shield’s pitch down the heart of the plate without a swing. Especially in a baseball game that was still close, and when even a 4-run lead by the Rays at that point is not a safe margin in Safeco Field. The first warning sign of impending Bradley disaster might have been right after Bradley came back to the dugout after his first strikeout of the night and he flung his Seattle batting helmet at the ground and it bounced up violently before coming to rest near the dugout.
But Bradley did not stop there as other batting equipment was tossed when Bradley finally entered the M’s dugout, and was a sure signal of Bradley’s internal combustible frustration. Bottom line, Bradley was not in a mood, or a positive position to hold a meaningful and articulate conversation at that tense moment with everyone on the Seattle bench weighing the considerable boiling emotions churning within Bradley.
But when Wakamatsu was asked post game about Bradleys absence in the clubhouse, Bradley’s Manager’s silence might have spoke volumes to the assembled media corps. When Wakamatsu did not have idea or a comment to the media, it truly sent a signal of detachment by both parties in even discussing the events in a civil manner at this time.
Could Bradley have “exited, stage right” to keep from fuming or bring this episode to an instant boil when he showed his frustrations and violence to his own batting gear then learning Langerhan was taking his spot in the top of the seventh inning? Could this one action by Wakamatsu set in motion the turbulence within Bradley to begun the cycle of a total mental implosion by the volatile outfielder?
The Mariners insist that Wakamatsu had replaced Bradley before the all too surreal scene began to play out within the Mariners dugout and clubhouse. At this moment it is unclear as to the extent of any actions or reactions from both sides prior to Bradley leaving after Wakamatsu expressed his stark opinion to Bradley to cease antagonizing the Umpires following Bradley direct barrage on Danley.
This is also a Seattle team that has been mired recently with a bit of a confidence problem, and this latest episode by Bradley will only throw more kerosene on the fire until something can be done to restore some good vibes within the team.
Bradley was brought into the Seattle Mariners fold this off season with the hopes that calmer veteran teammates like Ken Griffey Junior and Mike Sweeney might be able to nurture and massage the volatile Bradley and give him a more calming and soothing veteran sounding board for his outbursts before exploding and escalating into verbal or temper tantrums with fans or the Umpires.
There must be an immediate meeting between Wakamatsu and the Seattle Front Office with Bradley to either hash out this particular incident, or form the beginning of a “parting of the waves” might be in order for both sides to heal from this situation. Bradley could either be suspended or disciplined for his outburst, or the team might make it instantly known throughout the MLB that Bradley is a trade piece right now .
But if Bradley’s baseball talents outweigh his emotional outbursts, then a viable solution or resolution should be made to make both parties again respect themselves and their mission this season. And maybe that is the key to this situation.
In the past teams have discarded him as quickly as possible without finding a common ground or instituting financial penalties or discipline for Bradley. Maybe he is just acting out as a form of releasing his stress and tension and has not been instructed or advised of more positive ways to reduce or eliminate these pressures in the past.
Bradley will not be the first, nor will he be the last Major League Baseball player who has let an “on-the-field” situation internally destroy him during the course of a season, and possibly destroy the rest of his career. But you really regret seeing his baseball talent and his game-changing abilities get consumed by Bradley’s frantic and volatile actions that continue to ruin what could be a highly productive and fulfilling career. We have seen videos of players meltdown before, and even totally get physically sick from the outpouring of mental and emotion toxic materials within them.
Seattle is a pretty laid-back place in comparison to some of Bradle’s stops on his MLB career. And hopefully the locale will help mellow and entice Bradley to remain cohesive with his Seattle teammates and serenity will in the future, rule one day for Bradley. It is either that or we all will have to be ready to witness one of the most intense explosion since Mount St Helen’s in the Pacific Northwest when Bradley finally hits his breaking and boiling point. Hopefully, this will not happen during the next two Rays and Mariners games because I personally would hate to see the last images of Bradley be being pulled from the field, or escorted out of the stadium.
With today bringing the 2009 All-Star game fan voting to an end, it is now time for people to try and predict, influence or even try and persuade some of the rest of the baseball world that their guys truly deserve a slot in the All-Star game in St. Louis on July 14. The official results will not be aired or known until at least this Sunday, but there is speculation and even rampant optimism that at least one star of your local team will grace the roster announced on Sunday during the 2009 MLB All Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi on Sunday on TBS at 1 pm.
The American baseball public has responded to cast 223.5 million votes from 17.8 million ballots to set a new record for the total number of ballots and votes cast in the fan balloting of the All Star game. Of course this is not the last time they will get a chance to vote for a member of the 2009 All Star squad. On Sunday during the telecast, the “last chance” voting opportunity also known as the “All Star Game Sprint Final Vote”. Wow, what a clever name for the contest. As we all know, the Rays Evan Longoria won that last selection vote in 2008, and so far has been the highest vote getter in the American League side of voting this season.
The All Star Managers, the National League’s Charlie Manuel and the American Leagues Joe Maddon will help select the five players to take part in the final vote. This voting will continue until next Tuesday at 4 pm EST when all electronic votes will be counted and submitted to MLB for final approval. MLB.com will announce the winner after 4 pm and they will represent their league in the 2009 All Star game.
Who will get that last slot this season? Could it be the guy who comes in fifth or sixth in the outfield, or maybe even a late bloomer like Texas Ranger shortstop Elvis Andrus. Since my team is located in the American League, I am going to try and make some predictions and logical choices to be considered for the 2009 A L side of the field. For me to even consider who might make it on the NL side of the equation might be more speculation than fact, and I will leave that to the bevy of ESPN columnists more qualified than me to know the National League. So without further ado, let me try and figure out the final 32 members of the AL squad I would expect and also select if I was in the AL Manager’s cleats.
For the Final vote, hmm, this might be a bit interesting this season. I am thinking that the Rays will again have a member on the five people selected for the Final Vote. This season it will be uber-utility player Ben Zobrist. I think Maddon wants to put him on the squad, but he might already have three players on the squad at that point and might leave it up to the voting public for the last slot. For what he has done in the first half of the season, he deserves it, but does the rest of the country agree with the Rays fans.
A second player I feel might be considered for the final vote will be Toronto Blue Jay shortstop Marcus Scutaro. Based on his defensive and offensive mastery in 2009, he should be an outside candidate to be included as the second shortstop on the squad. He is being a bit punished by New York Yankees long stay Derek Jeter taking the starting spot, and the Rays Jason Bartlett maybe taking the second slot. But this could change and they could also be swapped if the Jays do not place another player on the squad, but with Jays starter Roy Halladay now healthy, you have to consider him for your pitching staff.
I am also thinking that MLB and Maddon might let the fans decide if Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez deserves a slot on the team after his PED conversations and his recent emergence to again hitting like the old A-Rod. This might be the place for the general public to either voice their support or disgust for his actions. The Yankee star will not be voted into the starting line-up this season as Longoria is the probable starter at third base this season for the AL.
The fourth player that might find himself on the Final Vote will be Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. This season with Jason Bay now on the AL-side of the voting, he has taken a usual spot taken by one of the trio of Hunter, the Rays Carl Crawford, and another former AL and NL All Star Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. Hunter has been a fixture on ESPN’s Sportscenter and also Baseball Tonight for his defensive web gems, and it might be the publics votes that get him into the event.
The last guy to be on the vote for the All Star Game Sprint Final Vote has been mentioned above. I am thinking that Maddon and MLB would both like to see Ken Griffey Jr. in the All-Star game again, this time on the AL side of the field. The guy has been the role model for my generation on how to play the game with style, grace and a smile during all 162 games. With his addition to this last vote, it would bring about a message that longevity and public persona do have a play in the classic event. The guy has given us great moments this year out of Seattle and deserves a shot at another All-Star selection.
So far this season, there have been some huge gains by player usually though of as back-ups or late additions to teams. There have also been some players who have sat at the top of their games have a few falls from grace moments and are trying to rebuild trust and their game. But no matter what happens, I still think this years AL squad looks as tough and as strong as the last 5 years. This is my personal selection for the final five to be considered for the All Star Game Sprint Final Vote.
This is not t mean a player like Toronto’s Aaron Hill, Twins slugger Justin Morneau, or even Indians catcher Victor Martinez will not be selected to the squads. I do not envy Maddon his job of getting all of the AL teams represented for the event. Every teams has a star who should attend the event, but also there are players who have already either sewn up a spot at that position, or might be involved in the last vote. We will not know what the country thinks until Tuesday evening, but starting on Sunday night e can again make our voices ring loud and clear and decide at least one member of the 2009 AL and NL All Star squads.
Ted S Warren / AP
Joe’s 500th Moment
It did not feel like a celebration, but come on, does it really feel like we have seen Rays Manager Joe Maddon out there 500 times in a Rays uniform? It feels like it was just yesterday that we were introduced to this guy who looked more like your Logic or Statistics class professor than a baseball manager. But little did we know that the “statistics” label would still seem fresh today. It is so refreshing to see him still have the same type of managerial style that he displayed on the first day. When the Rays first manager, Larry Rothschild hit his third year, you could not even recognize his style, much less his smile.
But here we have the bold glasses of Maddon still gracing the dugout steps with grace and confidence in his team and their chances. How refreshing is it to know that the guy who took the Rays reins in 2006 made his debut on April 3rd in Baltimore. It took him two more days to celebrate his first win, a 2-0 victory thrown by Mark Hendrickson. But who would have guessed this guy would still be here when he first was introduced. We have seen it before in Tampa Bay, first Larry Rothschild the mastermind behind the Florida Marlins pitching staff during their first World Series victory was hired to build the franchise in the image of the Marlins. This team has chewed up and spit out managers like a guy eating conch fritters at Frenchy’s on Clearwater Beach, Florida.
But why is it that Maddon has lasted so long? Could it be that he actually has a master plan, and has been able to implement it without stress and the front office blocking his thoughts and ideas. That is the great thing about his hiring and the team getting a new ownership at the same time. Both came in as blank pages to the Rays fans. Both had huge upside and confidence in them was sky high. I think even with the recent downward offensive woes, the energy and the chemistry on this team is high this season. You can see in the game that certain breaks have not gone our way that fell into our laps in 2008.
But I believe Maddon has the ability to steer the team’s thoughts towards recognizing these game changing moments and will turn them into positive events soon. But who would have guessed it when he got his 125th victory on September 23rd against the Boston Red Sox at home. Here he was 25 percent of the way to his 500th game and he had been pushed by defeat and success. He missed hitting the .500 mark in 2006 in his first season by one win. But even with the 61 victories, you could feel the tide changing in Tropicana Field. You knew this guy understood what was needed to hit the next level.
So here we are today at Safeco Field in Seattle with the Rays playing a late game start against the Mariners. Funny how last year these teams were headed in different directions, but now they have reverse mirror-image records, with the Rays fighting to get out of the American League East basement with a 5-9 record and the Mariners on top of the American League West division with a 9-5 mark. But there was Maddon like a proud general leaning on the rail and watching his team go to battle against the Mariners. He has currently posted 229 wins in those 500 contests. That is amazing considering this is a franchise that did not win before he stepped into the head job.
Who would remember that in his first year he finished 36 games back of the AL East winner, and in two years he would be the one on top looking down at everyone else. I was checking out some old Maddon quotes, and this one from the Tampa Tribune caught my eyes,” “The fourth manager in ( Devil ) Rays history is a book you can’t put down. A concert you rock to, a story that begins in a mining town and ends in a baseball dugout, sometimes cruising with the girlfriend to an L.A. beach, Springsteen blasting from the convertible, for a glass of red wine at sunset. Something for everyone.” Wow, that was written the day he was hired by the Rays on November 14, 2005. People forget, we could have lost him to the Boston Red Sox in 2004, but they decided to hire Terry Francona for their managers position. We need to celebrate Maddon. Not for what he has done for this franchise, but for what is going to do this year and in the future. I look forward to again celebrate his 1000th game on the 28th game of the 2012 season.
Ted S Warren / AP
Same Bat Channel, Same Bat Station
Watching the first inning of last night;s game I got excited that maybe this road trip might be the right thing to get our bats again stroking the ball and producing a few more runs than the opponent. Little did I know that the walk and those two hits in the first inning would be the highlight of the Rays night. There was excitement knowing that lead-off man Jason Bartlett was 5-8 lifetime against Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn. And when he lead off the game with a walk, you knew something was about to happen. After Carl Crawford hit a flutter ball to short for a quick out, the Rays began to flex a little muscle.
Evan Longoria kept his bat going by stroking a nice RBI-double into the left field corner that Endy Chavez had trouble with as it bounced oddly off the wall. Pat Burrell, who had been hitting at a .357 clip in his last 4 starts, hit a ball up the middle to score Longoria and put the Rays up early 2-0. But after that, the Rays again fell into their recent funk of going down 1-2-3 both in the second and third innings. Burrell did again try and get something started in the fourth inning when he hit another ball up the middle for a single, but after a Ben Zobrist hard blast that landed just at the bottom of the left field wall, both men ended up stranded on base for the Rays.
It is not frustrating that Zobrist hit that laser beam to left, but it did get there too fast, or the Rays might have had a chance to get Burrell home. It was one of those moments where a great hit hindered the end result. And that has been one of the foundation points to the Rays not getting some of their needed runs this year. Either we are popping the ball with mustard, or we are not stringing them along to make a sustainable rally to win. Scattered hits and walks will not win games, but they are showing that the ability is there and the formula can work. That is what is so unnerving about the slow start to the 2009 season. The team is doing the right things and getting hits, but not in a consistent manner by stringing them together and posting rallies of any duration.
Feast or fathom is the word for their offense so far in 2009. And Maddon is confident that the team will shake this and be fine this year. It is early, and we know this is a better team in 2009 than the AL Pennant-winning club of 2008, but getting into the AL East cellar early might not play well in the long run. From that fourth inning on, the Rays had 4 base runners the rest of the night. Longoria walked in the fifth inning, Gabe Kapler hit a awesome double, his fourth of the year in the seventh inning, and Carlos Pena finally got on base with a walk after three straight strikeouts. And in a last ditch effort to get a victory, Dioner Navarro lead-off the ninth inning with a single to center field, but was left stranded after two quick fly outs and Bartlett being called out on strikes to end the game.
Ted S. Warren / AP
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
You know that quote had to come from a military leader, because a baseball manager would love the essence of that quote, but hate the result. But the Rays again showed some tremendous defensive effort, which included some nifty and classic Longoria moments. At least three times in the game, the Mariners were testing the Rays third baseman. This included two times just by Ichiro, but he completed the outs all three times gunning down even the speedy Ichiro.
But one bunt did go a bit wrong in the first inning. Ken Griffey Jr., who has been known for knee problems put a ball down in front of the mound and was speeding to first as Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine picked the ball up and threw off line a bit to give the Mariner’s their second base runner of the game. Sonnanstine did get an error on the throw, but the play did not end up coming back to haunt him tonight. But in the third inning, Akinora Iwamura made one of the best plays of the night when he took a ball hit by Adrian Beltre up the middle and went deep into the hole just on the outfield grass and gloved the ball and threw blindly to first to just get Beltre and retired the Mariners 1-2-3 for the first time tonight.
But the play of the night came from the outfield. Gabe Kapler got the start tonight in place of B J Upton, who is still rehabbing a slight quad pull. Kapler did not begin his fourth inning in a great way, but he did end it in classic style. After Mike Sweeney started off the inning on base after Sonny got him with a breaking pitch in the back hand, Jose Lopez hit a single to left to give the Mariners two quick base runners. But Seattle catcher Rob Johnson had a surprise for Kapler as he hit a long fly ball over Kapler’s head and to the wall for a RBI-triple.
But a testament to the Rays defense was shown when Johnson did not try and score off of Franklin Guttierrez’s fly ball to right field. Seattle Third Base Coach Bruce Hines held up Johnson not wanting to test Zobrist’s arm. Zobrist did end up throwing the ball into the plate with a strong straight throw that surely would have pegged Johnson. Yuniesky Bentancourt then hit another drive over Kapler’s head that one-hopped to the wall and gave the Mariners a 4-2 lead in the game. After Ichiro tried to again test Longoria for the second time tonight, Endy Chavez hit a long and curving ball to left-center field. On the play, Kapler had a great read on the ball and got to it just as it was about to dip away from him. Leaving his feet he caught the ball in stride going horizontal for the final out of the inning. The play ended up being the number 1 Web Gems last night on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.
Ted S. Warren / AP
I found it kind of interesting that the Mariner’s adjusted their rotation to get Rays-killer Jerrod Washburn on the mound last night. For his career, he was 11-3 against the Rays, with a 2.60 ERA coming into the game. It was a bold move by the Seattle coaching staff, but it did work out for them as they got their 9th win of the year. Washburn was in control of the game from the second inning on, and posted 9 strikeouts on the night. He mixed his fastball and his breaking pitches well last night. The victory put him at 3-0 on the season. The loss was only the second in the last 8 games against Seattle at Safeco Field.
Todd Kalas is the Man
I have always had a lot of respect for Todd Kalas and his broadcasting abilities. Last night was the first time we have seen the strapping-young lad since his father passed away last week. Todd came on before the game and thanked the many fans, players and broadcasters who have expressed their feeling to him in the previous week. He spoke of the great memories of working with his dad in the past, made sure everyone know how sincere he firmly felt their notes and messages to him and his family. But, the last comment by him really got to me. In his last words he expressed, ” Dad, pop the top on a cold one, it is time for the game!” Classic moment from a classy guy.
Happy Early B’day Safeco Field
We already know how I feel about this monument to baseball in the Pacific Northwest, but I forgot that it was entering it tenth year this season. I might have to go out for a series this year because I remember being at Jacob’s Field during their tenth year also and it was quite a environment. It doesn’t seem like July 15,1999 when they played the first game in this stadium. From its ground-breaking in March 1994, to the first pitch by former Mariner Jamie Moyer at 7:15 pm ( called strike), this stadium has been a centerpiece of the Seattle skyline.
From the time in September 1996, when they decided on this location just south of the old Kingdome, this stadium had been on the forefront to be a regional landmark. The first plans for the stadium did not include the retractable roof. But after a study showed that over 50 percent of the ballpark visitors came from beyond local King county, the commission formed to watch over and also manage the project asked local architect’s NBBJ about the roof options. More than 30,000 fans came out on March 8, 1997 as fan favorite Ken Griffey Jr. shoveled out the first dirt on the stadium project. Then on July 15, 1999 over 47,000 fans greeted the new digs during the Inaugural game against the San Diego Padres.
Bites and Nibbles
Carlos Pena ended his 12-game hitting steak just two shy of his personal best 14 games by going 0-3, with three strikeouts. Pena is currently tied for second in the AL in strikeouts with the Indians Grady Sizemore with 17 for the season. Dioner Navarro and Akinora Iwamura are tied for 13th with 13 strikeouts each so far in 2009.
Evan Longoria slipped to 11th in hits in the American League. He has 19 so far this year. He is however still tied for the second spot with 6 other AL batters in doubles with 6 this year. Longoria is also in a 5-way tie with 5 homers this season, and is in a 4-way tie with 13 RBI’s so far this year for the Rays. He is also second in Slugging Percentage hitting for a .816 average, only .090 below the Ranger’s Ian Kinsler who leads the AL. So far in 2009, a sophomore slump has not been bothering the young third baseman.
Jason Bartlett is currently rocking to fifth spot in overall AL batting average with a .391 this season. He is also currently 20th in the AL in runs with 20 for the Rays. He is also tied with Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury for fourth place in stolen bases in the AL with 5 so far in 2009. Carl Crawford also is tied for second in triples with twenty-seven other hitters in the AL right now.
David Price had his best performance of 2009 in his latest game for the Durham Bulls. Last night Price threw 71 pitches and gave up 2 hits and two earned runs in the 7-3 Bulls win. Two of those runs were given up on a homer by the Gwinnett Brave’s Reid Gorecki in the third inning. After Gorecki’s homer, Price did not give up another hit in his five innings. It was his first victory in 2009. The Rays still have the future star on a 75-pitch count at Triple-A to conserve his arm.
If there is one player I wish we could have found space and money for him in Tampa Bay for 2009, it has to be the guy who will go into the Hall of Fame having played for my second favorite MLB squad. With the Tampa Bay Rays recent signing of former Phillie Pat Burrell, it ends that secret hidden deep in my heart to see Ken Griffey Junior play and succeed in a Rays uniform. If you really consider what this guy has done in such a long and productive carrer, he is a one of those guys who I believe will be a sure thing first ballot Hall of Famer, without a question. I was justing looking forward to watching that swing 81 games a year at the Trop., but I will just have to buy the MLB Package and watch him play maybe in my second city, Seattle again in 2009.
From the days at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, where he was a twice voted the best baseball player of the year, to at 19, being the youngest player in the major leagues. The guy has always been at the top of his profession. And to even imagine that he had the chance to do it side by side with his dad is beyond words. Now that is something that I find truly amazing to me. I know I would have loved to play baseball or even box against my dad, or his uncle as a kid growing up, and would have really learned how it was to play the Philly type of street/ parking lot football and baseball. But Griffey Jr. got to do it along side an All Star dad, while playing for the team that made his dad a star, the Cincinnati Reds is truly amazing to me.
He is one of the first player to ever be on a major league roster at the same time as his father and playing in the MLB. And if that was not a huge event, he also got to finally play along side his dad after his trade from the Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds. Both Father and son did appear in several lineups that season. And his outward enjoyment of the game of baseball is clear to see by anyone watching him before, during and after the games. For the art of baseball with all of it’s simple parts and complicated segments never seemed to get him down or stress him out at all. He has always been that care free and smiling figure on the sidelines signing autographs or posing for photos with the fans. He respects the game and pay homage to those before him for letting him have the honor of playing this great game.
He is the essence of what you want your teams’ professional baseball player to be, and what you might want you own kids to become someday. He might go out with the boys’ to nightclubs and dinner while on road trips, but he also has been clean and clear to others that he is happily married and loves his lifestyle. The Daily pressures and expectations might take a toll on him, but doesn’t show the effects or even the worry because when he hits that field for Batting Practice, he tries to convey a sense of fun and pranks, almost child-like play, and does not take anything serious around the ball field before the first pitch of the game. How can you not like a guy with that kind of idealistic joy. And how can he not be on your list of people in baseball to admire and respect.
And people tend to forget he was the youngest player to ever hit the 350 home run mark. He also still hold one of the best career batting average marks ever in All Star play by hitting over .571 in the mid summer classic. And if that was not enough, the guy also won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves as a center fielder in the American League. He also hit a homer in 8 straight games once during his career, and has hit a home run in every ball park in the American League, and still will be in uniform to maybe hit one in 2009 in the new Yankee Stadium. Depending on what team finally signs him in 2009, he might still also have a chance to hit a home run in the New York Mets new dig, Citi Park this coming season. If he does sign with the Mariners, he will not get a chance in Inter-league play to go beyond the Mississippi River in 2009. But if he did resign with the Chicago White Sox, he as an option of going back to Cincy during the Inter-league series form June 19-21, 2009.
But Griffey Jr. is entering a new phase in his playing career. Ever since 1995, when he broke his wrist while with the Mariners, small injuries and mishaps have taken him down a road he hates to admit might have derailed a lot of his career. Simple injuries have cost this guy a chance at maybe beating Barry Bond’s home run record. He was for years the heir apparent to the crown before his string of injuries cost him at bats and chances at homers over the years. In 2008, an errant foot locker left out in the area near his locker caused him to suffer a knee injury that plagued him the entire season. This off season he has taken measures to correct the injury and should be ready by the Feb. reporting date to again pratice and regain strength in the knee.
He is about to enter a second career of sorts for a few months in 2009, maybe setting himself up a bit with a life after baseball motivation. I could see him maybe in a political role somewhere down the line, but did not think it would go hand in hand with his baseball career. Well seriously folks, for a few years there he could have ran for mayor of Tacoma or Seattle and won by a landslide vote. But recently, United States Secretary of the State Condoleeza Rice named Griffey as a Public Diplomacy Envoy. In accepting the honor, Griffey Jr. is challenged with a new goals and set of parameters. He is entrusted with the act of spreading the values of the United States by helping to spark interest in America and in our culture. Griifey also will share this honor with former figure skater Michelle Kwan and former television star, Fran Drescher, better known for her role and voice as ” The Nanny.”
Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who was appointed in 2007 to the same post will accompany the newly appointed envoys when they begin their adventures in January with a trip to Panama Since Griffey Jr. has played both on the U S Olympic and World Baseball Classic teams for the United States, he seemed like the logical and most visual player to ever be considered for the post. ” Public diplomacy must be a dialogue” Rice said recently after a meeting with Griffey Jr. “This dialogue must extend to every citizen in every country, especially to the young people.” Because of his still boy-ish looks Griffey Jr. will convey a sense of All American values and be a great example of the type of person an American youth should use as an example for life. Griffey Jr. is excited about the position and is looking forward to his missions for his country.
Well-known athletes and celebrities, who exemplify the best in their sports and professions, and as a individual citizens, are appointed by the Secretary of the State to be American Public Diplomacy Envoys. This special envoy not only reaches out to youth though sports and communications, but promotes the best aspects of American culture and democratic principles. So our latest diplomatic weapon to show people the values and great traits of our country has 611 home runs and has just reached 39 years of age. Griffey Jr is only the 3rd athlete to ever hold this position with the U S government.
He also got an honor a lot of people never knew about unless you lived on the west coast of America. In 1989, Ken Griffey Junior got to taste a chocolate candy bar named after him, and it sold over 1 million bars before they ceased production of the bar. Just another great fact about this very like-able baseball player. He has had countless video games produced and released with his likeness and name upon the packaging. Who can forget the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 games with his name on them that we all played for hours in our family room around the country.
So what does the future hold for the great Griffey Jr in 2009? You would think that during the World Baseball classic he would be doing the tours along the sites to promote and entertain the ideals of this great country, while maybe serving in some role for the United States team. But nothing is guaranteed for him in 2009 with the W.B.C. But what might be of concern now is where will he be reporting to after the classic is over in 2009? In a recent article online, it was stated that Tiger’s center fielder Curtis Granderson called Griffey Jr about his time in the 2006 WBC and asked his advice if he should play for the team. It is not known what Griffey said to Granderson, but the player accepted a invitation to play for the U S team today, and he might be one of the heir apparents to Griffey’s center field spot on the squad.
Now that the Tampa Bay Rays have signed Burrell, it seems that he will not be near home in 2009, unless the Rays can find a way to bring him on board at a reduced price, or maybe shave off some payroll in other areas of the team. Now personally, I would have been honored if the guy had chosen my Rays as his team for 2009. I think the guy is all class, and I got to meet him briefly before the ALDS becuase of an old friend who is playing for the Chicago White Sox. I found him refreshing and totally accessible, and he signed a ball for me without me even asking him for an autograph. We chatted a few minutes before he had to get into the locker room, but it will remain as one of my best baseball moments. It will sit right along side of photo memory of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris both holding me for a picture at Al Lang Field when I was young ( 1961 ).
No, the likely destination for Griffey Jr. might, and should be the place where it all began for him. He should be allowed to return to Seattle and help the Mariners during their rebuilding years and to finally play his last game in the stadium that he helped get built in the Emerald City. He has had that town in his mind ever since they drafted him in the First Round in 1987. He finally made it to the big leagues in 1989, and has not looked back since then. He was a part of the Mariners first post season berth, and still has a soft spot for the team’s ownership and the town in general.
I know I would love it if he was still playing in 2015 ( doubtfully, but I can dream) when I retire to Seattle to see this great player stride to the plate in his last at bat, in that last home game. I know it will be an end of a era of sorts not only in Seattle, but also in baseball. We might never see another player like Ken Griffey Jr. in our lifetime. There are a lot of ballplayers I grew up with that I see at Legends games and charity events throughout Florida during Spring Training, but the games I alsways have looked forward to were the contests against the Reds and the Rays to watch Griffey Jr. just hit the ball during B P . His troke is so pure and seems without effort at times. It is a wonder to just stare at the bat and watch it go through the zone to make contact with the ball.
Just as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig mesmerized and produced a baseball love affair for my dad and millions of other fans who never even saw them play some 80 years ago, Griffey Jr. will be one of the true baseball icons we remember when we are sitting on the porch remembering the greatness about baseball in our old age. And you know the one thing I will remember most about this great guy…………..that boyish smile that starts at BP, and grows until the last out of the game. I have never, ever seen him get angry or even get ejected from a ball game, even though it might have happened a few times in his career.
Griffey Jr. deserves to be a first ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame after his career. I think the guy has a few more productive years in him before he might even think about hanging up his Nike spikes and spending the rest of his life in Orlando, Florida with his wife and kids. But, you never know with baseball. In all probability he will be signed before Spring Training and report as usual to begin another great year on the diamond. And to see him having fun in the sport that has given him and us so much to always remember.
When I was younger, there were several television and picture puzzle shows that questioned the location of its characters. “Wheres Waldo? ” and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? ” were institutions for kids to want to discover geography and hopefully, develop a love for other countries cultures and it hoped to cultivate a yearning to read about other nations around the globe.
Well, in the vein of such great shows and pictorial institutions, I think that the Tampa Bay community should create its own version called,” Where Is the Gambino? “. Seriously folks, since he has let it be known that he would love to play for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, I have seen multitudes of Giambi sightings in Las Vegas and in venues beyond the neon lights. The tabloids and the Internet are full of “Gambino” photos of him posing with the rich and famous, and with the fans of the blue-eyed slugger.
Here we have a nice keepsake photo of Rays Manager, Joe Maddon in the kitchen with culinary master chef Barry Dakake at his swanky Las Vegas bistro with the “G-man” at their side. To say that Giambi is a social animal is an understatement. He truly enjoys the social side of baseball as much as the hitting and running. And he also pulls both off well. But be advised, he is great on the diamond as long as you hide his glove after Batting Practice.
So the guy with the steel-blue serial killer eyes wants to be a Ray? He is currently campaigning to be a Ray, an Athletic and even a Blue Jay. All three need a highly potent bat at Designated Hitter for 2009. So where will Giambi park his Escalade in 2009? Most people think that the next sighting of the “Giambino” might be at a contract signing at Tropicana Field some time in the next few weeks. According to local gurus, the slugger is adamate about the area and wants to play for a winner next year. That combined with the aspect of putting it to his former team might be a great motivator for Giambi.
I can give you an honest opinion here that I like the idea of him playing here. I love it more for the fact it will drive Yankees Manager Joe Girardi absolutely nuts 17 times a year, and I like that idea a whole lot. And I am fine with that proposition, since I personally think that Girardi is not the right fit for the manager of the Yankees. Even as a player he was never the “go-to” guy on his Yankee squads. I can see him as a bench coach, or even a catching coordinator in someones’ minor league system, but not the head honcho of the Yankees. He was very lucky with the Florida Marlins, they were a good team before he got there and got better with him in the dugout, in spite of his managing skills.
But I do know that Giambi loves the Tampa Bay area. You got to remember, he spent every Spring Training here with the Yankees, and his rehab assignments have all started in Tampa, at the neighboring Yankees complex on North Dale Mabry by Raymond James Stadium. He has been known to stand out in the crowd at local hangouts during the spring, or when the Yankees were in town to play the Rays. I saw him a few times at Push Lounge during the Yankees series last year. And you know he was there for the music, not the fine assets that wear skimpy outfits in Tampa Bay. The nightlife in St. Petersburg and Ybor City would appeal to him, and we all know that he is not your typical baseball hound, he is usually seen mingling and chatting up with the locals either on the main floor or by the rails at the VIP lounge area.
Can you imagine the St Peterburg Times section called “The Juice” blowing up in popularity by posting a “Giambino” photo essay weekely on the places to go, and be if you are an up and coming guy like Giambi. I can only imagine the rise in readership and webviews if such a section would be included in the publication. It would surely help the circulation woes of the paper and maybe even produce a cottage industry of people going to places to be Giambi watchers.
Might even spawn a club or two of faithful Rays fans who would be affectionately called the “Giam-Bros” who would be a outer perimeter posse for the big D H. Wow, could this area even support such a player who could transform a fan base into loving an ex-Yankee. Well, it might actually bring in a few Yankees fans to more games to just try and get Giambi’s signature. People in the Bronx had a hard time getting up close and persona with the giant, but now could get right next to him in the fan-friendy confines of the Trop.
And we already know that we will be able to find Giambi after Rays game somewhere in the community enjying life and the night life. Think of the crowds that would assemble for signing outside the stadium. And try and even imagine a Giambino sighting at a Lightning game or a USF football game. The crowd would go wild to know that he is supporting the local community.
And we do not have to worry about a posse or entourage for him. He is a personal friend of any celebrity that wants to meet him. Seriously, just becuase he took a photo with ?Rays crazy man Brian Knobs, doesn’t mean they do not have each others number on speed dial. Think of the entourage he could obtain of just the current Rays fans. He could have Hulk Hogan, Bill Goldberg, Knobs and John Cena in his corner as muscle while other locals celebs would flock to chat and mingle with the new Rays.
I have a personal “Giambino: story I know about that is quite halarious and think you might find it funny too. Back in the days when Jason and his brother, Jeremy played for the Oaklans A’s, they used to love to mingle in the crowds at Fergs’. This is true story, one time I was there with a friend and the two brothers were there with team mate Jason Isringhausen having a few brews and enjoying the sights. Well, come time to leave, a friend of mine decided to give them a ride back to the Vinoy, which is on the waterfront here in St. Petersburg. Well, somehow she got the Mercedes Benz pointed in the wrong direction and after driving for a spell, found them selves in Tampa, a good 20 miles norht of the hotel. True story, and one that Giambi might still remember.
But beyond that, think of the crowds and the publicity this guy can bring to charity events and community outreach programs. While he was with the Yankees he was a vaulable pitch man and a community magnet for anything to do with the kids. That is the part of this guy that I admire greatly, and wish we had more of on the team. We do have the guys who give their all for the community, but sometimes the lack of name recognition right now gets the better of the Rays.
After this past post season, I truly feel that is a thing of the past, but we shall see on that front. Anyways, the guy would be an instant hit and a instant attraction at events. Tell me you would not stand in line for his autograph or a chance of a photo with Giambi. I can tell you I enjoy meeting these guys and taking a photo more for the sake of talking about it when I am old and gray.
Baseball players can make a huge impact on younger kids since the baseball seasons in Florida can run 12 months a year of the weather is good. With that kind of potential for new fans and interest in the team, a guy like Giambi might be a perfect fit. A local newspaper also has listed the odds of getting the big slugger at 3-1, and I will take those odds.
Heck, I have forgotten all about the Mitchell Report and everything else before 3 years ago with this guy. If you saw a photo of him in the minors, you know that he either took a huge responsibility to get bigger, or had some help. Since I played a bit of football at every level we have in the US, I know what he did and how he got that big.
But I also know it is the culture of sports and not the athlete that sometimes condones and expects such actions. For that reason, I will never shout the “Steroid” word at him, or even riddicule him for something he did to make him better suited for his craft. It is a fact of life that people love the long ball, and some players have to adjudt their body mass to get the same result as natural hitters like Ken Griffey Jr.
But what has endeared me to the guy is what he did during the Spring Opener at Yankee Stadium in 2007. Jason Giambi has known Cory Lidle during his days both as an Athletic and as a Yankee. You have to assume and know that the guys were friends. And when Lidle has that fatal airplane collision in 2006, you know Giambi was one of the first Yankees to break down and cry.
But the action he took with Cory’s widow Melanie and her son, Christopher that day truly touched me alot. Here is guy as big as a horse who was there foir the family of a fallen team mate, kneeling with his son before the ceremonial first pitch of the 2007 season. I was a touching sight and one I have had signed by him on a 8 X 10. I know what I saw in his eyes when he signed it, and I let him know he was a baseball friend of mine form his short time with the Rays.
Giambi just patted me on the shoulder and asked how close were we, I told him not as close as team mate, but as close as you can get with a guy without violating that fan-player trust. He just smiled and told me to catch him anothe time when we could chat more…………That is why I like this guy as more thna ball player. His personality and charm is just what the Rays need to convey that next level of greatness. I hope we sign the guy, but even if we do not, I am a “Giambino” fan for life now.
So what do you thinki, can we get a localized version of “Where’s the Giambino?” going if we sign this gentle giant, or will the polarized fan base of the Rays again make a great baseball player think twice about signing with a small market club. One of the huge advantages of playing here that is missed by so many players is tha fact you are no longer in that fishbowl, you can live your life with a bit more freedom and enjoy your time with the team. And Jason, if you need an inside source for your entourage, call me..I am in the book.
One of the hardest jobs in all of baseball is not the Managers’ position, but the title of General Manager. I think that more GM’s have taken a bullet for the failures of their teams than any of baseball field mangers. It is said that the stream of blood runs downhill after a slaughter and usually that blood starts at the scalp of the GM, who is the first sacrificial lamb for the public and the media.
The position has a bit of give and take from the bottom to the top, but for all intentions, can be the lonliest post when things are going bad for your team . You have to dictate and slice through all of the BS coming out of the clubhouse and the publics mouths, plus select the most rightious information and sage advice from scouting to make a calculated and educated gamble on a player or a team situation.
For Rays General Manager aka Boy Wonder of 1 Tropicana Drive, Andrew Friedman, so far in his tenure in the position, the scale has been weighed heavily in his favor. Considering that less than 3 years ago he was not even involved with the Tampa Bay Rays, and his name was no more known in public circles than my name. But in three years with help from wily old veteran G.M. Gary “Obi Wan” Hunsicker he has built upon a solid core of players and eager staff members to reign alone on top of the G.M. mountaintop.
Decision after decision went wrong for him in the beginning. He stayed silent and towed the line on trade talks that could have meant the world to the team, and moved on ones that might have dealt them a death blow in the past.pile But with a few years of plus and minues calculations, the Rays G.M. has eliminated the risk management portion of his position and is seeing only sunny skies and rainbows right now.
Well, on today’s front page, MLBlogs asked a simple question that will either rock the nether worlds or simply go down as more Internet babble and ramblings by people who love to play God behind a keyboard. I am one of those ramblers, but I can atest to countless hours of thinking about this ( 2 hours) and entered debate after debate during the morning to strengthen my fortitude and latitude to accept this challenge. I am to become the G.M. of the American League champions for a short time and plot the course for the Rays cruiseliner. Hopefully I will not need a toll for the river Styx after I am done with my opinions and raw mental brainfarts. But in the office of the G.M., even ordering coffee can be met with critcism and second-guessing.
I am not sure if I want to play a higher power, but I would like a crack at a few situations I would consider if I was the Rays GM for the next few days in Las Vegas. With that in mind, I am going to put myself in WWAD ( What Would Andrew Do ) mode and trya and make a few educated guesses as to the betterment of the Rays roster and their minor league system. I even have a play that should be added to their 40-man roster before Friday, or lose him to another team is a sure bet.
So, here we go, I am acting GM of the Tampa Bay Rays for about an hour. My first round of business will be to get minor leaguer Rhyne Hughes on the 40-man roster. Hughes had a monster Arizona Fall League and might be going the route that current Rays pitcher James Shields took a few years back. Hughes made the All- AFL selection squad and hit the cover off the ball in Arizona.
He has been at the Double-A level in 2008, but might start there then move up to Triple-A depending on the Bulls need for a power first baseman. But getting this kid hidden on the 40-man roster is a vital cog that has to be done ASAP. The Rays took care of a roster spot on Monday evening by assigning pitcher Chad Orvella, who is coming off of shoulder surgery outright to the Durham Bulls.
The Rays might not have as many holes as usual this coming year, which actually plays well into their hands during negotiations with players. There are several key guys up for arbitration like Dioner Navarro, Jason Bartlett, Edwin Jackson and Jonny Gomes. In the next several weeks a few of those guys might not be here by trade or being released by the team. I would put more money on the trade situation than losing all value for the players. Even a guy like Gomes, who had a miserible 2008, has value to a team looking for a 4th outfielder or even a DH for hire.
I am going to cut to the chase in this blog and attack the two main needs for the team in 2009. The right-field slot and the DH position are highly publicized and ’must need’ positions on the team. I have a few ideas about each and will explore them in two ways. First to list the free agent solutions, and then by trade.
First off, let’s tackle the need for a DH or bench player for the Rays via the free agent market. With the recent lunch date with Milton Bradley going so well for the Rays, the only thing standing in the way besides a contract is if the guy is worth losing your first round pick for him. With Bradley being considered a top tier free agent, the team would have to forfeit a draft pick to secure his signing.
Another plus about Bradley that the Rays can build on is his ability to protect hitters in front of him bcause of his .324 average last season. To add onto that is the fact he also hit 22 home runs and struck out only 112 times last season. He is also an on-base guy, posting .439 On-Base Percentage, largely because of his 80 walks. His sttitude and personality quirks have also mellowed with age and he has become a calm force in the locker room. He might not be Cliff Floyd, but the guy commands respect and leads by example.
The second alternative to a DH via the free agent wire is also a very attractive one for the Rays. Mostly because this player can still contribute in the field at some lengths and could be a valuable asset to the club. Also considering some of the milestones he is approaching, he could be a great PR tool for the team to attract fans. If you have no figured it out yet, it is Ken Griffey Junior. I have been a huge Griffey fans since his Mariner days and would consider him in a second for the DH position.
Junior might have slipped a bit in production in the last few seasons, but he also has been playing the field almost every day while in the National League, and took over center for the Chicago White Sox after being traded at the trading deadline in 2008. If he was to be a DH, with an occasional stroll into the outfield, he could protect his knees and still hit daily for the team. Griffey hit only a combined .248 between both leagues in 2008, but his low amount of strikeouts ( 25 ) shows that the plate discipline is still there and he can rebound off a bad 2008.
The Rays might be able to get Griffey at a Florida discount becuase of his home being in Orlando, but still might command about $ 4-6 million a year. Griffeys’ 2008 salary was set at about $ 8.2 million, which would put him out of Tampa Bay puse strings if he commands the same salary in 2009.
Bradley made about $ 5.25 million last season. If Bradley wants to play on a competitive team for 2009, he also might be into giving the Rays a discount on base salary with some incentive bonuses tied to production. I would think a $ 4 million dollar salary with up to 2 million in incentives might do the trick for Bradley.
Let’s now consider the right-field slot. I honestly feel that the team can find a suitable player who is right-handed without breaking the bank in 2009. Alot of names have been tossed around lately, but there is aslo one that has not come to the surface yet in refference to the Rays. Brad Wilkerson has been playing right-field in the majors for a long time. He started 2008 with the Seattle Mariners, then moved onto the Toronto Blue Jays and provided great relief and power from the right-side of the plate.
Most of baseball has not even considered him after a sub-par 2008 while both rehabbing and trying to fit into a tight outfield situation in Toronto. But he might be a low cost alternative to the high priced guys seeking positions through the MLB. His sub .250 average for 2008 was mostly covered by his injury that he tried to play through before going down and finally getting healthy.
This is the one position on the Rays that I think they can make a great trade that can help both ballclubs. In the past, the Rays have been linked as the third team with the Chicago Cubs for Jake Peavy. But the real factor is that they do not need the Cubs to make a trade with San Diego. The Padres are seeking a shortstopn and a pitcher to replace two players currently either treaded or deep into discussion to part the Padres.
Tampa Bay was eager to pout in a claim for Brian Giles on the waiver wire in 2008, but got one-upped by the Boston Red Sox. The Sox blocked the attempt to claim Giles to keep him off the Rays roster and maybe get him for themselves. Giles did not want to go to the Red Sox, but might be open to a Rays attempt at a trade because they have a true opening for him in right-field.
One problem with this trade off the bat is the amount of salary owed to Giles in 2009. The Rays might not be willing to take on the entire amount of the 2009 salary and would want to offset some of it by having the Padres eat a bit of the contract. The players’ that the Padres could get for Giles could be a nice smorgasboard of up-and-coming pitchers and a infielder.
The Rays have a abundance of pitchers who are log-jammed at the minor league level and might be willing to part with a MLB level pitcher and a Triple-A starter. The pitchers in question could range from Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel to Jeff Niemann and Mitch Talbot. All have been at the major league level and have proven to be quality pitchers.
The Rays also have a few infielders who could be packaged in the deal, which includes Reid Brignac, Elliott Johnson, who have limited major league experience to Ben Zobrist or even Jason Bartlett who have MLB experience. Zobrist is actually a player who could play any role for the Padres and is still under contract for 2009. Bartlett is arbitration-eligible, but might only cost about $ 2 million a year fater the hearing.
Giles is my trade target for the team in 2009. I think if the team packaged Jeff Neimann, Jason Bartlett and maybe another reliever, Dale Thayer or a Double-A player, plus take on $ 2 million dollars of Giles salary, we could have a great deal for both teams. But that is just my opinion here.
So here we go, I have taken on two trouble spots for the Rays in 2009 and tackled them my way. How do I think I did as GM for the Day for the Rays? That depends on if I can get these guys signed sealed and delivered for Rays Manager Joe Maddon and the boys by Febuary 2009.