April 05, 2003

Ken Griffey dislocated his shoulder diving for a fly ball today, the second season in a row he was injured in the first week of play.

posted by rcade to baseball at 03:44 PM - 15 comments

He was going to be a first-ballot, top-tier, legendary hall of fame player before he went to the Reds. Since then, he's done absolutely nothing (mainly because of his injuries) to maintain that reputation. It is beginning to look like he might not actually get into the hall of fame now. If you told me that 5 years ago, I'd have thought you were daft. I really do feel sorry for the man.

posted by grum@work at 04:24 PM on April 05, 2003

Hmmm... where have I seen this kind of career nosedive before?

posted by herc at 06:05 PM on April 05, 2003

Well, fuck. This is sad. One hopes he can get at least some of the season in- but man, that guy is having the worst run of luck. 10 years ago, as grum puts it, if you'd said Sammy Sosa would beat Griffey the 500 club, people would have asked you who the hell Sosa was. Griffey, it seems, is effectively cursed- all he had to do was have a full season, and even if it was "only" ~40 HR, he'd be seen as back, and probably be a 500 club member this year. Instead... I still say he's a hall of famer, for the same reason Koufax is in: while he could never play another full season, and while you don't get points for what could have been, what he's done already is Hall- worthy. He was already Hall-bound when he left Seattle, basically. Had Griffey spent the last 4 years being the Griffey we saw in the 90's, it would only shift the question to "best of all time?" debates. Speaking of Sosa, this is about the quietest 500 club entrance I've seen. He's not even on the front page of ESPN.com- Junior's injury is!

posted by hincandenza at 07:57 PM on April 05, 2003

Seriously, this sucks. He was having a good spring training too, and after the last few years seemed to really be taking seriously the issue of keeping himself flexible and in shape. This looked to be his John Travolta year. Instead... The weird thing is, it happened in a game against the Cubs, too- maybe if Griffey wasn't injured for a few of those months, we'd be sitting here talking about two guys hitting the 500 mark in the same game. With any luck, Griffey will be out only as long as Jeter- and the Yankees are now predicting about a month. There's no joy in watching the most exciting players of our generation get cut down- in Griffey's case, chronically- and robbed of a chance to shine on the field to the delight of us all.

posted by hincandenza at 08:05 PM on April 05, 2003

Cursed!I tell you! CURSED!

posted by silent4lie at 08:41 PM on April 05, 2003

I recently ate at the All-Star Cafe in DisneyWorld, which has devoted lots of space to celebrating Griffey along with the other founders Andre Agassi, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Shaquille O'Neal and Monica Seles. For years, Griffey was one of the people who could be described as the biggest star in baseball. It's bizarre to see someone who is so athletically gifted suffer from so many injuries.

posted by rcade at 08:25 AM on April 06, 2003

I remember the days you would get $75 for his upper deck rookie card. I wonder what it is at these days.

posted by jasonspaceman at 08:31 AM on April 06, 2003

The saddest thing about his injuries is that they almost always result from his balls-to-the-wall playing style. Crashing into fences, running hard down the line, diving to make a catch. Never from pulling on a cowboy boot or getting in a bar brawl. I just have to disagree that he's already earned his Hall pass. The fact that his banner years were in Seattle will count against him, and that he's never won anything other than a wild-card series. He needs to accomplish some more IMHO. Maybe it will have to be in a different city.

posted by vito90 at 11:56 AM on April 06, 2003

It's sad. By going to Cincinnati, Griffey probably left more money on the table than any professional athlete ever has. I think he's already earned his way into the Hall, but this kind of stuff will hurt him with the writers more than if he had just retired. Frank Thomas is sort of in a similar situation.

posted by spira at 02:48 PM on April 06, 2003

I'm not a big Griffey Jr. fan, simply because I think despite his leaving the money on the table in Seattle, he's still pissed and moaned his way through his tenure in Cincy. He's not yet a certain Hall of Famer, simply because his stats have been earned in an inflated era. If he doesn't come back and have at least a couple more good years, it'll be iffy. As for those Upper Deck rookie cards, I have a friend who purchased two 100-count blocks of them the day after they came out. I believe he paid about $100 for all of them. He turned down about $8,000 for the bunch several years ago. I think he's kicking himself now.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:46 AM on April 07, 2003

By the way, the Cincy fans booed Griffey Jr. as he was helped off the field. That's horseshit ... they deserve both the Reds and the Bengals. Didn't that town have Jerry Springer as a mayor for a while?

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:48 AM on April 07, 2003

If Kirby Puckett can make it in on the first ballot, Griffey should make it in. Though it might have helped Kirby's cause that his career came to an end in such a heartbreaking way, and not slowly over a few seasons.

posted by hootch at 11:21 AM on April 07, 2003

hootch, Kirby won a World Series in which he was the overwhelming MVP. That weighs heavily on voter's minds.

posted by vito90 at 12:00 PM on April 07, 2003

So did Pat Borders.

posted by grum@work at 12:30 PM on April 07, 2003

Ernie Banks and Ted Williams never won a World Series. Let's kick the bums out of the hall- they're crowding the real giants of the game- like Phil Rizzuto! Griffey is- or should be- an absolute lock. He had his 10 years, he has the numbers- numbers equal to all but the very very top tier already- and even if he never comes back, no one can dispute that he was one of the top 2 or 3 players in the majors for a full decade. One of the very top 2 or 3 best players in the majors- that's the definition of Hall of Fame, isn't it? Not World Series rings, not fan loyalty, not fidelity to spouse or lack of vices. The Hall of Fame is about the best players on the field, the stars of their generation, the players whose seemingly boundless talent and accomplishment thrilled fans of all teams to watch them play. When Griffey played, I said to myself often "Hal, don't ever forget- you have the privilege of knowing you are watching live one of the greatest of all time". We don't say that about many players- I say it when I watch Bonds hit, when I watch Randy Johnson or especially Pedro Martinez pitch (and Pedro isn't a lock yet, but if he gets a couple more similar years in and then gets struck down by an injury, only a fool doesn't vote him in), or when Greg Maddux or Clemens were in their prime. From the moment he stepped onto the centerfield grass as an exuberant 18-year-old Kid, to his last year in Seattle before a troubled stint in Cincinatti, Griffey was arguably the very best player in baseball. 468 homeruns is, what, about 20th on the all-time list? No one says "Yeah, that Lou Gehrig- good player, but career cut short on injury. Fuck 'em, he's not getting in."- and Gehrig had only 25 more homeruns despite playing till he was 36 to Griffey's 32 (and Sammy Sosa is a year older as well, yet only 32 homeruns ahead himself). Griffey put up numbers that are fine as full career numbers, and stellar as a career that may be cut short. And don't give me that inflated offensive era crap- fact is, Griffey hit the bulk of his homeruns during much the same era a guy like McGriff did- just before the explosion. And just because we're seeing better, stronger, faster players than ever before doesn't mean we can just dismiss their accomplishments- a few players, like Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Griffey have been hitting the 55+ HR area,, but most are not; it still takes immense talent to do it, and the fact that 4 or 5 guys at the same time are doing it instead of only 1 or 2 should be seen as a blessing for fans, not a condemnation of the stars of today. All that said, we write him off too soon- he could be back in 6-8 weeks, and pop 30 HR for the season. If he can just get healthy, and stay healthy, he's still young enough to get at least 4 or 5 solid, solid seasons in- which would put him age-wise right back ahead of Sosa and Bonds and McGwire, and could mean he's in the 600+ range, like Bonds, before his career is out. But even if he doesn't- the boy's a HoFer, no questions and no doubts. Only question left is what numbers are engraved on his plaque.

posted by hincandenza at 06:33 PM on April 07, 2003

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