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Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Case Against Signing Griffey

Desperate Mariner fans continue to debate bringing Griffey back, and it is indeed an intriguing situation. I will present both sides of my case. Since I am opposed to this move, we will start with the cons.

Hollow marketing ploy. This move would be an obviously hollow marketing ploy to sell jerseys and falsely sell tickets. How long can that enthusiasm actually last? Once you get past the initial sales push, then what? You are simply creating a WWE situation where you are selling 'entertainment' not baseball. Selling past Mariner glory is a road we cannot afford to go down - a baseball soap opera - that is bad for the game. Fans go to games, post on blogs and participate because they are primarily baseball fans. Blurring the lines for a falsely-derived, short-term profit taints the game irreparably.

Merchandising. Frankly, expecting Mariner fans who were jilted by Griffey's departure the first time to put down cash for Griffey merchandise is a recipe for disaster. As the losses pile up people will grow frustrated and you will likely endure a backlash. Another round of jerseys? What number would he be this time?

The 'it can't hurt the team' argument is not an argument at all. It is an empty philosophy devoid of practicality and attempts to justify irresponsible actions by the front office in favor of fond past memories. No team, in fact no BUSINESS can claim to be behaving responsibly by hiring someone based on the philosophy that 'they can't hurt the company'. Another disaster in the waiting. Luckily, Jack Z is removed from that Mariner past and likely won't buy into it. Jack’s Brewers saw Griffey extensively over the years as they were division rivals. Maybe he CAN hurt the team.

Expectations. Griffey cannot live up to the expectations. People will inevitably expect him to be the player he was - those days are gone. If/when he underperforms, gets injured, etc, it opens the door for past wounds to be revisited. Griffey publicly demanded, and got, a trade to Cincinnati. He was a tenured player and could decide where he would go. Selfishly he went public with his demand, thus taking any leverage Seattle could have used to get the best deal for him. Cincinnati knew this and they could simply have waited to the end of the season and signed him as a free agent. In the end Seattle got less than market value. It was a classless act by Griffey. It sabotaged the team that he played for for ten years. In effect - he said he wanted to take his prime years elsewhere. These old wounds will be inevitably revisited were Griffey to return to Seattle.

Legacy. All these signs point to a potential tainting of Griffey's Mariner legacy. He brought much to Seattle and in the end, will likely be the most popular and cherished player to ever put the Mariner uniform on. "The Kid". That smile. Sliding across home plate to beat the Yankees. "Belted deep to left field". Those are a cherished part of Mariner lore and blurring the lines can probably only hurt that legacy. Safeco is a pitchers park – not ideal for a veteran who’s power ability is in decline.

It's a great gig for Griffey - he gets a paycheck in a time when the market is failing to find demand for an oft-injured 39 year-old who has been injury plagued since he left Seattle the first time. He is a defensive liability and an injury waiting to happen. All the nostalgia in the world will not bring back “The Kid”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I say sign him. We got nothign to lose.