Friday, March 19, 2010

Leitch swings and misses again

I've actually enjoyed a few of Will Leitch's recent "team previews," particularly the one about the White Sox. However, this one about The Mariners, and more specifically, Ken Griffey Jr., is horrible.

Seattle Mariners: The Fake Tragedy Of Ken Griffey

Ken Griffey is almost assuredly, when he is elected to Cooperstown, going to have to hear about the fact that he didn't do steroids the rest of his life.

This is a terrible way to remember Griffey, and I suspect he hates being known as A Steroid Casualty even more than he hates that he played in an era where everyone else used steroids. (This is assuming, of course, that Griffey never used performance enhancing drugs, which is not something we should assume about anyone. But I digress.) This is Griffey's real curse: The brilliance of his playing career will always be overshadowed by the era he played in. His supposed halo will get in the way of anything he did on the field. Ken Griffey is damned.

1. Why is it so horrible to be remembered as the only power hitter of your era who didn't do steroids?

2. Anyone who remembers Griffey Jr. as anything other than an amazing hitter should stop following baseball.

It's in every story you read about him anymore. The most recent, and best, example is Jon Heyman's paen to Griffey's Veteran Influence at

[Quotes Heyman]

I understand Heyman's (repeated, and repeated) point, which is the worst thing you could do for Griffey.

You're agreeing with John Heyman. Now that you've identified the problem, the next step is eliminating it.

There's going to be a sad sack cloud around Griffey throughout the rest of baseball history, because of a fundamental contradiction: For all the talk about how steroids supposedly besmirched the record book, people look at his numbers and, almost unconsciously say, "Oh, man, imagine what he would have done if he had used steroids!" If Griffey would have used PEDs, the way you're supposed to use PEDs — in moderation, to keep yourself healthy and on the field, rather than to massively bulk — he might have played enough to hit 800 homers. (Note: My math should probably be checked there.)

Your math is irrelevant because the overarching point of this article is completely asinine. Again, if you spend your days wondering what Griffey could've done with steroids: you're an asshole who should stop watching baseball.

Futhermore, the real "what if?" regarding Griffey that people who actually care about baseball should wonder is "what if Ken Griffey Jr. didn't miss so many games due to injury?" Per his 162 game average, he would've already hit 819 home runs already. That would've been a pretty big deal.

He is praised for this, but there's a tragic bent just under the surface. What those stories really say is, "If Griffey had used PEDs, and we never found out about it, we'd consider him the greatest player of all time." They secretly wish that were the case.

Way to take an opinion held by morons and make it sounds like a consensus, Will.

Griffey is as much a part of the steroid era as anybody else is. Putting him in the What Might Have Been category, it makes it implicit. That's not how Griffey will want to be remembered. But that's how he will be.

In sum:

Griffey's stats might have been better if he'd taken steroids, and as evidenced by a John Heyman article, that's all anyone will remember Griffey for. We find this to be a tragic.


Tonus said...

The thing is, we do this with a lot of players. But Ted Williams' career, for example, isn't overshadowed by questions about what he would've done if he hadn't spent five years in military service. Same thing will happen with Griffey. Yeah, we'll always wonder what he would've done if he'd been healthy in the latter part of his career, but that in itself is recognition of how much he accomplished in spite of it.

You don't get to "wonder if" status until you've already put up some impressive numbers. Not many people wonder how Brien Taylor's career might have turned out.

Jack M said...

Sorry, my intention wasn't to infer that Griffey deserves to have people wondering what could have been if he hadn't missed so many games throughout his career. I was trying to say though that if one should lament anything about Griffey, it should be his injuries and not the fact that he didn't take steroids like most of his peers did.

Chris W said...

will leitch has taken the fact that people who write articles about griffey at the height of our steroid obsession mention steroids and from that extrapolated that people will always associate kid with steroids.

good job will

Elliot said...

I for one will always remember Griffey from his Academy Award worthy acting performance in the film Little Big League. Honorable mention: Randy Johnson.

Martin said...

Heyman is fucking terrible, in both the written word and on television. How anybody in the media who hires people think he's an expert, I'll never understand.