Yes, it only took me until 2009 to join the 21st century and get my own blog. I believe there are now just 232 Americans who remain blogless. Probably most of them can be found here.
Welcome, come in, make yourself at home, and hopefully stay awhile. I hope to make this a fun, provocative place for baseball fans to talk about the issues of the day, whether it involves the Mariners or the major leagues at large. I’ll try to mix hard-core baseball with lighter, fun stuff, and provide lots of links to the most interesting stories I can find on the web.
We’ll start in earnest on Sunday. This is just a quick “howdy” to kick things off. I landed in Florida a short while ago for my annual Grapefruit League tour, which will begin at the Mets’ camp in Port St. Lucie. I’ll be chatting with J.J. Putz about his new life with the Mets, and his thoughts about the Mariners, past, present and future. I’ll tell you all about it right here when I get done.
This is my 15th year making the Florida rounds (first for the San Francisco Examiner in 1995, and since 1997 for the Seattle Times). When I get to Arizona in early March, it will be my 24th Cactus League stint, dating back to 1986, when I worked for the now-defunct Bellevue Journal-American. In a future post, I’ll relate some of my favorite spring training anecdotes. (Don’t let me forget to tell about Roger Craig and the cooler of beer).
So I get to my hotel room here at the beautiful Spring Hills Suites in Port St. Lucie (St. Lucie, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!), went for a quick bite at Duffy’s Sports Bar, and actually saw J.J. leaving the place with several of his new Mets’ teammates. He seemed to be fitting in quite nicely.
I was very surprised, after a long day in the air, to log onto my computer and read about the Braves entering the Griffey fray. According to this story by the plugged-in David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it sounds to me like it’s more than just a contract ploy, and that Griffey is viewing this as a serious option.
I tried to reach Griffey’s agent, Brian Goldberg, but I couldn’t. The parts about Griffey’s children (daughter, Taryn, who plays AAU basketball in Georgia, and son Trey, about to start varsity football in Orlando) gave me a strong sense of deja vu. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the same thing that drove Junior out of Seattle — wanting to be close to his family — is the same issue that keeps him from coming back? Oh, what a tangled web Griffey wove when he chose to live in Florida instead of Seattle two decades ago.
I know for a fact he’s always been enamored of the Braves since his father played for them in 1986-88 (check out the picture above to see how Senior looked in a Braves uni — and every other uni, for that matter). The Braves were one of the few teams, besides the Reds, that Griffey would have waived his no-trade clause for back in 1999, but Pat Gillick couldn’t work out a deal with Atlanta. Junior and Braves’ manager Bobby Cox have always had a good relationship, as O’Brien points out.
However, I wouldn’t say it’s in the bag for the Braves. If the Mariners want Griffey badly enough, they can probably still step up and get this done. The thing is, though, the Mariners had genuine ambivalence all winter about whether or not to bring back Griffey. And now it appears Griffey has genuine ambivalence about whether he wants to come back to Seattle, despite indications all along that he very badly wanted to “come home.” Harold Reynolds, his old buddy, told me this last week: “I know he’d love to be back there. I don’t know what they’re waiting for. He’s personally told me he’d love to be in Seattle.” Now we read in the Atlanta paper that he’s “extremely interested” in playing for the Braves. Hmmmm. It’s going to be fascinating how this plays out. My hunch is there’s a whole lot of machinations and maneuvering going on behind the scenes right now.
Before I end these Opening Day ceremonies, I’d like to thank Dave Grosby of KJR-AM for coining the phrase “Hot Stone League” several years ago for our weekly radio show together. Gros, it was just too good to pass up for this blog, because it captures exactly what I’m striving for. BTW, you can catch me with Gros and Gas every Tuesday on KJR 950, usually at 4:05 p.m.
Thanks also to Geoff Baker, who runs the best and most innovative beat blog I’ve seen, for blazing the trail. I don’t think I’ll be quite as technologically advanced as Geoff (who am I kidding? I won’t be close to as technologically advanced as Geoff; but I’m trying to learn stuff, I really am). Still, I hope to inspire the same sort of passion from participants. Many of you, I hope, got to know me from my stints filling in for Geoff during his frequent and exotic vacations (just kidding, big guy. They weren’t always exotic).
I feel like Jay Leno finally getting his own show after guest-hosting for Carson for so long (Yes, I’ll fill the blog with topical pop culture references like this). Except in this case, Carson — Baker — is going to keep his show, too. Trust me, we’re not in blog competition. We’ll be cross-referencing each other’s work (check out Geoff’s latest thoughts on Griffey, with some great inside info on Atlanta’s interest) and maybe even having a blog debate or two.
Talk to you soon. Please pick up after yourselves.