Saturday, August 4, 2007

Griffey Deserves All-Time Best Billing

Here is a spattering of comments from The Sporting forum, which I find typical, concerning Ken Griffey Jr. and the "What Could Have Been" scenario:
...Ken Griffey Jr. has the most beautiful swing in baseball. He has used it with tremendous power over the past decade and a half but he had a potential for much, much more. wvthundr Blog

..Still one of the greatest outfielders though. Will unfortunately go down as one of the "how good would he have REALLY been" stories... hotlanta25 Blog

...If it weren't for Griffey's injury problems I could easily have seen him on pace to either break Aaron's record this year or next. It's a shame that he had to go through all the problems he has had because when he is healthy he is still as deadly as ever. tbeals7 Blog

It's sad to think about the talent being wasted by injuries with Junior Griffey... MFazio23 Blog
You get the idea, and I know you have heard it all before. I think this is the wrong way to evaluate Griffey. Unfortunately for him, he has had the bad luck to have his misfortunes at the end of his career instead of the beginning. I rarely hear anyone saying, "Well, Sandy Koufax would have been one of the best ever if it weren't for those first six years of his career." (In which he averaged six wins and a 4.04 ERA.)

Sure, Griffey might be pushing his way further up all-time lists if injuries had not come calling. But is anyone claiming Jim Brown is not one of the best, if not the best, football players ever because he only played nine years? Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the best baseball players ever. Period.

As a Reds fan I regret not getting Griffey's best years here in Cincinnati. That said, he had enough "best years" in Seattle (and has been nowhere near a "bad" player, when healthy, in Cincinnati) to easily be considered with Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams on the short list of greatest outfielders of all-time. In fact, when the All-Century team was announced in 1999 Griffey was the only active position player who made the starting lineup. (Griffey finished 8th. Barry Bonds? 18th. And remember, Griffey is five years younger than Bonds.)

Has Griffey become a worse player since 1999? Much less so than Willie Mays was with the Mets. Stop the, "Well, he could have had 700 HR by now" talk. Ted Williams could have had some insane numbers had the Japanese not bombed Pearl Harbor. Babe Ruth might not have had the numbers he put up had baseball been integrated. (That topic is for another day...)

I understand discussions such as this - comparing eras, who's the best and who's a bum, etc. - are why sports talk radio exists and are near-and-dear topics of sports fans everywhere, including myself. The four letter network appears to revel in this inanery lately with their Who's Now and top 50 future football Hall of Famer shenanigans.

Stop evaluating Griffey on what coulda-shoulda-woulda been. At age 30 Ken Griffey Jr. was one of the greatest players of all-time. Today, at age 38, he is still one of the greatest players of all-time. And my oh my, what a swing....

No comments:

Post a Comment