Make it happen.
You know you want to. He wants you to. Seattle wants you to. It might not realize it yet, but America wants you to do it, too. Hell, even Cincinnati wants you to do it.
Bring back the kid. Bring Ken Griffey Jr. back to Seattle.
Bring back his brilliant smile, his smooth stride and his effortless swing.
Bring back the face that saved Seattle baseball. The backwards-cap-wearing phenom that brought energy to the lifeless Kingdome. The outfield-wall-climbing centerfielder who became a national sensation. The power-hitting slugger whose name was once whispered in the same sentence as Ruth, Aaron and Mays.
Seattle wants him, even if some of us Mariner fans aren’t willing to admit it. Yes, Griffey enraged us with the way he whined his way out of town, dissing our brand new ballpark as he left. And yes, we felt he deserved to be punished for what he did to us. For breaking the hearts of the fans who cheered him as he blossomed from a scrawny kid with a world of potential into baseball’s preeminent power hitter. Many of us have taken shameful pleasure in seeing him suffer over the past few seasons. But Junior has paid his penance. He’s suffered enough. His life has been so miserable in Cincinnati, even we feel sorry for him.
Everyone knows you’ve been scouting him. He has seen the scouts, and told the Dayton Daily News he expects to be traded. And though he might say he doesn’t care where he goes, he doesn’t really want to go to L.A. or Atlanta. Griffey wants to go back to the city of his greatest successes. Nike gave him teal cleats for a reason. He wants to be a Mariner.
Give him that chance. Bring Junior back to Safeco Field, where he should have been soaking up the sun (or gray skies, as the case may be more often) in center field for years now. Let him reunite with Edgar, and form a new bond with Ichiro. Let him reminisce with Jamie Moyer, and pick Bob Melvin’s analytical brain.
We know the kid’s an injury waiting to happen. But that’s okay. It’s worth the risk. The Mariner players don’t need him, but the Mariner faithful do. We long to make good with one of our lost superstars. We haven’t been able to with Randy Johnson, because he plays in the NL. We’ll never be able to with Alex Rodriguez, because he’s a Yankee now. Even if Junior sits on the bench the whole season, we want him on our bench.
And what if Griffey does play? What if he hits 35 home runs and makes a couple of highlight reel catches? He’ll soak up the love, which will be good for his ego, the fans will get their reconciliation and the team will rake in the ticket and merchandising sales.
What’s more, with this move you can make your mark, Bill. Your biggest offseason move thus far was the acquisition of Raul Ibanez. A nice pickup, to be sure, but not a really remarkable one. And no, we didn’t feel the need to reconcile things with Ibanez, despite the fact that he too was a former Mariner. The point is, we don’t have a feel for you yet, but we’re worried you’re as conservative as your predecessor, Standing Pat Gillick. Be the anti-Pat. Carve your name into the Seattle sports scape with a bold stroke.
You’ve got the money. The Mariners are one of Major League Baseball’s top revenue machines. Convince Howard Lincoln and the fellas upstairs that it’s worth the monetary risk. That if Griffey pans out, you’ll recoup the $60 some million he’s owed over the next five years. Point out that the Reds are so sick of him, they might agree to take on some of that money just to get him off their hands. Remind management of his national appeal. Of the way kids not just in the Pacific Northwest, but across the nation, used to pay attention to the Mariners because of him. With Junior, you could put the team back in the national spotlight, where they haven’t been since the 116-win season in 2001.
Do it, Bill. Before the trade window closes and he goes somewhere else. Before the Mariners fall into mediocrity and obscurity. Before the fans cast you aside as the latest fiscal tight wad of a GM. Before the magical memory of 1995 fades even further into the background.
Make it happen.
Bring back Griffey.