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February 24, 2009 3:11 PM

Griffey's return to the Mariners

Posted by Letters editor

Sitting down to Sunday dinner, not the ballgame

Editor, The Times:

My, oh my. We have Ken Griffey Jr. back -- for more than $2 million ["The kid comes home," Times, page one, Feb. 19]. What about the teachers, school closures and jobs in the Seattle area?

Don't get me wrong, I think it is fantastic an athlete returning to Seattle will promote ticket sales for our beloved Mariners. Hopefully, one of the many who lost their jobs can afford a ticket, a hot dog and perhaps a soda.

It is time to embrace the basics, embrace the teachers and embrace the schools preparing young children to move forward. It's time to embrace each individual trying to make a living.

We do not need to spend millions on the Mercer mess and high-rise zoning or applaud contracts that could pay for a family-home foreclosure.

We need to focus on family. Period.

Let's get back to the basics like sitting down for Sunday dinner.

-- Pat Johnson, Seattle

The falling faithful

I'm as excited as anyone about the return of Ken Griffey Jr. to the Mariners ["Remember this smile?" page one, Feb. 22], if only to provide some temporary distraction to what is likely to be another rebuilding year.

I confess I'm somewhat confused by the public reaction, however. Why are the Seattle faithful falling all over themselves to welcome Griffey back when he single-handedly destroyed the team's negotiating leverage 10 years ago by publicly demanding a trade -- and to only the Cincinnati Reds?

At the time, the M's would have been able to command premium-established talent in return for Griffey, if he had not publicly eviscerated the M's hand. It's hard to imagine a more selfish-public act by a supposed "team player."

By comparison, Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) was run out of town when he signed a deal for $252 million with Texas. How many of us can honestly say that we would turn down an offer from our employer's competitor at such a price?

Why is public sentiment so firmly in support of Griffey -- who was never loyal to Seattle -- and so deeply opposed to a teammate who never demanded a trade publicly, never disparaged the M's publicly and simply took the money and ran?

I'm certainly not an A-Rod defender or a Griffey hater, simply curious why the media and public bow down to one and not the other.

-- Steve Calandrillo, Seattle

A laser-guided missile

Just why is it that Ken Griffey Jr.'s return to Seattle means so much to us?

August, 1990. With nothing to lose, the Mariners pulled a late-season stunt and signed Ken Griffey Sr. to their roster to close out the season. So the stage was set: the first time that a father and son would play together in the Majors.

I went down to the Kingdome and got a seat about ten rows behind the left-field wall. The Kansas City Royals and Bo Jackson were in town.

I'll never forget watching Junior and Senior as they threw the ball to each other in warm-ups, laughing and ribbing each other as they practiced effortless, left-handed long-tosses that mediocre, high-school-baseball players like me only dreamed of doing.
Ken Griffey Sr. came to the plate; he was batting second. I'll never forget how nervous he looked on the Kingdome's massive-projection screen. But all 40,000-plus fans in that old, drab concrete tomb were on their feet, cheering him on, pulling for the old man as if the World Series was on the line.

Base hit to right field.

I thought the Kingdome was going to collapse because of the screaming. It was crazy.
Junior, of course, was batting third in the lineup. He immediately slapped a single to right field in the very same spot his father just hit one. Again, the Kingdome shook to its bones.

More base hits had both Griffeys running as though their lives depended on it: Senior lumbering around third base in a wide arc like a determined, but aged, work horse. And Junior, the laser-guided missile, not far behind.

Safe. M's up 2-0.

Through that pandemonium, I remember the Griffeys embracing each other, breathless and satisfied that they not only both got hits and scored; they didn't let down all the people who showed up to witness history.

Later in the game, old man Griffey paternalistically fielded the ball off the wall, pivoted and blindly threw a one-hop strike to Harold Reynolds covering second, nailing the unsuspecting Jackson for the out.

As the irreverent Kingdome roar pushed the bewildered Jackson back to the dugout, I caught a glimpse of Junior in center field, crouched down, his glove up in his face, laughing, but also awe-struck at his father's heroics.

Believe me, Kenny, the sense of unbridled joy and family pride you felt toward your father is the same feeling you will get from thousands of fans when you step onto Safeco Field this spring in a Mariners uniform.

Welcome home.

-- Jon Coney, Portland, Ore.

Honing the hoopla

When Ken Griffey Jr. left the Seattle Mariners over a decade ago, the fans, as well as the print and broadcast media, were not so understanding. Griffey's trade to the Cincinnati Reds was met with much criticism amid rumors of chasing the big dollars, but he took a pay cut instead.

All he wanted to do was be a little closer to his family.

The "Big Unit's" (Randy Johnson) departure to the Arizona Diamondbacks didn't get nearly the kind of negative publicity, nor did Alex R-O-I-D-riguez after being traded to the Texas Rangers.

So, the question is: Why all the hoopla over a returning aged player who is playing in perhaps his last season of professional baseball before retirement and very likely induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Pa.

Is it because Ken Griffey Jr. is a hometown prodigy, who has finally decided to end his career where in began: in front of the local fans who have finally forgiven him for leaving in the first place.

--- Robert Randle, Tacoma

The bigger heroes

Our country faces many challenges, but your Feb. 19, front-page story is about Ken Griffey Jr. coming back to play for the Mariners.

Not all citizens are wrapped up in tabloid-type, celebrity worship like this. No, most of us are concerned about raising our children to be respectful, self reliant and productive members of society, and paying our taxes.

In short, we're too wrapped up in striving to be our children's biggest heroes through our honest efforts to make an honest living to care about something as mundane as Griffey's return.

The Times needs to get its priorities straight. Leave sports stories in the sports section and save room for real news.

-- Phil Corrado, Kent

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