RETURN OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
‘God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!
Why look’st thou so? With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
— From Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Ancient Mariner has returned! Ken Griffey Jr., 39, decided to sign with his original team after deliberating between the sentimental choice versus playing close to home with the Atlanta Braves. Some news accounts earlier in the week were erroneously reporting that Griffey had chosen the Braves.
I was surprised. I had expected Griffey to stay close to home, but obviously the lure of the sentimental return proved to be too great in the end. On one hand, it is a nice story to see his return to Seattle. The fans are excited, and he has the chance to end his career wearing the same uniform he started with. But on the other hand, he is a shell of what he used to be.
As a Cincinnati Red in a June 2007 series at Safeco Field against the Mariners, Griffey did say, “I think I owe it to the people of Seattle, and myself, to retire as a Mariner“.
Apparently, it was Griffey’s teenage daughter who helped seal the deal. Taryn Griffey plays for an AAU basketball team that’s based in the Atlanta area, but according to agent Brian Goldberg, “She told him, ‘Dad, I really think you should go back to the Mariners and not have any regrets about how you finished,” Goldberg said. “That kind of put it over the top.”
Griffey, with 611 career home runs, will play left field and DH for the Mariners.
Despite signing free agent pitchers Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami and trading for pitcher Javier Vazquez, this has been a disappointing off-season for the Atlanta Braves. In addition to losing out on Griffey, they failed in their attempts to sign or acquire Mike Hampton, A.J. Burnett, Rafael Furcal, and Jake Peavy. It also sounds like the Braves will look to fill their outfield needs internally, rather than pursue a trade for someone like Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher.
I’ll admit that it’s nice to see Griffey back in Seattle, but hopefully, we won’t be seeing any repeat headlines like this…
NEW OLD VISITORS
The Yankees had two visitors in camp today. Bernie Williams was invited to practice at the major league facility by manager Joe Girardi as he prepares for the World Baseball Classic. “Obviously he’s retired as a Yankee, but, you know, once you’re a Yankee, you’re always a Yankee,” Girardi said. Hmmm, I wonder if Mike Lowell knows that he is still a Yankee? 😉 The other visitor was owner George Steinbrenner, who is rarely seen in public these days. The frail 78-year-old owner was taken from the parking lot to Steinbrenner Field by golf cart, using a wheelchair to get to his office.
LET THE BATTLES BEGIN…
Nice to see that the Great Yankees-Red Sox War resume battle this week with the opposing points of view regarding a salary cap in Major League Baseball. Red Sox Owner John Henry called for a salary cap, and President Larry Lucchino criticized the Yankees’ spending on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. Yankees Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, never at a loss for words, fired back with “Along with a few other teams, we’re basically baseball’s stimulus package.” Say what you will about Hank, but he’s right. The Yankees pay a heavy price for their spending habits as evidenced by the high luxury taxes and revenue sharing they pay each year for exceeding the salary thresholds; money that is funneled to other teams. According to AP, the team paid about $110 million last season.
It’s exciting to see the Phoenix Suns return to their “offensive” ways. In the two games since Terry Porter was dismissed as coach, the Suns have scored a total of 282 points. Of course, the opponent in both games was the Los Angeles Clippers. But it’s exciting to see the team return to its fast-paced strategy. It doesn’t mean it will result in a championship, but it is fun to watch. I felt Terry Porter was a mistake when he was named to replace Mike D’Antoni since he was coming from a defensive-minded team like the Pistons. I know what much of the appeal to the Suns was, but they need to stick with the strengths. This is a great opportunity for interim coach Alvin Gentry.
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images
TIGER’S IN THE HOUSE
Tiger Woods has announced on his website that he’ll make his 2009 PGA Tour debut at the 2009 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship near Tucson, AZ February 23rd through March 1st. Tiger is the defending champ, and also won the event in 2003 and 2004. It will be exciting to see the new dad back in action!