Editor Note: Folks we’re having technical problems so to continue the conversation on this topic please go to http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2009/02/19/griffey-to-atlanta-nevermind-2/
Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Uh, oh.
Ken Griffey Jr. crushed the Braves’ hopes Wednesday night, and did a pretty good number on my evening, too.
Two days after Griffey told a close friend that he planned to sign with the Braves — which we reported in the AJC, to the chagrin of Griffey, his agent, and the Braves — the outfielder reversed course and decided to go to the Mariners, the team he played for during the first 11 seasons of his illustrious career.
It’s the fourth time in four months the Braves fell short pursuing a star they thought they had a good chance to get (including one, Rafael Furcal, they said they had an oral agreement with) and now general manager Frank Wren will have to look elsewhere to boost an outfield that had just 27 homers in 2008.
It was a stunning reversal for the Braves, after they read and heard many reports that indicated Griffey was going to sign with Atlanta to stay closer to his family in Orlando and play for manager Bobby Cox.
Braves players came to the ballpark Wednesday hoping Griffey might be suited up for their first full-squad workout. They’ll come to the ballpark Thursday morning asking what the hell happened.
“All signs are good,” third baseman Chipper Jones said Wednesday morning, but he was quick to add that he wouldn’t get too excited until Griffey signed on the dotted line. Previous experience this offseason had made Jones very cautious with his optimism. Smart man.
Jones had talked to Griffey daily for the past week and seemed confident he was coming to the Braves. “But I’m not going to smile until he’s signed,” Jones said, alluding to the previous times the Braves were jilted this winter.
Well, he’s signed. With the Mariners.
And for the past three hours or so, I’ve taken a beating on the ol’ blog here. Hey, bring it. I hear ‘ya and understand the passion. Your team has taken you on a rollercoaster of emotions a bunch of times this winter, but all in all, this isn’t nearly as impactful as, say, losing out on Jake Peavy or even Rafael Furcal, who’d have been the leadoff man the Braves lack.
Griffey was going to be a platoon left fielder, most likely. The Braves can still go get another free agent, like Garret Anderson, if they want to. Or suck it up and spend a couple extra mill, if necessary, to take on the salary of a Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady, giving up a prospect or two in such a deal if that’s what it takes, if that’s what they believe is really necessary to shore up this lineup.
In the meantime, here’s a response I had to one of the many scathing missives directed at me on the other blog tonight, before I posted this new one.
Occasionally you’re going to be castigated by angry fans for reporting something that doesn’t turn out as planned, and in this case what obviously makes it worse is published speculation at MLB.com that our story had something to do with Griffey’s decision.
And I’m not blaming Mark Bowman at all for writing it, because I was standing there today when Frank Wren said Griffey’s agent all but ended communication with the Braves right after our AJC story came out Tuesday.
But let’s be clear: What we wrote was a story that said Griffey told a close friend that he had decided to play for the Braves over the Mariners. We wrote it, because that’s what the close friend told our Terry Moore, who goes back a long way with them (Moore is from Cincy, like Griffey).
We did not write that Griffey had agreed to a contract, or that he’d even told the Braves he was going to sign with them. We wrote that Griffey told his good friend that he had decided to play for the Braves.
Now, as for the headline in today’s paper, I knew nothing of it until tonight, when someone at the paper informed me that it said “Griffey to play for Braves.” Folks, I’m in Florida, and I send my stories to the paper, not headlines. I have absolutely no control over headlines in the paper.
Far as I know, neither Mark Bradley nor I wrote that Griffey was definitely going to play for the Braves. Again, we wrote that he told his friend that he’d decided to play for the Braves. And that it looked like a deal would get done.
Now, if our story actually had any influence on Griffey’s decision, if Griffey is actually flighty enough to change such an important decision, to go play across the continent after telling others that he was going to play for Atlanta in large part because of the proximity to his family … well, then I’m flabbergasted.
If that’s actually the case. If he’d let his purported anger over that story affect his decision … well, that just seems a bit far-fetched to me.
Anyway, we wrote a story that said he’d told a friend he would be playing for Atlanta this season. Now he’s going to play for Seattle, and I’ll take a beating on the blog. But I’m a big boy. I can live with that.
If we’d written something that was erroneous, if I’d written that Griffey had agreed to terms with the Braves, that’d be one thing. We did not write that, at least I don’t think we did.
Anything I said on this blog the past two days, about how I still believed he was coming to play for the Braves, etc., I was giving you my opinion. I thought that was understood. This is a blog. I give opinions.
Again, I can live with the harsh criticism. Goes with the job, once in a while when something like this happens. Hopefully, just once in a great while.
Now, as I promised in this morning’s blog I would do if he changed his mind, here’s a new song for Ken Griffey Jr.
“GOING, GOING, GONE” by Bob Dylan
I've just reached a place Where the willow don't bend. There's not much more to be said It's the top of the end. I'm going, I'm going, I'm gone. I'm closin' the book On the pages and the text And I don't really care What happens next. I'm just going, I'm going, I'm gone. I been hangin' on threads, I been playin' it straight, Now, I've just got to cut loose Before it gets late. So I'm going, I'm going, I'm gone. Grandma said, "Boy, go and follow your heart And you'll be fine at the end of the line. All that's gold isn't meant to shine. Don't you and your one true love ever part." I been walkin' the road, I been livin' on the edge, Now, I've just got to go Before I get to the ledge. So I'm going, I'm just going, I'm gone.