June 03, 2010
Thanks for playing, Kid, and we'll see you in Cooperstown come 2016.
Well, there's a loophole — not that Griffey necessarily would take it — but a loophole exists that gives the public one last option to see ol' Junior in action.
The All-Star Game in Anaheim.
Griffey is still listed on the ballot, of course, and he has accumulated several hundred thousand votes as a designated hitter. He trails the leader, Vladimir Guerrero(notes), by about 400,000 votes. It's a big margin to overcome, especially for a player who is, well, not playing anymore.
Griffey, 40, finished the 2010 season with a .184 batting average and no home runs. His final season in the majors wasn't a triumphant victory lap but instead something of an embarrassment.
And yet, we all know that Griffey is just one concentrated word-of-mouth effort from winning the darn election.
I mean, let's say someone starts a Facebook group and ... oh, boy. It's already been done.
Griffey's group is tiny at the moment, but all it takes is some publicity — blogger looks around innocently — a little enthusiasm and these things take on a life of their own.
Just ask Betty White.
One of my favorite childhood baseball memories is the 1983 All-Star Game at Comiskey Park. Fred Lynn's grand slam — that game. Well, the event was made even more special by the appearances of Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski — probable Hall of Famers at the time — who just happened to be in their final seasons.
By special decree (commissioner Bowie Kuhn twisted some arms) Bench and Yaz were added to the respective rosters. Neither was particularly All-Star worthy, but it was a way for fans to say good-bye to a couple of hugely popular players. Each guy went 0-for-1.
Considering the weight the All-Star Game now carries for the World Series, it's not likely that Bud Selig would anoint a retired Griffey to the AL squad. And say what you will about Bench and Yaz, at least they hadn't actually stopped playing yet. And neither kept deserving parties off the rosters; They were special extras.
But there's nothing stopping John Q and Ms. Public from voting in Junior. He's so popular — even now — it would be a mistake to assume it couldn't happen.
Please, no. Griffey stepped up and called it quits. He knew it was time and there will be plenty of times to honor him, like the rest of Ken Griffey Day on BLS.
So, let him go on this one. It's really for the best.