Griffey explained that he was wrestling with his two youngest children, Tevin and Taryn, when then-12-year-old son Trey joined in. It was at that point when an awkward fall had the elder Griffey land on his left throwing hand. “He just doesn’t know his own strength yet,” Griffey said of Trey, now 13. “He’s at that age where he’s getting to be a man. A little leverage and a little height helped. I also didn’t want to land on my 4-year-old, too”…Trey took the accident hard, but Griffey was quick to offer his son consolation. “It was one of those things. We were messing around, and he got me,” Griffey said. “I just told him it was an accident. ‘I’m your dad, better me than you.’ It’s going to happen.”
Because I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan and not a Seattle Mariners fan. Sure, I enjoyed watching him play, and I appreciated his attitude, but I’m a Reds fan; so while I admired his game I could only dream of the Cincinnati native wearing the Reds uniform.
Then the dream came true. As is always the case, however, reality is much different from the dream. Griffey arrived in the Queen City the year after their improbable 99 win season. The 2000 team was basically the same as the ‘99 team, except for the outfield where Dante Bichette replaced Greg Vaughn in left (Jeffrey Hammonds was traded to the Rockies for Bichette and Vaughn became a free agent) and Junior Griffey replaced Mike Cameron in center.
Obviously the Reds are headed to the Series right? I never thought so, but my opinion was in the minority. Everyone, seemed to think that adding Griffey to the team meant an automatic postseason appearance. What few people were willing to realize was the ‘99 team overachieved. Pete Harnisch won 16 games. Steve Parris went 11-4. Scott Williamson won Rookie of the Year (his only solid year too, by the way.) “Trader Jack” McKeon made all the right moves as he platooned Michael Tucker and Jeffrey Hammonds in right, and as he found playing time for Dmitri Young in the outfield and infield corner positions. Sean Casey, Pokey Reese, and Eddie Taubansee all had career years. Barry Larkin had his last Barry Larkin like season. Even Jim Bowden made the right moves. He brought in Greg Vaughn before the season, and Vaughn smacked 45 HR and drove in 118 RBI. Bowden brought in Juan Guzman at mid-season. Guzman went 6-3 and he pitched well enough to have been 9-0.
If the 2000 Reds would have had the identical roster as ‘99 the team still would have hovered around .500. With Griffey hitting third and patrolling CF the sky was supposed to be the limit. Instead, the team finished just above .500 and Junior was blamed for not leading the team to the postseason.
2000 was Griffey’s best year in Cincinnati (145 games; .271, 40 HR, 118 RBI). Every year since has been cut short by injuries. Every year his critics, especially in the Cincinnati area, get louder and more obnoxious. You won’t hear that junk from me. It’s not as if Junior has gotten hurt by being stupid, and even if he’d have averaged 150 games per year you still must have pitching to win. Until last season the Reds had none.
Do I wish Griffey would have been healthy with the Reds? Absolutely! Am I happy that he’s still a Red? Absolutely! Am I bothered that he broke his left hand playing with his kids? Absolutely not!