Haunted Northwest House?
Yankee Stadium was often called the house that Ruth built due to the fact that his popularity generated enough cash flow to build a new field.
He is still regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and when the New York stadium was built it was tailored to his hitting style. (Of course now the Yankees are in the house that Steinbrenner built, but that is a different story completely).
Ken Griffey Jr. is also considered to be one of baseball’s finest players ever to play the game. This is especially true considering that he appears to have remained clean during baseball’s scandalous steroid era, and remained competitive in the midst of home run battles with Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.
There is no doubt that the Seattle Mariners play in the house that Griffey built.
If it wasn’t for the popularity of Griffey and the excitement of the 1995 play off run, there is a good chance there wouldn’t even be pro baseball in Seattle any more.
Safeco field was obviously designed around Ken Griffey Jr, with the spacious outfield that could only really be covered by a gold glove caliber athlete and the shortest spot to hit a ball out of straight away right field.
Unfortunately Griffey only played one full season in Seattle after Safeco Field was built, and so the legacy that built the stadium has also haunted the Mariners in pigeonholing the team strategy.
The Mariners are living with the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr.
Here is why:
1. Left Handed Power
Due to the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr., the Mariners are forced to look for left handed power bats. The Seattle management is so busy trying to find a new bat like “the kid’s” that they have struggled putting the best offensive team together.
2. Replacement Parts
Due to the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr., the Mariners are required to have elite level outfielders to cover the surface area of the park. This eliminate athletes that could “get by” with other teams.
A prime example of this would be the switch hitting Milton Bradley who had an influential bat but far below average fielding ability.
And he was crazy, let’s not forget that.
The point is the team is so busy trying to replace Griffey’s glove that the offense continues to suffer as a result.
3. The next Jr. ?
Due to the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr., the Mariners struggle to find a true face of the organization. To some extent Ichiro took on that role the past decade, but even Ichiro didn’t fill the seats like the backwards cap wearing, prank pulling, home run belting Junior did.
Even when Jr returned to the Mariners in 2009 he was more of a far favorite than Ichiro ever was (unless you count the international draw Ichiro brought to the Mariners… )
The Mariners have to shake off the past and become a new team with a new strategy, it isn’t about moving in the fences to hit more home runs, but it is about trying to find ways to become a new team and shake off the ghosts that prevent the team from doing just that.
I love Griffey… I still have a poster of him in my office, but there has to be a reason that the M’s stink st home and perhaps it isn’t just something that happens on the field.
The ghost of Griffey is haunting us…
Or it could be I ate to many rally fries.