Ken Griffey Jr. hates the Yankees. There’s no disputing it and you can’t blame him. Many moons ago, Graig Nettles’ son was allowed on the field but a young Griffey wasn’t. It’s hard to say why. Maybe there were racial undertones in that moment? You don’t want to think that the Yankees would be racially motivated but then again, in a post-Bill Cosby world where America’s dad turned out to be satan, well, nothing really surprises me.
You can listen to him explain his hate below (On a side note Derek Jeter would never talk down to a fan the way Griffey did in this video. Just saying.)
This is why Ken Griffey Jr is my favorite baseball player of all time. Not the swing. Not the swag. Not the unbelievable talent. Just the fact that he hates the Yankees & all their lame bullshit as much as I do. Everyone should hate that team like The Kid pic.twitter.com/zfljOLeOqJ
— KFC (@KFCBarstool) June 22, 2020
Griffey took that moment to heart and on Sunday night those old wounds came up again on the MLB Network Father’s Day special dedicated to him. I’m not going to sit here and call him a baby. I love holding a grudge so I can relate to Griffey there. Here is what I don’t understand about this whole thing though. Griffey’s grudge coming back up to the surface is being seen as this thing where he was one-upping the Yankees. It’s as if to say the Yankees missed out on him.
Here’s the thing. They didn’t.
We remember the good years of Griffey, but the last decade of his career, where he played mostly with the Reds, was a mess. Look at the amount of games Griffey played from 2000 to 2010.
2000 – 145
2001 – 11
2002 – 70
2003 – 53
2004 – 83
2005 – 128
2006 – 109
2007 – 144
2008 – 143
2009 – 117
2010 – 33
In that time, Griffey missed 484 games, played over 140 games three times and when he was on the field, he totalled just a 9.2 fWAR. He had five seasons with a negative WAR, four seasons that were between a 0 and 2 WAR, one season between 2-3 WAR, 0 between a 4-5 WAR and just one, his first year in Cincinnati, above a 5 WAR.
In that time between 2000 and 2010, the Yankees had three outfielders with a higher WAR than Griffey. Johnny Damon had a 13.3 WAR, Hideki Matsui had a 12.6 WAR and Bernie Williams had a 10.9 WAR. You also had Nick Swisher with a 7.4 WAR, Bobby Abreu with a 6.7 WAR and Gary Sheffield with a 6.5 WAR. We can celebrate Griffey for his years on the Mariners, but it’s just statistically and factually untrue to say the Yankees missed out on him.
New York Media vs. Griffey?
Look at the way the New York media handles athletes spending a weekend on a boat. Imagine how they’d react to a high caliber athlete such as Griffey spending more time on the DL than on the field? We already see the way they freak out over Giancarlo Stanton, and he has only been here for three seasons with one of those seasons cut short by a freak once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.
Hell, look at the treatment A-Rod got. People still remember some of those tough playoff appearances he had and hold it over his head. Other than that steroid thing, and every year in the playoffs other than 2009, he was always on the field. Griffey would have ended up being the most eviscerated athlete in New York history. It’s Carl Pavano times a thousand. After Griffey’s fourth straight year of playing under 100 games, George Steinbrenner would have called him Mr. DL.
He wouldn’t even give him a sarcastic month like May the way he did for Dave Winfield. That would mean he was on the field. If in that universe where Griffey signed with the Yankees and didn’t hate them, by the time his tenure was complete, he probably would have when he was done.