Q. If it were up to SSI, would there be a Ken Griffey Jr. Way outside Safeco?
A. We sympathize with the urge to decide this question based on whether you like, or dislike, Ken Griffey Jr. as a person. And/or based on whether you think he betrayed the organization.
We sympathize, because that's what MLB franchises do too: they frequently seem to put players in their team HOF's based on whether the execs in power at the time personally like or dislike the player. Randy Johnson will be a case in point.
But a statue and a street, that is a question that transcends protests of "I find him a little annoying." Is that how Hall of Fame votes should be decided: did the voter personally like the player?
Hall of Fame elections, and statues, and who goes on the next Voyager disk, isn't primarily about who our friends are. They are about who were the greatest figures in the panorama of the game.
Ty Cobb isn't outside the park in Detroit because he was such a likeable guy. He's out there because he is the greatest figure in Tigers history, perhaps the greatest figure in baseball history.
As a MegaLegend of the game, Cobb's glory validates Detroit Tigers baseball.
Ken Griffey Jr. is not only a huge figure in Seattle sports, he is a huge figure in MLB history. For a considerable time, he was the most famous, and perhaps the best, player in baseball. He's one of the game's top five home run hitters.
Seattle fans are a little disoriented by Griffey's place in baseball. Our team not having any place in baseball history itself, we think on a small scale. We 1970's veterans are conditioned to think in terms of a player being great by Mariners standards. We don't even really think in terms of a player being great by baseball standards.
Edgar Martinez is not a great figure in the game of baseball. He's got a death-match on his hands, ever getting close to the Hall of Fame. Griffey? He may be unanimous on the first ballot. If there were only forty players in the HOF, he would be one of them.
And, guys, canceling his HOF or Statue ticket because Junior was a bad guy? Have you forgotten who Ruth and Cobb and Williams and Wagner were?
Junior didn't fix games; he wasn't a racist; he wasn't associated with the Mafia. He said a few things that didn't hit you quite right. C'mon. You think Mets and Red Sox fans have these conversations? :- )
Griffey is one of baseball's great figures -- and this baseball colossus stands astride of a Seattle sports landscape that is teeny-tiny in comparison to almost every other ML landscape.
Griffey would be a statue if he'd played for the Angels or Mets. How could he not be a statue, playing for the Mariners or Devil Rays?