. . . is the sound of a superstar being wooshed away from the city. It looks like Ken Griffey Junior has approved a trade to the Chicago White Sox and the experiment is over.
We were moving into our second apartment in Bridgetown when his trade from Seattle was announced over eight years ago. This was following up an unbelievable 1999 season where the Reds [under Jack McKeon] made it to a one-game playoff to win the Wild Card. It seemed like the pieces were in place and, with a new stadium under construction, I honestly believed that a World Series was in our future.
But it wasn't.
Junior was often injured. His conspiring with Barry Larkin led to Jack Mack's ousting. The owner of the franchise went cheap, until he gave Larken a ridiculous contract extension that hand-cuffed this team.
It's been eight miseable years. I really didn't have too many problems with what Griffey did on the field. He was injured: not much you can do about that. But I would offer that in his time here in Cincinnati, he held back the franchise to the extent that his absence will be better for everyone.
While I appreciate the athletic brilliance of Griffey [mostly displayed before he arrived in Cincinnati], he was not worth the price. Griffey is an amazing ballplayer, but he is not a leader. In fact, in my opinion, he is a leadership vacuum. Barry Larken deferred in his leadership after Griffey showed-up, almost expecting the superstar to take the lead. But he didn't; that's not his style. Even though Sean Casey didn't produce enough on the field to warrant his [at the time] large salary, he should have been retained for his leadership abilities alone. Who's the leader on this team? Griffey's presence trumped everything: he can't lead and he really can't be a follower. But as a superstar, he was always the center of attention.
As the Reds continued to bring in young players who needed someone to guide them, management brought in managers that could not overcome the leadership vacuum created by Griffey. Jerry Narron benched Edwin Encarnacion for not running out a flyball last year. That's why Griffey wasn't too keen Griffey did the same thing on multiple occasions last year and nothing happened to him. McKeon demanded that out of Griffey and he was run out of town [to Florida . . . where he won a World Series]. When you have a system with two sets of rules, there can be no unity. And the ballclub has suffered.
Depending on what happens to Dunn, I think that Brandon Phillips is primed to emerge as the on-field leader of this team. No way this would've been possible with Junior here. And, perhaps, this will allow Dusty Baker to be a little more harsh with this club. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.
I have no ill-feelings for Griffey. In Chicago he'll have a more demanding manager who is the undisputed leader of that team. It'll probably be good for him.
It's the end of a Reds era. And I'm ready to move on.
With Adam Dunn traded to the Diamondbacks, this truly is the end of an era in Reds baseball. I would just suggest that this makes it even more important that Edinson Volquez pan out to be a perennial All-Star pitcher. Otherwise, the Josh Hamilton trade is even more of a disaster with the state of the Reds' outfield.