A strange day at Mariners camp

This has  been one of the most bizarre days of my 39-year career covering Major League Baseball.

When I read early Tuesday morning that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a story that said  Ken Griffey Jr. had made his decision to play for the Braves in 2009, I called Junior’s agent to make sure the story was correct.

Brian Golberg anwered the call and, listened to my question, and said the story wasn’t accurate and Griffey still hadn’t made a decision.

Moments later, a voice came on the phone that said, “Hey, how you doing?”

After covering Griffey for the Seatte Post-Intelligencer from 1986 through 1998, I immediately recognized the voice.

Hello, Junior. How you doing?

He told me that he had not made a decision on whether to play for the Mariners or Braves next season and it was difficult because he “loved Seattle” and Mariners fans so much. But he also said the Braves, who were not even a team he was considering until the past week, had offered him a chance of play for a team close to his Orlando, Fla. home. He basically was torn between two the two cities.

Knowing Junior the way I do, I knew exactly what he was talking about. He is a teriffic family man and is wife, Mielissa, and three kids, are the most important things in his life. Junior is as genuine as it gets when it comes to family,

Until the Braves entered the picture, he was ready to sign a contract with the Mariners.

But the Braves offered something the Mariners couldn’t — proximity to his home in Orlando, Fla. It is a powerful thing, one that could sway Junior to sign with the Braves. That is something I expect to happen sometime on Wednesday.

When it happens, the Journal-Constitution will report that they were correct all along.

I don’t know one of the co-authors, David O’Brien, but I do know the other writer, Terence Moore, having worked alongside him many times in the 1980s when both of us worked in the San Francisco Bay Area — he for the San Franciso Examiner and me for the San Jose Mercury-News. I have great respect for Terence, but someone jumped the gun on this one. As Goldberg said later in the day, the report was based onb “bad information.”.

Needless to say, the scene in the press room at the Peoria Sports Complex — and perhaps in Orlando as well — was weird after MLB.com posted the comments from Griffey, who denied  the reports that he had reached agreement with the Braves.

Stories and blogs that said Griffey was heading for Atlanta, according to unnamed, but yet impeccable sources, were suddenly not as accurate when Junior said “I haven’t made decision.”

The scene would make a wonderful Mariners TV commercial, the kind that wins awards. One writer had the audacity to say Griffey was lying about the whole thing and insisted that his “source” was accurate that a deal had was done.

I expect Junior to play for the Braves next season, but if you hear anyone say, or write, “I told you so”, ignore it and laugh just a little, while at the same time agonizing over the probability that Griffey won’t be playing in Seattle season.

But remember his: he is signing a one-year contract and there is always next year..

— Jim Street

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