Ken Griffey Jr. made Atlanta Braves fans enjoy the All-Star break back in 2000 when the Braves hosted the 2000 All-Star Game at Turner Field.
From all the comments people have been making on baseball blogs and as responses to articles on the web, I find one opinion quite humorous.
'What's the big deal about Griffey? He's not what he was..." Tell me something I don't know already.
Ken Griffey Jr., formerly a given as a start for the All-Star team and a 40+ HR season, is now not the player he was at 39. Go figure sports analysts. How many players play as well at 39 as they did in their prime? I can think of two recent players, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
Wait, aren't they both on trial for using steroids?
Sure, there are players that play well even into their 40s, but those are the exceptions. Why are you surprised after so many injuries that a guy like Griffey hasn't put up 40 HR seasons into his late 30s? He doesn't take steroids, and naturally age takes its effect.
Now, back to the original point of all this rambling. Why would the Braves want him? Why would the Mariners want him? Why did the White Sox want him last year?
Despite nasty rumors, from what I can tell he is a good clubhouse presence. He has veteran leadership that the Braves could really use with the absence of John Smoltz.
His numbers "aren't what they used to be," but he still would be an upgrade to a Gregor Blanco or Matt Diaz against righties.
Most valuable of all though, I think he is a player for the fans. You know there is something special about a guy that can't seem to finish a year healthy, but still gets voted to the All-Star game by the fans. Griffey will help Atlanta fans find an interest in coming back to the ballpark again.
I'm not harping on the Braves faithful in Atlanta, I'm just saying attendance from 1997 to 1999, the Braves averaged over 40,000+ in the stadium. In 2009, the Braves averaged 31,269 per game. What happened?
Ken Griffey Jr. isn't going to help team batting average and HR stats like a Manny Ramirez or a Bobby Abreu, but he will help bring that attendance number back up. That's what the Braves need to help their franchise get back to the dominance they've had in the NL East for years.
With that in mind, Ken Griffey Jr. would certainly look good with a tomahawk across his chest and a fancy "A" on the front of his cap.