Standoff: Seattle Mariners React To the Ken Griffey Jr. Sleeping Story

Scotty KimberlyAnalyst IMay 12, 2010

SEATTLE - APRIL 30:  Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #36 of the Seattle Mariners sits in the dugout prior to the game against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on April 30, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Last night, Cliff Lee sat ready to discuss his first win as a Mariner with a host of reporters. That discussion didn’t start, however, until a certain news reporter had left the area.

Lee began to recount his performance, but quickly paused and said that he would not continue until the reporter from the Tacoma News Tribune had left the area.

On Monday, Tacoma News Tribune reporter Larry Larue wrote an article citing two anonymous Mariners players who stated that Ken Griffey Jr. had been asleep in the clubhouse when needed for pinch-hitting duties last week. The rest of the Mariners seemed to have taken offense to this assertion.

Veterans on the Mariners roster told the rest of the players not to speak with reporters from the Tacoma News Tribune, and according to Tribune writers, the players have followed through on this demand.

According to the article, Ken Griffey Jr. was found asleep in a clubhouse chair in the seventh inning of a game last week. Several Mariners players, including designated hitter Mike Sweeney, refuse to believe that that is the case.

“We don’t think there are two players who said that.” Sweeney told reporters. “I challenged everyone in that room, if they said that to stand up and fight me,” Sweeney continued, “Nobody stood up.”

Griffey echoed similar sentiments. “I’m just hoping whoever said it will be man enough to come to me.”

The team seems prepared to support Griffey through this controversy. Sweeney, one of the veteran clubhouse leaders, has said that the team will provide unequivocal support for Griffey.

“We will support [Griffey].” Sweeney told reporters. “Nothing is going to divide this clubhouse, especially a makeshift article made up of lies.”

Mariners players and the Tacoma News Tribune stand at an impasse. On one side sit Larry Larue and the Tacoma News Tribune.

Larue is an experienced sportswriter who has covered the Seattle Mariners for the Tribune since 1988; over two decades of work. On the other side sit the Seattle Mariners, in staunch support of Ken Griffey Jr.

Some Mariners players, like Mike Sweeney, maintain that the article is a lie. Gauging by his post-game interview, Cliff Lee seems to be on board. If Sweeney’s attitude is indicative of the clubhouse atmosphere, then there is no telling when Tribune reporters will regain access to player interviews.

Don’t expect the Tribune to roll over on these charges, however, as false reporting is a serious allegation in the field of journalism. Larue is a seasoned sportswriter, and had little motive to fabricate a story of this nature.

The stalemate continues, for now at least, loaded with questions over the validity of Larue’s article. Was Griffey actually asleep last week? If so, what players snitched on him to Larry Larue? Will this incident, if proven true, cause dissension in the Mariners’ clubhouse? Could this be the end for Ken Griffey Jr.?

The next few days are pivotal in this proverbial chess match between the Mariners and the Tacoma News Tribune. Let’s wait and see how it all plays out.