Mariners Setting Dangerous Precedent


Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Ken Griffey, Jr. was asleep in the clubhouse when a pinch hit opportunity arose over the weekend.

Two anonymous Mariners ratted him out to Larry LaRue, the Mariners’ beat writer from the Tacoma News Tribune.  LaRue then blogged about it, and it’s sparked a little bit of controversy since.

The news, however, isn’t that Griffey slept through an opportunity to get in the game.  The news centers around LaRue.  As any journalist will tell you, that’s the last thing they want.

Junior Griffey's sweet swing is missing from Seattle these days.

The Mariners are now apparently refusing to talk when LaRue is around.  Cliff Lee went out of his way to stop his press conference last night after realizing LaRue was in the room, and other Mariners followed suit.

Are the Mariners out of line when they don’t talk to LaRue?  I think so.  It’s a stark reality that players have to face the journalists who have written something negative about them all the time.  There’s being professional and taking the high road, and then there’s doing what the Mariners did.

Should Aramis Ramirez and the Cubs stop talking to reporters because writers are criticizing the team?  What about LeBron James and the Cavs?  The Mariners are the only ones going out of their way to remove one reporter just for doing his job.

Larry LaRue didn’t do anything wrong here.  What he did was try and find out why manager Don Wakamatsu didn’t call on Junior to pinch hit.  What he got was a couple of youngsters tell him that Junior was asleep in the clubhouse.  LaRue then reported that information, without identifying the players who gave him the information.

He didn’t take shots at Griffey, nor does he have any apparent sort of grudge against Junior.  He simply stated facts.  Facts that maybe nobody wants to hear, but facts nonetheless.

Now he’s being unfairly singled out by the team.

Kudos go to the Mariners for sticking up for their guy, especially a guy who means as much to Seattle as Ken Griffey Jr. does.  But LaRue was just doing his job, trying to get to the bottom of unanswered questions.

We might never find out who ratted on Griffey, but the Mariners themselves apparently did, because as part of a players-only meeting, the veterans called out the young kids for saying what they said.   That’s according to a source who told ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian.  But Mike Sweeney said that when he challenged those who spoke to LaRue to come forward, nobody did.

How would we know whether Sweeney was telling the truth?  It was a players-only meeting, right?  It all sounds to me like a team trying to cover up a mildly embarrassing story for the best player in their franchise’s history.

LaRue deserves the opportunity to do his job.  He’s been the team’s beat writer since 1988.  That’s 22 years for crying out loud.  Maybe that means players think he should be loyal to them, but in reality he’s a journalist who’s going to do his job.

The truth is, this will all blow over in a week or two.  It wouldn’t even be an issue if Griffey wasn’t hitting so poorly.  The sooner the Mariners players realize that LaRue just had a job to do, the better.  The Mariners clearly have plenty more problems to deal with, like trying to score runs and win games.  They’ve been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and they need to do what they can to make this go away.

Maybe a public apology is in order?

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