Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Yahoo! Sports: MLB - McGriff's sense of family leaves him short of Hall

Fred McGriff is the first baseman for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a pathetic baseball team that has one of the more clueless general managers in the sport. He signed with Tampa Bay a few years ago because he's from the area, and he wanted to be close to his family and relatives. He's a multi-millionaire, a potential Hall of Famer, and he could have probably signed with a better team, but for McGriff, family came first.

Last week, Tampa Bay wanted to trade McGriff to the Chicago Cubs for some prospects. The Cubs are one of the surprises of this season, leading their division, and could use a productive hitter like McGriff in their lineup to increase their chances of making it to the playoffs.

McGriff thought about it for five days, then said no. (He has a no-trade clause that allows him to turn down any trades) Naturally, this has a whole lot of people outraged. The writer of the above-linked article, Ken Rosenthal, believes that this decision should cost McGriff a spot in the Hall of Fame. Imagine that - a baseball player who has a different set of priorities. Most players choose where to play based on who will give them the highest salary, but here is a player who is more concerned about his wife and kids than baseball. Rosenthal is one of these people who forgets that to the players, baseball is a _job_. It's not a hobby or a lark. Sure, I'd love to spend six months a year playing baseball and getting paid for it. So what? Fred McGriff has played on a World Series-winning team, hit a bunch of home runs, and made a pile of money. He's in the twilight of his career. Why, all of a sudden, should baseball be more important than his family? Imagine the arrogance needed to tell McGriff that his family should take a back seat to baseball.

It's a job.

Let's say McGriff was an executive for a big company. He chose to work at the branch office closest to his home. Now, another branch office wants him to work for them, even though there are others who could also do that job. Moving to that branch office would require uprooting his family, leaving his home behind, and for what? So this other branch office might have a more profitable year? So he might get a little recognition out of it? That's worth the turmoil and stress you put on your family?

I think McGriff looked at the situation and figured, 'Hey, I don't really have anything left to prove. I have friends and family here, my kids are in good schools, and I'm enjoying a good life. My team loses a lot, and I don't like that, but I have a lot of friends on this team, and I'd feel like I was abandoning them to go play for a better team. It just isn't worth it to make this move.' McGriff is being attacked primarily because as a competitive athlete, many feel that it is his duty to play for a better team. Of course, if that really was the case, everyone would want to play for the Yankees, right? It's sad that Rosenthal would choose to judge McGriff on this decision without knowing much about his situation aside from the obvious. It's sad that Rosenthal would want to deny McGriff a deserved spot in the Hall of Fame because he doesn't agree with Fred's set of priorities.

Hey, Rosenthal. Baseball isn't everything. If you don't believe me, ask your wife.


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