Mike Huss

"The Fuss
According to Huss"

St. Louis Sports Online
lead columnist and host of "Sportstalk" on WGNU AM-920

(7:00-8:00 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays)

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What Story?

posted July 8, 2000

As the temperature and humidity heats up during this first week of July, so does the first great debate of the summer of 2000. Does it deal the Cardinal pitching staff? Tony La Russa? Ray Lankford? A new stadium?

No, No, No, and No. The latest and greatest controversy doesn't even deal with a player with the birds on the bat on his uniform. It doesn't even deal with the game on the field.

The burning question on everyone's mind these days is: did Cincinnati Red Superstar Ken Griffey, Jr. actually contact cable network ESPN to complain about the over-exposure of St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Jim Edmonds on their airways?

If you really care, your side on this debate depends who you prefer to believe.

This episode began when the talented St. Louis Post-Dispatch Lead Columnist Bernie Miklasz, wrote in his July 6 piece: "We're told that Edmonds received a phone call from a prominent ESPN employee recently, tipping him off to an unusual development. According to a source, Griffey called ESPN to complain that too many Edmonds highlights are being shown on the nightly "SportsCenter" wrap-up show."

Well, Junior?

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"I have no idea what's ESPN's number, let alone call ESPN," Griffey said. "The person who wrote it ... how come he didn't reveal his source? Why would I call ESPN to tell them to do something I have no control over who they show or what they show?"

"Ken Griffey Jr. says he didn't call ESPN to complain about the network's flattery toward St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds". Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, says Griffey didn't call ESPN. "There is no way Junior is going to call them to complain about Jim Edmonds," Goldberg said. "It doesn't make sense."

ESPN spokeswoman Diane Lamb also said Griffey had not called the network. SportsCenter host Dan Patrick said Griffey had not called him. "(Griffey) has called to talk to Harold Reynolds in the past," Patrick said. "I don't know what the exact conversation was - whether it was serious or in fun. But Harold has been a sounding board for him."

Yet, according to Hal Mc Coy of the Dayton Daily News: "Meanwhile, ESPN's Dan Patrick said on his nationwide radio show Wednesday and Thursday that Griffey called the network more than once and that he called once from the Cincinnati dugout."

I received an e-mail from a colleague last night on this issue claiming that Patrick was even more definitive on his July 5 radio show making the following remarks: "Ken Griffey Jr. called ESPN because he thought we were showing too many Jim Edmonds highlights. I'm not sure why that affects Junior, but it does. Junior has called ESPN before to complain about ESPN. He hates ESPN. Ken Griffey Jr. hates ESPN because he thinks we go out of our way to showcase people he doesn't like or we go out of our way to showcase things Junior does wrong."

How about that? A real live soap opera right here in our town. Who needs "the Young and the Restless", or "the Guiding Light", or "Dawson's Creek"? This new soap has got it all: money, power, greed, jealousy, and ego. Perhaps the networks should buy the story rights since they appear to be on a programming fetish with Survivor and Big Brother?

Squawk radio and the Internet are having a field day with this latest story. Last night on my WGNU Sport Show, Griffey/ESPN was Topic Numero Uno on the callers' mind.

So boys and girls out there in internet-land: whom you believe, Bernie or Junior?

My answer, with all due respect to my friend Mr. Miklasz: WHO CARES!! Why is so much newspaper, Internet space and as radio/TV air time being wasted on this story?

In MY opinion, Ken Griffey, Jr. contacting (or not) ESPN is NOT a sports story. Rather it is a news story about a sports person.

This Griffey saga is like Tony Twist winning a lawsuit and the NFL banning the "Bob & Weave". It should be treated as the multiple of arrests/off the field antics of the players in that rich and arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League. These have absolutely, positively NOTHING to do with the game. To ME, what occur at and pertains to the game itself are the ONLY sports topics that are relevant.

Ken Griffey, Jr. is one of the best baseball players in the Major Leagues today. He is rightfully paid handsomely for his services. Should Mr. Griffey, Jr. want to contact a cable network to complain about the content of its programming, that is his right. He certainly would not be the first multi-millionaire to demonstrate eccentricity.

Still, I am amazed with all the attention Junior and ESPN are getting on this story. I am waiting to see #30 with his cap on backward strolling through the streets of Bristol, Connecticut to promote "Baseball Tonight". Both sides are getting way too much publicity on this. Their lawyers and accountants should jump at this free opportunity.

Sorry folks, I would just assume not promote it, thank you.

Sports fans in general and baseball fans in particular are curious of watching their heroes off the field. It is baseball's version of Tales of the Rich and Famous.

But, Griffey, Twist, Bob and Weave, and such stories are better served for the tabloids. I am more concerned about the extent of Mark Mc Gwire's knee injury, a search for a left-handed relief pitcher, and a final decision on the Cardinal closer for the second half.

(I realize by writing these paragraphs, I too am violating my own rules by promoting this story. So feel free at this time to yell at me at the top of your lungs: WHO CARES!!)

The Cardinals will not play the Cincinnati Reds until Friday night September 29 to open the final series of the regular season. Hopefully at that time, Gateway City Sports fans will be more concerned about the upcoming National League Playoffs, the first month of the Rams season, the final week of Blues training camp and college football.

In all likelihood, this ESPN story will be long forgotten. That is a very good thing.

Because, you know, we really all do have more important things to worry about.

St. Louis Sports Online