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McGriff should be admired

By By Rob Sigler
July 18, 2001
Fred McGriff has become a breath of fresh air in this age of win-at-all-costs sports mentality we live in.
The Tampa Bay Devil Ray first baseman, playing for what is perhaps the worst team in Major League Baseball, spurned the Chicago Cubs trade offer this week in order to play ball in his hometown.
Like the majority of athletes would have done, McGriff could have jumped onto a pennant contender in Chi-town instead of playing for the bottom feeders of pro baseball.
But citing the desire to stay in his hometown to be near his family, he instead evoked his no-trade clause in his contract to remain with the Devil Rays.
The 37-year-old has been around the big league block a time or two, having played for Atlanta, San Diego, Toronto and now Tampa Bay. Along the way, he's had to uproot his family from town to town, but now, in the twilight of his career, he is putting his family first.
The D-Rays are trying to jettison their sizable payroll for prospects and McGriff has become a hot commodity with the torrid stick he has been swinging lately. Just ask the Braves, who probably wouldn't mind having him in their lineup again.
But even if he decided to allow the trade to the Cubs, he's likely a half-season player when Chicago decides to dump him and his $6.5 million contract once the season is over, meaning he'll be looking for work in another city next season and transporting his family with him.
Some cynics may argue that McGriff doesn't have that desire to win a championship, but on the otherhand, the fire to play with his children instead of with Sammy Sosa just burns hotter.
And isn't that the way it's suppose to be.
The sad truth to the matter is that now a days we admire sports figures for doing the right thing because there is so much written about athletes doing the wrong thing on and off the field of play.
McGriff has become the exception to the rule, which is a shame.
But at the same time he is refreshing.
However, he is not the first big leaguer to take this road.
When Matt Williams became a free agent in Cleveland, he was one of the first players the expansion franchise Arizona Diamondbacks signed because the standout third baseman wanted to be near where his two children lived with his ex-wife.
If only more Dads in and out of sports were as unselfish as guys like Williams and McGriff, this would be a much better world to live in.
Rob Sigler is sports editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at or call him at 693-1551 ext. 3235.