Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Good Guy Granderson Gets Well-Earned Extension

Sorry, Leo Durocher, but nice guys don't always finish last.

I'm not one to get caught up in how much dough a professional athlete makes. I still follow baseball statistics, not salaries. If a batter comes up in the bottom of the eighth with runners in scoring position and the game on the line, how much he's being paid isn't even on my radar. I've managed to keep the game wholesome in my mind, in that regard.

Salaries, though, are very much part of the game -- I know that. Especially in the winter months of the Hot Stove League, when there's not much else to talk about. It's also when most contract extensions are signed.

So I must comment on the Tigers locking up centerfielder Curtis Granderson on a brand-new extension that could carry him all the way to the 2013 season in Detroit. Grandy made about $650,000 last year. He'll make about nine times that now, thanks to a $30+ million extension.

Not to get too fawning here, but just about every father with a daughter should hope that she marries a young man like Curtis Granderson. At 26, it's scary to think what he can still accomplish on the ball field, and exhilirating to think of how many people he's yet to help and serve with his charitable work and donation of time.

One of the game's most approachable players, Granderson is one of many key components that the Tigers are locking up for the longterm, as they try to remain elite for years to come. Having good people like Granderson in the clubhouse goes a long way toward that goal.

Granderson: chisel his name at leadoff for the next five years; the community will benefit, too

I wrote a couple summers ago that Granderson would eventually make this town go crazy as the Tigers' leadoff hitter and centerfielder. I believe it even more after his monster 2007 season, in which he batted .302, with 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 HRs, 74 RBI, stole 26 bases, and scored 122 runs. Past MVPs haven't had as nice numbers as those, if you want to know.

But it's more than what he does in uniform that will make Detroit fall in love with Granderson. With the contract extension all but ensuring that he'll remain in town for several more years, if not for the rest of his career, I can see Granderson becoming as much of the fabric of Detroit and the state of Michigan as any Tigers player in recent memory. We might, MIGHT, be seeing a Hall of Famer forming before our very eyes, and when you combine that with a sense of duty and giving back that Granderson has already displayed, then you have the makings of that special player who isn't just a player -- he's a local icon.

Already, Granderson has hosted a benefit celebrity basketball game, traveled to Europe as an MLB ambassador, and participated in countless other charitable events, since beating Nook Logan for the starting CF job in spring training, 2006.

Is this too much praise? Am I putting the cart in front of the horse? I don't think so. There's no reason to believe that Granderson won't continue his prowess on the field. And there certainly is nothing to indicate that his off-the-field goings-on will subside.

Granderson's mother, Mary, gushed these words -- and doesn't every parent want to be able to say the same of their child?

"As a parent, and especially as a mother, you always want your child to be respected and loved because of the individual they are," she told the Free Press. "You look at them growing up, and you have all these plans for them. It's been one of those things in the back of my mind, that I wanted him to be a whole person, a good person.

"And he grew up to be that."



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