Underrated Player: Marquis Grissom

This is the first in a series of players deemed "underrated" on the Giants. Who else should we start with but with Marquis Grissom? Not only has he been a surprise for the Giants, but he's their offensive MVP. A guy who was batting eighth in the beginning of the season has become an offensive threat, who would have known? That's baseball.

Once a ballplayer reaches his late thirties, he is likely to be approaching his bench years, the years where his presence in the clubhouse helps the team mentally, but all he can do on the field is sit in the dugout to play cheerleader.

This was Marquis Grissom in a Dodgers uniform last year, sitting on the bench and watching his teammates go out to play everyday. This 36-year- old outfielder has reached his golden years on the field, but he's never complained. He'll happily go into games once in a while to do whatever he can to help his team win. He just wants to play baseball.

A guy who just wants to play baseball is a guy who would jump at the opportunity to play everyday, and thus, Grissom was lured to San Francisco, who were in a scramble in the 2002 offseason to fill their outfield positions with the loss of Kenny Lofton and Reggie Sanders.

Grissom has never asked to be praised for what he did, he just wanted to do whatever he can to help his team. He just wanted to play baseball. Him being underrated may have something to do with his low- key, humble personality, but that doesn't mean that baseball fans, especially Giants fans, shouldn't recognize him for what he's done for this ball club.

Being placed at the bottom of the lineup and batting before the pitcher in the eighth spot, Grissom has never complained. He just wants to play baseball. Grissom was everything the Giants expected offensively in the first days of the season, but later on, he would prove to be one of the Giants' most dangerous offensive weapons, working his way up to a spot batting in front of Barry Bonds, where he got his nice feed of fastballs and hittable pitches, and where he made it difficult for pitchers to wait another inning to face the one batting behind him.

In the batter's box, Grissom has delivered time and time again, in clutch situations and with runners in scoring position to either contribute his part to the offense, or to get something started offensively for the Giants, who have been known to struggle in that department every now and then this season. On the field, this senior citizen of the MLB is diving for fly balls and running from left center to right center, chasing down deep flies for outs, or running into a wall trying. He jammed his knee into the wall where anyone, baseball player or not, would cringe and twitch at the sight of the accident. And yet, Grissom hopped back onto his feet, and after taking a long while to shake off the excruciating pain, he jogged around the field and INSISTED that he stayed in the game. He just wants to play baseball.

If there wasn't a man by the name of Barry Bonds on the team, Grissom would definitely be the offensive MVP. Kids around the Bay Area will soon be wrapping layers upon layers of tape onto the knob of their bats, because they want to be like Grissom. When the Giants win, you rarely hear about the little things that Grissom has done to help the team into the win column, but he's never minded. He just wants to play baseball.

Grissom is also one of those important clubhouse guys, someone who the guys can approach to talk to about a problem, or about anything. He keeps a positive attitude and a high spirit in the locker room, which is important on a team with such a generation gap between their players. He's even made Bonds laugh a few times in the dugout.

And with all this, how many people really know who Marquis Grissom is? Baseball fans can tell you he's the center fielder for the Giants. Giants fans can tell you he's the starting center fielder for the Giants, and they may even mention some of the points I've mentioned previously.

But even Giants fans can forget that this long time veteran has been a gem found in a pile of rocks for the Giants. With his acquisition, the Giants were hoping for a little speed and a spot filler in center field. Not only has Grissom done his job, but he's done it with authority, and in a seldom way. He doesn't go in and out with a bang, nor does he want to. He just wants to play baseball.

A job like hitting in front of Bonds isn't easy to get, especially when you spent most of last season warming up the bench in Los Angeles... Not that Grissom minded... He just wants to play baseball. When he was asked if his acquirement of the name "Dodgers Killer" this season had anything to do with his former team, Grissom says there are no hard feelings at all with Los Angeles. And who wouldn't believe him? He just wants to play baseball.

Thank you, Gris... thank you for playing baseball.

On deck: Jim Brower

Sara Kwan was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. She currently writes game recaps, other articles, and is the Giant Prophet for SFDugout.com. Any comments or questions about the article, baseball, or the meaning of life can be sent to Sara at kwanchino@alpha-q.net

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