ICYMI Elliott: New Jay Granderson has the right stuff

Chicago-area product Curtis Granderson who played at University of Illinois-Chicago, was thrilled to meeting fellow Chicagoan and 44th President Barack Obama in 2009. Photo: David Bergman/SI.

Chicago-area product Curtis Granderson who played at University of Illinois-Chicago, was thrilled to meeting fellow Chicagoan and 44th President Barack Obama in 2009. Photo: David Bergman/SI.

Originally published: April 9, 2009

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

These words are usually found on our editorial page a few days before a provincial or federal election.

That’s when, after much deliberation, a  newspaper officially decides to support the Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Green candidates.

We are prepared to follow the lead of Chicago Tribune baseball columnist Phil Rogers and throw our full weight -- well OK, our lobbying weight -- behind Curtis Granderson for the office of Major League Baseball commissioner.

Granderson, who plays centre and hits lead-off for the Detroit Tigers, says he does not want the job.

No matter. Cito Gaston didn’t want to manage the Blue Jays in 1989.

That seemed to work out and is still working judging from the cheers on opening night.

Granderson is our man, now that both Junior Felix and Kelly Gruber are not interested.

Not next week mind you, not next year, but when Granderson finishes playing he should take over for commissioner Bud Selig.

Campaigns are won in Iowa and New Hampshire. 

The push to draft Granderson began here during the World Baseball Classic and it continued last night in the first base dugout as the Tigers was informed of our support.

Our next commissioner does have a platform to begin the campaign for a job he does not want.

_ Make each city install a retractable dome.

“It’s opening day and we’ve had rain outs in Boston and in Chicago,” Granderson said. “If we didn’t have a dome here we probably would have had to cancel this game.”

_ Add cheer leaders.

“Go to a grade school basketball or a peewee football and there are cheer leaders,” said Granderson. “You might as well do something entertaining for the people in the stands while the commercials are on TV.”

_ Shorten the season, which will end in November this season if the World Series goes seven. Teams just finished the longest spring ever due to off days and the WBC.

“In 2006, when we made the Series if we had gone to Game 7 it would have been in November too,” Granderson said. “You aren’t going to find many places with good weather in November.”

_ Bring back the bullpen cart to usher relievers in from the bullpen.

For someone who does not want the job, our commissioner elect has some excellent ideas.

“Fans I talk with would like to see the game speed up,” Granderson said. “It’s not good when games are consistently four hours.”

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowksi, who the Blue Jays interviewed in 2001 when looking for a replacement for Gord Ash, remembers when the Tigers drafted Granderson in the third round from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I grew up in the Chicagoland area, Curtis is from there,” said Dombrowski who received a dozen letters from people he knew who knew Granderson. All had the same message: “you guys just drafted a quality individual.”

“If you ever spent five minutes with his mother and father (Mary and Curtis) you’d understand.”

Dombrowksi told of Granderson becoming the Tigers player rep last year and the two meeting. Granderson said the team wanted to change two road hotels. Domrbowski asked for specific reasons.

“Curtis told me ‘I’ll get back to you,’ and a couple of days later he came back to me with the answers,” Dombrowski said. The point being not every one would have followed through.

Dombrowski describes Granderson as intelligent, classy, a man with great morals, who possesses common sense. He could be a broadcaster, a manager or a GM down the road.

Granderson was asked by MLB to speak to the International Olympic Committee in an attempt to get baseball back into the Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He has travelled the globe for MLB International visiting the United Kingdom, Italy and Holland in 2006; South Africa in 2007 and China in 2008 to promote the game.

Granderson founded his Grand Kids Foundation in 2007 to provide education, fitness and nutrition opportunities to children in need across the USA. With coast to coast events including Grand Giving, The New Balance Fitness Challenge, Little League Sponsorships and youth programs, thousands of children benefit each year from programming hosted by Curtis and the Foundation. 

At university Granderson took a double major in business management and business marketing. In other words he is not a former car salesman.

“When he’s done,” Dombrowski said, “it would not surprise me if Curtis Granderson some day becomes president of the United States.” 

George W. Bush wanted to be commissioner, was not allowed by baseball since he was part owner of the Texas Rangers. Instead, he wound up the 43rd president of the United States. 

(Editor’s note: Granderson made a gift of $5 million to University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013, the largest known one-time donation from a pro athlete to his alma mater, according to Sports Illustrated. date. Curtis Granderson Stadium is utilized by dozens of inner city youth groups, UIC baseball/softball players and local middle/high school athletes.)