PHOENIX, Ariz – Curtis Granderson was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers to strengthen their team and give that veteran presence with leadership in the clubhouse.
During his 14-year MLB career, with four different teams, Granderson has never achieved that prestigious World Series Championship and the ring that comes with it.
By coming to the Dodgers, he hopes to achieve just that. “It’s exciting. Obviously, you never know what’s going to happen. The uncertainty of this game and that your faith is in other people’s hands. You come to the ballpark ready to play, excited to get out there and help the team you happen to be on. Knowing that it could possibly change, and sure enough, it did happen. Going from a great organization to another great organization. From the Mets to the Dodgers. With a team that is in contention with a chance to do some big things this season. That makes it even more exciting.”
Anytime a trade is made, especially for a veteran player there is a chance to re-energize said player, especially when playoff contention is within sight. “There is something to be said about getting a chance to play in the postseason. That’s where every team is trying their best to get to when they step on the field during spring training. Know that you got six months of baseball ahead of yourself, hoping you have a seventh month. Then go deep into that seventh month. There’s obviously a different level of energy and excitement that you have knowing you have a chance to get to that point.”
Coming to the Dodgers and looking forward to achieving a World Series title with this team is something he is looking forward to. “Of course. Getting a chance to make it to the World Series twice. Once with the Tigers and then the Mets and coming up short both times, leaves unfinished business to take care of. Hopefully, we get an opportunity with this team and this organization and do it. I know they have been looking for a championship. It’s been a very long time for the Dodgers organization. To be a part of it, to hopefully help us get where we want to, which is to win our final game of the season. That’s where everybody ultimately wants to get to.”
After the trade was made, Granderson made his first appearance for Los Angeles in Detroit against the Tigers. “It was fun. Getting a chance to go back to where everything started for me. Seeing a lot of friends that are in the area not only in the city of Detroit, but the state of Michigan. Then the number of fans that came out wearing Tigers 28 jersey, they were announcing I was their Tiger, which was something they did as a promo back when I played there. It’s pretty cool have been remembered. To relate and come back and show the love and the passion not only for the teams that I played for, but what we were able to do for the city at that time.”
While playing the series in Detroit, Granderson was able to get his first hit as a member of the Dodgers, which just happened to be a home run. “I was just trying to do something positive to get on the board. In that situation as (Justin) Verlander was pitching as good as he was, a no-hitter at that point in time. Just trying to help out the team just any way we can. To get the first one to go across was a good thing. It put us in a situation to get on the board first. ”
During Granderson’s 14-year career, I asked him if there was a team that this 2017 Dodgers team could compare to. “You have a mixture of young guys with some veterans and a great coaching staff. I would have to say maybe the 2006 Tigers team. Based off being a young guy on that team. Being able to watch some of the young guys on this team mixed in with some veteran guys like an (Adrian)Gonzalez. Like a Chase Utley just to name a few.”
There have been a select group of players that have played for both the teams in New York. Granderson is one of the 123 total players that have suited up for both teams. With 63 position players and 60 pitchers that have that honor. “It’s cool to get a chance to be in New York on both sides of it. I didn’t know much about New York or New York baseball, Yankees or the Mets.
Growing up, being in Chicago, we were saturated with the Cubs and White Sox. I was a Braves fan growing up so that’s where a lot of my baseball interests were. Then I get drafted by the Tigers. The same thing. A lot of comparisons as the team to beat was the Yankees. We got an opportunity to do that in the postseason in 2006. Then coming over to the Mets, it was a lot of a learning experience on the fly going through it. Understanding that organization and the passion for the 1986 team. How and why David Wright is the captain of that organization. Playing against him in the minor leagues in the Flordia State League in 2003, there was a big gap between seeing him again and why the city loves him as much as they do. Learning that stuff and seeing it was great.”
Then coming over to the Mets, it was a lot of a learning experience on the fly going through it. Understanding that organization and the passion for the 1986 team. How and why David Wright is the captain of that organization. Playing against him in the minor leagues, in the Florida State League in 2003, there was a big gap between seeing him again and why the city loves him as much as they do. Learning that stuff and seeing it was great.”
For his time with the Yankees, “Has its own levels of excitement and things I’ll never forget as well. Playing with guys like (Derek) Jeter, A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), (Robinson) Cano, (C.C.) Sabathia) just to name a few, has its own levels of excitement. Really cool I got the chance to experience both sides of it.”
When players get involved in projects outside the diamond, Granderson talked about being involved in his Children’s book named All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It! He talked about the motivation and idea behind it. “The idea of getting it going is to have kids realize I am not much different than them. I come from an inner city in Chicago. Playing in a city like Detroit. Playing in a city like New York.
There are a lot of issues you run into from peer pressure to violence to gangs to the importance of education. Then to picking your friends. To involve the different kids throughout the state of Michigan and the Boros of New York, I think was cool.
A parent in Michigan came up to me. The daughter who’s illustration ended up being the cover of that book said they were so thankful for that she got to be a part of this. Her being on the cover has turned her from the shy individual girl to this out going and being able to brag and boast amongst her friends. Even little things like that where we have been able to touch and change individuals is part of the reason why we did that.”
After Granderson’s playing days he talked about still being part of the game. “I definitely love the game and want to be involved in some sort of fashion. Not a 100 percent sure how it’s gonna look from youth baseball all the way to the MLB. There is a lot of things I have learned along the way. I feel like there are things I can help people with that are coming up just based on my experiences.”
Having the privilege of spending the time with Granderson, I was able to appreciate the person more than the player. One and off the field, he is one that baseball benefits from with having him represent this great game.