Sunday, February 19, 2012

Farewell Mike Cameron-I loved watching you play

Matthew announced at Lookout Landing that Mike Cameron is hanging up his glove at age 38.  In camp with 54 competitors in the Washington Nationals camp, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. 

Mike Cameron played center field at Safeco like he owned it.  As matter of fact he did own it.
Maybe you don't have as high a regard for Mike Cameron as I do.  He came over in the Ken Griffey, Jr. blackmail and he simply could never be Junior.  He was never going to be as productive a hitter, try as he might.  But in my book, in some ways he was better (and I have considerable fondness for number 24.) Cameron loved Seattle.  It showed in his relationship with the fans and that he was always laughing and smiling.  Though he frequently struggled at the plate, and famously so in Safeco field, he was sans peur in center field.  The first great center fielder to arrive at Safeco, he played  shallower than Griffey, allowing him to come in on balls better, but had enough speed to make the play at the wall just like Junior. His UZR numbers were very good for the 2002-3 years, the only ones available on Fan Graphs.

Perhaps you've forgotten this play on Derek Jeter's home run shortly after Cammie joined the team in 2000.  It shows why he took some of the sting out of Griffey's flight to Cincinnati for me.  I even wrote a poem about Cameron's catch for my 5th and 6th graders to show that poetry didn't have to be a bore.

After M's didn't offer Cameron a contract for the 2004 season, he signed with the Mets.  After an  average year with the Metropolitans in 2004, Cameron suffered a terrible season-ending injury in a collision with Carlos Beltran. He went on to play with the Padres and Brewers, posting decent seasons with both teams.

Cameron had a good career. shows him as a slightly above average hitter for his career, with an OPS+ above 100 from 1999-2009.  Not surprisingly, his best year was 2001, along with many others, with a .267/.353/.480 slash line, 126 OPS + and 16th place finish in MVP voting.
A loyal player, a loyal teammate who got the most he could out of his talent.  No, Cameron wasn't Ken Griffey, Jr., but in some ways he was better.
It's great to see this baseball good-guy go out on his own terms, and I'll remember his time in Seattle fondly.

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