BOSTON - First, said Ken Griffey Jr., it's not true. Second, he doesn't care what other people say anyway. And third, he'll find his usual way to get even - with his game.
Griffey responded yesterday to critical remarks published in the New York Times Magazine attributed to New York Yankee Manager Buck Showalter. Showalter was quoted as saying Griffey and San Francisco's Barry Bonds lacked "a respect for the game of baseball."
Further, Showalter said Griffey was "bored" with baseball and, along with Bonds, showed disrespect by wearing his hat backward and his uniform shirt outside his pants.
"What he said is not fair," Griffey said after the Mariners' 9-2 loss to Boston. "You know me. You've never seen me with my shirt outside my pants. So that's a lie."
None of those who regularly follow Griffey could recall seeing that. Griffey wears his hat backward during batting practice, a habit picked up from wearing the too-big hat of his father's while he was a kid.
"He doesn't understand me," Griffey said of Showalter. "A lot of people don't understand me."
Before heading to Pittsburgh for his fifth consecutive All-Star festivities today and tomorrow, Griffey added that he neither cared nor worried about Showalter's opinions.
"Why should I care about a person from an opposing team?" he asked. "I don't take the game seriously? Why, I do believe he was coaching third for the All-Star team when I won the MVP (1992)."
Griffey said he will not bother speaking to Showalter but will instead respond on the field.
"I'll do what I do best," he said. "I guess 8-for-14 last week in New York wasn't good enough. Just because I didn't hit a home run, I disappointed him.
"I'm never bored at a ballgame. I love the game. I smile. I run in. I show emotion."
Griffey suggested Showalter might be jealous, asking, "Did he get out of Double A or Triple A?
"People have always expected more of me . . ." he added. "Getting yelled at here doesn't faze me. Since I was 9 years old, I've been taking cheap shots."
There will be some form of payback, Griffey said.
"I'll get him," Griffey said. "I don't have to fight."
How about this coming weekend when Showalter and the Yankees arrive in Seattle for a four-game series?
"Not necessarily then," Griffey said. "It may not be this year, may not be next year. But someone is going to slip up and I'll get them. I'll forgive, but I'll never forget."
Showalter claimed his comments were off the record. But the writer, Charles Pierce, said the interview was tape-recorded and the quotes were read back to Showalter before the story appeared, according to the Boston Globe.