The issue is how to arrange Griffey’s amicable, dignified departure from a team that’s got no other choice but to use the franchise icon as a spare part. (After starting the first game of the road trip on Tuesday as a designated hitter demoted to seventh in the batting order, Griffey’s work in Baltimore was confined to a pair of ninth-inning appearances as a left-handed pinch-hitter – despite the fact the Orioles started right-handed pitchers on both Wednesday and Thursday.)

With no home runs, and no indication he’ll be able to provide even warning-track power at DH – the only “position” in the lineup the slumping Mariners quickly could upgrade from outside the organization – the 40-year old Griffey is facing uncharted territory. But instead of serving as a guiding light, instead of negotiating a soft-landing solution to a dilemma familiar to all pro athletes – when to quit, and how? – Goldberg has more urgent items on his agenda.

Such as: Interpreting the motives, and reading the minds, of Mariners beat writer Larry LaRue and his editors in the Tacoma News Tribune sports department. Talking off the air with KIRO Radio on Wednesday, Goldberg alleged LaRue never meant to post the Monday-morning blog contending Griffey’s boredom with baseball has reached the point where he fell asleep in the clubhouse during the Mariners’ 4-3 defeat to the Angels last Saturday.

Goldberg told KIRO the blog post was posted by accident, and when LaRue asked the editors to kill it, he was denied.

“No, we need to cover this up. We can’t look foolish,” is how Goldberg states the conversation between LaRue and his bosses.

Goldberg also said that LaRue, relying on the “oldest journalism trick in the book,” never talked with the two players who saw Griffey asleep but, rather, gathered the information from another person within the organization and attributed it to an anonymous source.

Goldberg knows all of this … how? He and LaRue last talked during spring training. Goldberg does not have access to the computer system at The News Tribune, nor is he privy to e-mail messages or phone conversations between writers and editors.

And yet Goldberg is telling a radio station that LaRue punched a “send” key meant to punch “save,” and then telling the same radio station that The News Tribune editors insisted on running the blog despite the author’s wishes.

Wondering aloud here, as we’ve been colleagues for the past 19 years: How did Larry LaRue react to the controversy over the blog post?

He “felt horrible,” Goldberg told KIRO. Thanks for the update, Brian.

Hey, just because it’s been two months since you’ve talked to LaRue doesn’t mean you don’t know him better than his friends do.

Goldberg’s foresight in identifying the young Ken Griffey Jr. as a client for life has proven fortuitous, but when a sports agent starts talking about newspaper publication policies, he sounds like a fool.

Here’s how our business works: If a News Tribune writer wants to kill a blog post, he can kill the blog post. LaRue’s post ran Monday morning. As of Thursday night, it still was running.

A telling observation in LaRue’s post – that two teammates noticed Griffey asleep for part of a game – hasn’t been disputed. It wasn’t disputed by Griffey, who had every opportunity to label the blog post as fellow designated hitter Mike Sweeney did: a makeshift article full of lies.

Nor was it disputed by Goldberg. In his eagerness to cast The News Tribune editors as louts bent on publishing scathing innuendo, he never denied a crucial point: Griffey was sleeping on the job.

Personally? By Thursday morning, I wanted to let this topical storm take its natural course and dissipate into the yonder. I wanted the focus to return to the game on the field, and the ways (if any) the Mariners can prevent their descent into baseball-standings oblivion.

But when I heard Goldberg’s comments, if not Goldberg’s actual voice, it revealed the extent of denial in the Griffey camp. The Mariners, according to Goldberg, haven’t mentioned to him any possibility of Griffey calling it quits before October.

Retirement? What retirement? Who’d be so callous and indifferent to the mere aura of Griffey’s mystical presence to bring that up?

Goldberg himself did. In an interview with the Seattle Times last year, on the eve of Griffey’s reunion with the Mariners, Goldberg said the notion of his client extending his career “was not automatic. … Retirement is something Junior considered. It was something he did last year.”

Got that? Griffey considered retirement in 2008, after hitting 18 home runs, with 78 RBI, in a season split between the Reds and White Sox.

But he’s not considering retirement in 2010, when instances of his hitting the ball with authority can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Brian Goldberg is so adept at reading minds, he told a radio station Thursday of the dialogue he imagined between a writer in Baltimore and his editors in Tacoma. Cool!

Perhaps now Goldberg can read another mind, and tend to a client whose only need during his glorious career has been some advice on how to quit.

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