When Tyler Griffey made a wide-open layup with 0.9 seconds left to lift Illinois over top ranked Indian 74-72 in men’s college hoops Thursday night,
I thought ‘Wow, what a finish. What a game!’
I also couldn’t help but think of one of my all-time favorite baseball players—Ken Griffey Jr.—and how it’s been nearly three years since his abrupt retirement from the Mariners in early June of 2010.
Griffey quietly walked away after 22 major league seasons having collected 2,781 hits, 1,836 RBI and 630 home runs, the fifth-most long balls in baseball history.
Junior was the total package. The sweet swing, the majestic home runs, the highlight reel catches, the swag, the ever present smile and the backwards cap; I loved it all. Who didn’t?
I even had those ugly Griffey Jr. shoes, several pairs to be exact, when teal was cool back in the day.
It’s hard to nail down my favorite Griffey Jr. moment. I could go on and on. But the time he flew around the bases from first to home scoring the decisive run to eliminate the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS I knew who my favorite player was.
Of course he’s still one of my favorite players and always will be. And in two years it will be nice to hear his name again upon his induction into the baseball Hall of Fame.
Long live The Kid.
The NL Central has long held the distinction of hosting some of the game’s greatest sluggers.
Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire held court before the arrivals of Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee and Derrek Lee.
But with the decisions of Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder to sign lucrative free agent contracts in L.A. and Detroit, respectively, the question arises as to which player takes over the crown as the NL Central’s greatest slugger?
Here’s how I see it:
1.) Were the Cubs unprofessional in releasing Silva?
2.) Larkin & Griffey turning heads in Florida.
3.) Joe Posnanski Award.
1.) David Brown of Yahoo! sports contends the Cubs erred in the way they informed Carlos Silva that he would not make the big league roster.
-”why didn’t Hendry and Quade be the ones to break the news to Silva? Why did the Cubs use a pitching coach (Mark Riggins) to tell him he was gone?”
I respectfully disagree with Brown and have no problem with Riggins delivering the news to Silva. Silva, after all, is a pitcher, and Riggins is the pitching coach. And as a coach, Riggins is an authority figure, Silva just a player. Players need to respect all coaches, not just the manager. Blaming the messenger is yet another poor excuse in a long line of them this spring for Carlos.
What’s truly disturbing is the way Silva handled the news–lashing back at the team and whining to the media. Silva, not the Cubs, is the one who’s acted poorly and unprofessionally. The guy who wants to be treated like a man isn’t acting as one himself. Go figure.
Although I’ve been in Silva’s corner all spring, pulling for him to make the roster, thinking all he needed was a fresh start, I’ve changed tunes. Instead, the more I’ve read and learned about Silva’s poor attitude, the more I believe the Cubs made the right decision cutting him.
Name your favorite baseball memories from the past 17 years. Lots to choose from, I know. There’s Cal Ripken’s record streak, the great home run chase of 1998 and Boston’s stunning comeback against New York in the 2004 ALCS, just to name a few.
Whatever the memory, share it with us in the comments section below to qualify for a signed copy of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s film The Tenth Inning–a two part, four hour mini series showcasing the game’s tumultuous history, greatest stars, and unforgettable moments over the past 17 seasons.
I watched the documentary last week and loved every minute of it. The scenes of mid-90s baseball rekindled vivid memories of my childhood. I watched non-stop, worried it would end any minute.
There’s a lot to capture in 17 years of baseball, but for the most part, Burns nailed it. Yes, it’s a little steroids heavy, but looking back decades from now, that will be the story of the era, and that’s the story Burns tells.
Meanwhile, my memory to share. I’ll always remember the excitement I felt the night Ken Griffey Jr. raced home to score the winning run against New York in the 1995 ALDS. My favorite player beating my favorite enemy–priceless.
My dad and I watched the drama unfold on a tiny television in his bedroom. I jumped off the waterbed when Junior slid home–safe! The damn Yanks were no more, and Seattle “refused to lose.” What a great game, what a great memory!
Look forward to reading yours, too.
*Give-a-way is on a first-come first-serve basis. Supplies of DVDs are limited. Good luck!
Jeff Shaw was a two-time All Star and one of my favorite players growing up.
The right-hander was a brilliant setup man with Cincinnati, positioning Jeff Brantley for 44 saves and the 1996 Rolaids Relief Man Award.
The following season, however, Brantley got injured and Shaw moved into the closer’s role. He closed out 42 games and also won the league’s saves title.
But less than a year later the Reds traded Shaw on July 4, 1998 to the Dodgers. In return, the Reds acquired left-hander Dennys Reyes and a no-name 22-year-old first baseman.
We talk about it all the time–great players hanging on too long. Ken Griffey Jr. is no exception.
He should’ve retired last year when his teammates carried him off the field. But at last, Griffey is leaving the game of baseball, and on his own terms, nonetheless.
It’s just the kind of exit you expect from Junior, which is why he’s one my all time favorites.
No silly press conference, no poor-pitiful-me attitude and zero fanfare. Just a simple ‘goodbye.’
We may have forgotten about Griffey the past five years, but as time drags on, bringing the Steroids Era into better focus, one of the game’s greatest players will be sorely missed.
Griffey’s Better Than Milton Bradley
Seattle Right Move For Griffey Jr.
Griffey’s Swan Song
Bud Selig retired Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 for all teams in 1997.
Three years ago Ken Griffey Jr. asked Selig if he could wear the number to honor Robinson on April 15, the day Jackie made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers–the commish agreed.
Now all players are invited to wear his number on April 15. Very cool.
I’m glad to see Junior back with the M’s for another season.
His return is a bit of a surprise to me, and unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s the right move either.
Consider that in 117 games last season his average dipped to .214, well below his career average of .285. His defense in center field wasn’t much better, limiting him to strictly a DH role. So it’s interesting Seattle is willing to give the 40-year-old’s tattered wheels another go-round.
At the very least, enough home run power was present to justify Junior being in the lineup, 19 to be exact, and his 57 RBI were serviceable, as well. But when Griffey singled up-the-middle in his last at-bat at Safeco, I figured that was a perfect, and fitting, ending to a most memorable career.
Say so long to The Kid.
This is it for Ken Griffey Jr., one more month of baseball is all that’s left.
Yet we haven’t heard a peep from MLB about Griffey’s departure, although you’d think baseball would do a better job of sending off one its best players of all time.
Where’s the celebration, where’s the coverage, where’s the awareness that this is the end for one of the game’s best all-around talents to ever play?
Seattle just makes sense for Ken Griffey Jr., always has and always will.
The sacrafice of one more year (maybe two?) away from sunny Orlando saves a lifetime of work by Ken.
Had Junior signed with Atlanta it merely becomes a footnote to the season, perhaps, not even news-worthy enough for ESPN’s Bottom Line.
Instead, his signing with Seattle ignites a celebration that begins this weekend with his arrival at Spring Training and will last through September – whether Griffey is healthy or not.
Of course, being away from family comes at a price, but watching Dear Ol’ Dad get his praise should make life away from Florida worth while for the Griffey clan.
Besides, there’s no question Griffey’s return will rejuvenate his career, as it did for a brief time two years ago when he resurfaced at Safeco for the first time since being traded to the Reds.
Better still; the Mariners have an open spot at DH providing Griffey’s tattered legs a fighting chance to stay healthy for a full season.
Who knows, maybe, just maybe, he captivates the baseball world one final time with his towering home runs…giving baseball fans weary of PEDs, steroids and HGH headlines some much needed relief.
Forget about World Championships. Forget about his time on the training table in Cincinnati. This is the way Griffey’s career is suppose to end, and thankfully, Junior sees it that way too.
Jr batting during his return to Safeco in 2007