A busy news day in baseball. As Ken Griffey Jr. announces his official retirement from baseball, a chapter is closed on baseball’s past. I hope that the blown call on Armando Galarraga‘s perfect game attempt helps stimulate the mandate for more instant replay in baseball. If so, today could be seen as the opening of a new chapter in baseball’s future.
I spent my formative childhood years in and around Seattle. For better or worse, Griffey is what comes to my mind first when I think about the Mariners. Edgar Martinez was the better hitter and the consummate professional. Randy Johnson was electric in his own way on the field, but as a starting pitcher didn’t impact every game and he never had the force of personality that Griffey had.
Both of them were loved and even revered, but Griffey is the only player who I have ever seen stop concession sales. When he came up to bat in the 90s, people in line for a hot dog or beer would stop and watch the TV monitors. The lines stood still until the at bat was over.
The lines no longer stood still this season, but thankfully 2010 will eventually fade from memory. So many will remain. Griffey with his father in the clubhouse. Griffey hitting the warehouse in Baltimore. Griffey scoring the run in 1995. Griffey getting carried off the field in 2009. There are countless more.
The rational and calculating part of me is glad that Griffey has moved on. He was hurting the team on the field and that was too bad. On one hand, it is sad that it ends this way. On the other, I can confidently say that we saw every last drop of Junior that he could give us. There will be no wondering about what could have been with just one more year and in the end, I surprise myself by being almost happy that it does end that way.
So long, Griffey. I hope you stay around in some form or another and I will never, ever, forget your swing.