Tag Archives: Junior

Put your Naughty by Nature on repeat, Junior’s back!

Griffey ReturnsForget the touchy spin on the matter, forget the drawn-out deliberation process, just forget it all.  The only thing that matters is that Ken Griffey, Jr. is coming home.

Cynics will say he’s got nothing left in the tank.  Naysayers will look at this as a foolhardy publicity stunt.  None of it matters.

We don’t get a lot of good sports-related news in Seattle.  We’re generally immune to feel-good stories.  We tend to pass on championships.  We’re comfortable living under our cloud.  Which is why we need to embrace this day.  Why we need to embrace Junior’s return.  We may not get much out of the Mariners this season, but we will get him.  And that’s enough for me.

This is something sabermatricians will never understand: humanity.  Emotion.  Crunch the numbers if you must, bury your nose in stats, and then bring me all the flaws in this deal.  I’m going to be standing there smiling, because I don’t care.  I don’t care if Ken hits .200.  I don’t care if he gets injured (well, I do, for his sake, but you know what I mean).  I don’t care what he does, I’m just glad he’s back.

There are so many things that divide us as sports fans and as people.  So when something comes along to unite us, to allow us common ground, to truly excite us, we need to enjoy it.  Read the message boards, watch the evening news, check your Facebook newsfeed…over the next few days, you’ll see more love professed for Junior than guys like J.J. Putz, or Raul Ibanez, or Erik Bedard, or Ichiro, or any of the other Mariners or ex-Mariners that the team has propped up there could ever imagine.  If you hate good things, this will sicken you.

Be happy, because this is a great thing.  It may defy statistical logic, it may not pave the way to a championship, and it might not even make fiscal sense when all the details are announced.  But in our hearts, we know this is the way it should be. 

We deserve him, and he deserves us.

Here you go, Atlanta: My greatest Griffey memories, they’re yours

griffeyms3It can be summed up with a sigh.  We’ve been down this road before.  Perhaps Ken Griffey, Jr. just isn’t meant to be a Mariner again.  It’s destiny, right?  Why mess with a good thing?  He isn’t the player he was when he left Seattle in 1999.  He’s been ravaged by injuries, and made to look human in the last decade.  If anything, he’s best utilized as a backup, a fourth outfielder, a platoon player, which is exactly what he’ll be in Atlanta.  Here in Seattle, he would have been propped up on a pedestal, forced to play at a higher level than he’s capable of playing at these days, and glorified like a hero, when his days of heroism are long since past.

Continue reading Here you go, Atlanta: My greatest Griffey memories, they’re yours

A last-ditch effort to bring Junior home

griffeypileIt’s down to Seattle and Atlanta.  And Ken is supposed to make his final decision by tomorrow.  Meaning at this point, it’s anyone’s guess where he’ll end up playing next year.  Atlanta offers the proximity to Griffey’s Florida residence, and the opportunity to see his family on a more regular basis.  Seattle offers nostalgia, likely more money, and love and appreciation that money cannot buy.  It’s down to the eleventh hour, and both teams have their offers on the table.  So we’re here to propose our offer, from the fans, of what Ken Griffey, Jr. can expect from us in return for his coming to Seattle.

Continue reading A last-ditch effort to bring Junior home

Notes: Huskies in first place, Thoughts on “He Who Must Not Yet Be Named”

Husky Basketball: The Dawgs cruised into first place in the Pac-10 last night thanks to a UCLA loss, followed by a Husky victory.

The evening got off to a good start when UCLA was beaten by Arizona State (for the second time this season, no less) prior to Washington’s 8:00 PM tipoff. The Huskies then took care of business on their end by using a second-half surge to send the Oregon State Beavers across the state with a loss.

Continue reading Notes: Huskies in first place, Thoughts on “He Who Must Not Yet Be Named”

It’s down to Griffey and Anderson

Power hitting outfielder/first baseman Adam Dunn reached a two-year, $20 million deal with the Washington Nationals this afternoon, while rumors circulated that right fielder Bobby Abreu was close to signing a one-year, $5 million deal with the Anaheim Angels of South Central East L.A.

The departure of two more veteran bats off the free agent market means there are really only two sluggers yet unsigned: Garret Anderson and Ken Griffey, Jr.

Continue reading It’s down to Griffey and Anderson

Junior should be everyone’s hero

And then there was one. Amidst all the failed tests, all the name-dropping reports, and all the emotional press conferences of the past few years, only one truly phenomenal baseball player has managed to stay clean throughout it all: Ken Griffey, Jr.

Junior is the last man standing when it comes to baseball’s steroid era. The last cardboard hero who kids of the ’90’s cling to in search of a meaningful figure from their now-corrupt youth. Mark McGwire has been axed, Roger Clemens embarrassed, Rafael Palmeiro brought to his knees, Barry Bonds indicted, Alex Rodriguez humbled. Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Sammy Sosa, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, and the list goes on. We can only speculate about blown-up, larger-than-life figures who have yet to be formally cited: Bret Boone, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, and hundreds more. No one is presumed innocent anymore. Everyone is guilty. And yet…

Continue reading Junior should be everyone’s hero

The Top 11: Seattle sports heroes, #1

Our first ten Seattle sports heroes, counting down from 11, are as follows: 11, 1995 Mariners supporting cast; 10, Ichiro Suzuki; 9, Brandon Roy; 8, Mike Holmgren; 7, Lenny Wilkens; 6, Steve Largent; 5, Lou Piniella; 4, Don James; 3, Gary Payton; 2, Edgar Martinez. Numbers 11-7 can be found here, while numbers 6-2 can be found here. And now, our number one Seattle sports hero.

1. Ken Griffey, Jr. There is no debate. Ken Griffey, Jr. is Seattle’s biggest superstar. He saved baseball in this city, and arguably put Seattle on the national map with his highlight reel catches, 1997 MVP season, and picturesque swing. Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam may have represented Seattle all across the world, but Griffey was the city’s biggest rock star since Jimi Hendrix.

Griffey emerged on Seattle’s radar as a name in 1987. He was the first overall pick in Major League Baseball’s June amateur draft that year, and was poised to become the face of a franchise if everything went according to plan. Mariners owner George Argyros had wanted to use the #1 pick on Cal-State Fullerton pitcher Mike Harkey, but was overruled by his scouting team, who labeled Griffey a can’t-miss prospect with five-tool abilities. Junior was the prototype. He had the prototype build (6’3″, 195 pounds), prototype bloodlines (dad Senior was a Cincinnati Reds outfielder at the time), and the prototype attitude (generally well-liked, but with a dash of cockiness that tended to breed greatness).

By 1989, Junior was the starting center fielder on a young Seattle team. He had been hand-picked by first-year manager Jim Lefebvre to replace up-and-coming Mickey Brantley, who would ultimately have his career derailed by Junior’s emergence (no fault of Junior’s). Griffey spent some time on the disabled list that year, but still put together a decent rookie season, hitting 16 home runs and batting .264. He lost out on the American League Rookie of the Year award to Baltimore Orioles closer Gregg Olson (which, if you’re keeping track at home, makes for three obscure players that are answers to trivia questions involving Griffey: Harkey, Brantley, and now Olson).

Griffey really took off in 1990 and would never look back. He was a bona fide talent and the nation took notice. By 1994 he had had his own candy bar, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, done voice work for The Simpsons, acted in a major motion picture (Little Big League), guest starred on a network TV show (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), and produced a video game (Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for Super Nintendo).

Even with all the accolades, Griffey outdid himself in 1995. The ’95 season began in somber fashion for Junior, who broke his wrist on a Spider Man-like leaping catch against the Kingdome’s right-center field wall. In the ensuing moments, Junior captured a spectrum of emotions from fans: amazement at the attempt, jubiliation at the catch, worry at the aftermath, sadness at his depature, fear at the prospect of being without his presence in the future. Despite a three-month absence spent on the disabled list, Griffey continued to dictate the Mariners season. While he watched from the sidelines, the team remained barely in playoff contention, hovering around .500 for the twelve weeks Griffey was out.

When Junior returned in August, the team was desperate for a spark to get them back on the winning track. Junior provided just that. Down the stretch he would quickly return to form, helping lead the ballclub to the playoffs for the first time in their history. One of the great images of the ’95 season is of Junior, arms raised, fingers pointed the heavens, immediately after hitting a game-winning home run, the first of his career. I can tell you that the game was played on a Sunday afternoon. The Mariners wore their alternative teal jerseys on Sundays that year, and here was Griffey all tealed out.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the Griffey-Seattle relationship occurred later that season, in the ’95 American League Division Series against the Yankees. Junior, barrelling around third base in the 11th inning of the deciding Game 5, would score on Edgar Martinez’s infamous double to essentially save the Mariners franchise from leaving Seattle. The image is considered holy to a true Mariners fan. Griffey, sliding feet-first, left hand outstretched to graze home plate. Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz positioned in front of the dish, awaiting a throw that won’t arrive on time. In the background, pure happiness. Numerous figures frozen in mid-air, leaping with unrestrained jubilation. Bob Wolcott, the Mariners 21-year-old starting pitcher, displaying a vertical leap that would get NBA scouts’ attention. An amazing photograph, and one that has been reproduced a thousand times over in Mariners lore.

In the aftermath of that winning run, a second photo would emerge to capture the spirit of the moment. Griffey, immediately tackled out of sheer joy seconds after crossing home plate, pops out of the bottom of a dogpile grinning like a kid on Christmas morning as teammates celebrate above him.

Ken Griffey, Jr. would remain in Seattle through the 1999 season. He won an American League MVP award in 1997, and amassed numbers as a Mariner that had him on pace to become one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. Upon a fateful trade to Cincinnati, however, Griffey’s career was sidetracked by injuries and he would never again be the same player he was in the Emerald City. His return to Seattle in 2007 resulted in multiple standing ovations, a tribute video that brought grown men to tears, and a home run for the opposition that had 45,000 fans cheering for him once again.

Ken Griffey, Jr. played a game in such a way that it moved people to take action. He brought fans to a once-empty ballpark and got them to watch him and his teammates. He made a state government take action and ensure that their baseball team would never leave the only city it had called home. He helped fund a new baseball stadium, simply by hitting home runs, catching fly balls, and flashing a geniune smile every now and then. He elicited emotion in fans and created it himself. Griffey may not ever fully realize exactly what he means to this city, but there’s no denying that when it comes to heroes, he may not have a cape or be able to fly, but Ken Griffey, Jr. is our Superman.