The most iconic athlete in Seattle sports history is in the Hall of Fame, which means it’s the perfect time for us to reflect on his legacy, his induction speech, and whether or not any of today’s local athletes can match his status atop this city’s Mount Rushmore.
Plus, how does our perception of athletes change as we grow up, and what do we want from our sports stars off the field?
All of that, plus Russell Wilson’s new poster, a fair amount of grumpiness, Slick’s love life exposed for all to hear, and a new installment of Tindermonials!
Ken Griffey, Jr. has no idea what he has done for my family, so let’s begin there.
We love baseball, my family. When I was little, my dad would take us to games at the Kingdome a few times each year. We would get there two hours beforehand, as soon as the gates opened, and race up the concrete ramps until we reached the first base side of the 300 level.
It made little sense, arriving so early to take in batting practice from a location where not a single batted ball would travel, but we did it anyway. We liked being up there and soaking it all in.
On November 15th, 2007, a man by the name of Barry Lamar Bonds was served an indictment by a federal grand jury. The indictment alleged counts of perjury and obstruction of justice against Bonds, who, four years earlier, had sworn under oath that he had never used illegal substances provided to him by a Bay Area pharmaceutical company called BALCO.
Had Bonds held any other occupation, the story may not have been nearly as widespread. Bonds, however, happened to be a Major League Baseball player. And at the time of the indictment, the 43-year-old outfielder was resoundingly considered one of the best players in the history of his sport. Bonds was alleged to be nothing short of a liar, and as a result, a criminal. He never played baseball again.
Eight weeks before Bonds found himself indicted, another baseball player, also an outfielder, was fielding his position when he collapsed to the turf.
The legendary sound of one of Seattle’s most revered sports radio hosts graces the airwaves this week, as we welcome Mike Gastineau onto the show and kick Slickhawk to the curb (for the time being).
Gas leads us down memory lane, as we reminisce about the greatness of Ken Griffey, Jr. on the day he becomes a first ballot Hall of Famer. (And be sure to pay close attention to that Dave Niehaus story.)
We break away from the Junior lovefest to discuss the Seahawks venture to the frozen tundra for their playoff matchup with the Vikings. Marshawn is back, the temperature will be well below freezing, and our guest co-host once saved someone you probably know from getting arrested in Minnesota.
Breaking news demands our attention, with Athletic Director Scott Woodward leaving Washington for Texas A&M. What will his legacy be at UW, and how did Woodward shape the current landscape of sports on Montlake?
Finally, Husky hoops takes center stage with a monumental weekend sweep over the L.A. schools to open conference play. Are the Huskies for real? We debate the legitimacy of these young pups.
Forget Stephen Strasburg (and it pains me to say that, because I love the guy). There are players much more deserving of a trip to the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game than the Washington Nationals’ young ace. And even though the flame-throwing phenom might end up in Anaheim on July 13, my only hope is that these three guys will join him there.
R.A. Dickey, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets
As more or less a career minor leaguer, R. A. Dickey hasn’t even had the opportunity to fathom what playing in a big league All-Star game might be like. This year, the knuckleballer — along with his 6-1 record and 2.98 ERA — should at least be allowed to consider Disneyland as part of his travel plans over the break.
A former first-round draft pick by Texas in 1996, Dickey has quite the backstory leading up to what has arguably become his most productive major league season so far.
After being taken 18th overall by the Rangers in the ’96 June Amateur Draft, a team doctor saw a photo of Dickey on the cover of a magazine and noticed that the right-hander’s pitching arm looked a little funny. The organization put Dickey through medical testing prior to signing him and discovered that he lacked the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, also known as the ligament that requires repair when a pitcher undergoes Tommy John surgery.
Because of this revelation, Dickey was offered a $75,000 signing bonus, as opposed to the $810,000 bonus the team initially had on the table. The University of Tennessee product was forced to accept this reduced offer, and thus began an unpredictable journey through professional baseball.
I was two years old, going on three, when the Mariners made Ken Griffey Jr. the first overall pick in the 1987 draft.
The story of Junior’s draft selection is one that legends are made of. The team was debating whether to take Griffey, a raw high school outfielder from Cincinnati’s Moeller High School, or the more polished Mike Harkey, a right-handed power pitcher from Cal-State Fullerton.
Forget the most talked-about nap since Rip Van Winkle.
The aging superstar and his sleeping habits are merely a convenient scapegoat for a ballclub that flat-out sucks right now. That we’ve actually given this much attention to a short snooze is despicable. And you call yourselves sports fans.
If you want to blame someone for the struggles of the 2010 Seattle Mariners, you need look no further than the man who put this edition of the team together: Jack Zduriencik.
Yeah, I said it. And I stand by it, too. Even in spite of the fact that Zduriencik was baseball’s King Midas a year ago, that doesn’t change what happens to be going on right now. Right now, our team is garbage. And for that we must fault the general manager, at least to a certain degree.
Be honest. How many of you knew who Larry LaRue was before today? Sure, you may have heard of Larry Stone, or Geoff Baker, or even LaRue’s plucky sidekick at the Tacoma News-Tribune, Ryan Divish.
But Larry LaRue (pictured at left) isn’t exactly a household name. He’s a pro’s pro, and one more content to do his job to the utmost degree, rather than whore himself out to radio stations and women with large breasts. Like the Q13 10:00 p.m. news, you forget he’s there, until suddenly — BOOM! — he strikes.
The Brian Dunkleman of local sports coverage, LaRue is getting his 15 minutes of fame today for this blog post on the straining relationship between Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners.
As the saying goes, it’s only a problem if you have a solution. And frankly, when it comes to the Mariners’ designated hitter tandem of Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr., solutions are nowhere to be found.
Much has been made in recent days of the hitting woes shared by two veterans with 76 years of life between them (Sweeney is 36; Griffey, 40). Their combined batting average is .211 (16-for-76). They have managed just one extra-base hit (a double, by Griffey). They have produced a grand total of six RBI. They have eight bases on balls to their credit, but mitigate the on-base percentage with their 14 strikeouts. To say that the Mariners’ DH position is a veritable black hole would be entirely accurate.
But let’s be real for a minute. What other options does the team have?
The Mariners released their 2010 promotional schedule on Friday, and it contains some interesting giveaways. Here are a few highlights:
-Three (3) Ken Griffey, Jr. bobblehead nights
Including a 1989 rendition of Griffey (Apr. 16), a ’95 slide likeness (May 7), and a dual Junior/Ichiro “Cooperstown Bound” figurine (Jun. 18).
-Two (2) other bobblehead nights
Felix Hernandez (Apr. 30), and Ichiro (Aug. 27). So if you miss out on the Griffey bobbleheads, you can try to justify it with Felix or Ichiro. Which is hardly any justification at all.
-Military Coin Night (Apr. 17)
This giveaway in association with Salute to Armed Forces Night wouldn’t be that big a deal EXCEPT that it’s a post-game giveaway. Yeah. Makes no sense, right? Now it’s a battle to see which of you 20,000 fans can get out of the park the quickest.
Ken Griffey, Jr. is re-returning to the Mariners, this time with much less hype and fanfare than the initial go-round.
Last year, we waited, we hoped, we prayed, and finally — FINALLY — Griffey and the M’s reached an agreement on a one-year deal. This time, it only took a matter of days to bring him back.
Credit The Seattle Times’ Larry Stone as the first to report the move earlier today. The deal is rumored to be very similar to the one that Junior and the team agreed upon a year ago. Griffey earned a base salary of $2 million in 2009, plus incentives.
The team’s primary designated hitter in 2009, Griffey turns 40 on Nov. 21 and will likely assume a reduced role in 2010. Entering his 22nd major league season, Griffey is not nearly the player he once was, but still commands a presence in the locker room. The veteran was the unquestioned team leader of the Mariners in 2009.
Though many expected Griffey’s initial return to the Mariners a season ago to be his final foray in Major League Baseball, Griffey himself had every desire to continue playing baseball in 2010.
It has been exactly 14 years and six days since that fateful evening in October when the Mariners toppled the mighty New York Yankees to advance to the 1995 American League Championship Series.
In honor of the annual playoff atmosphere consuming Major League Baseball this time of year, MLB Network broadcast the original footage of the final game of the ’95 American League Divisional Series between the M’s and Yankees earlier this afternoon. In its entirety, the contest was absolutely spectacular, culminating in Edgar Martinez’s historic double and Ken Griffey Jr.’s franchise-altering slide.
I was able to catch the second half of the game on TV today (originally broadcast on ABC, and narrated by veteran play-by-play man Brent Musberger) and noticed a few interesting things that may have been forgotten over time. It’s a trip down memory lane, and if you’re a Mariners fan, you’ll love it. My observations, in bullet point format: