Blog Archives

June 3, 2010

Saying Goodbye to the Kid

Ken Griffey Jr announced his retirement yesterday. His role with the Seattle Mariners both this year and last had been largely ceremonial, with him going a week between starts at times. It was a far cry from his peaks with the Mariners and the Reds.

Athletes, like all creatures, age and eventually must move out of the way for the next generation. But oh, what a generation Griffey was a part of.

The Kid: The Griffey Jr Upper Deck cardI remember when Griffey burst onto the scene in the late 80s. I’d heard the name of his father from my Dad, who’d been a fan of the Big Red Machine in the 70s. But Griffey Jr was touted as better, the most sure thing a prospect had ever been. Heck, even Upper Deck placed him as the first card for their first ever series. And Griffey was only in A-ball at the time!

I was in the prime baseball card-collecting age and strived for that card, but never found it. Until my parents purchased one for me for my birthday later that year. I think it was my only present, but it was absolutely worth it.

It was Griffey that opened my eyes to the American League, opened my eyes to the fact that there was more to baseball than just the Cincinnati Reds. I’d wished the Reds would have been able to draft him, but there were too many teams scheduled ahead of Cincinnati. So I followed Seattle and watched as they slowly, inexorably built a team around Griffey and started winning more than they lost for the first time in franchise history.

Griffey Jr's winning run in the 1995 playoffsThe strike happened in the mid-90s and drove me away from baseball, so I missed perhaps his most thrilling play. His trade to the Reds for 2000 was what rekindled my interest in baseball and the Reds. It’s a fitting symmetry that the player who opened me up to the wider world of baseball would eventually bring me back to my childhood team.

His time with the Reds was beset with injuries, but there were still some awesome moments, majestic home runs, and the most beautiful baseball swing I’ve ever seen. I’m very happy that I got to see him play in person as many times as I did.

Athletes grow old, and the human body slows down and becomes more frail. It can be painful to watch, in part because it means we’re getting older, too. But there are times, when seeing that swing tickles the mind and brings back wonderful memories. Thanks for the years of entertainment, Kid.

June 17, 2009

Being A Baseball Player Makes You Kinda Strange

Either that, or the gobs of millions does

I saw this story about the growing closeness between Ken Griffey Jr and Ichiro Suzuki on Deadspin today.

Ichiro Suzuki spreads a towel on the carpeted floor in front of his locker, lies on his back and begins doing stretching exercises. From Ichiro’s blind side, Ken Griffey Jr. pounces, gets his hands deep under Ichiro’s armpits and digs in with his fingers. Ichiro’s laughter is almost childlike – genuine and uncontrolled – and after about five seconds he screams the magic word to make Griffey stop. Junior stands up, walks back to his locker and sits down. Ichiro lies quietly for a moment, letting his body relax, then goes back to stretching as if nothing had happened.

Baseball players are weird dudes. Apparently, Ichiro was unhappy with the team losing so badly last year, as opposed to all those players of sports who get lively thrills from getting their asses kicked on a daily basis. But the arrival of Griffey has changed that, and the two have become BFFs.

Of course, the Mariners are still losing more than they’re winning, but at least Ichiro has, at long last, found happiness.

July 31, 2008

Griffey to Don the Black and White

UPDATE Griffey has given the OK; he’s going to Chicago. This is so exciting! I hope the White Sox go far.

According to the story on

The Reds will receive right-handed pitcher Nick Masset and second baseman Danny Richar, a source said.

Griffey, 38, is a likely free agent after the season. In the final year of a nine-year deal, the Reds held a $16.5 million club option for 2009, with a $4 million buyout.

The trade that’s been in the works since 2005 but seemed like it would never come may finally be here: FOX Sports (and even the pages concur) reports that the Reds and White Sox have come to an agreement to send Ken Griffey Jr. to the windy city, if the slugger agrees to go.

The Griffey family would find plenty of fun things to do in Chi-townKen Rosenthal says:

The White Sox, leading the American League Central by a game and a half, would use Griffey mostly in the outfield, the source said. However, they do not have an obvious spot for him unless they make another deal.

The Sox are set at the corners with Carlos Quentin in left and Jermaine Dye in right. They could play Nick Swisher at first to open center for Griffey, a move that would reduce the playing time of first baseman Paul Konerko and designated hitter Jim Thome. But Griffey has not played center regularly since 2006.

Griffey, earning $12.5 million this season in the final year of his contract, is owed more than $4 million in salary. The Reds could pay a portion of that sum to acquire better players in the deal. The White Sox also could be seeking to acquire one of the Reds’ available relievers, right-hander David Weathers or lefty Jeremy Affeldt.

No word yet on what the Reds would get in return.

May 20, 2008

Shocking Video Of Griffey Walking!

Ken Griffey Jr walks to a taxiTMZ has posted a fan/stalker-wannabe video of Ken Griffey Jr. walking from a restaurant to a taxi.

That’s blogs for you, bringing you video that the mainstream media can’t, nay, won’t. I commend them for it. Griffey leads a Salinger-esque private life, and obtaining any moving pictures of him walking over the past 20 years has been very difficult.

And bleeping out innocuous crowd noises? Priceless.

May 17, 2008

Ken Griffey Jr.’s Superstitions

The other day during a rain delay, Fox Sports Ohio passed some of the time by talking with Junior about his game-related superstitions. Thanks to the Crack Technical Staff for capturing the details.

Griffey likes to drive the same car to the park every day. If two days in a row, he doesn’t get any hits, he won’t drive that car the third day. If he doesn’t get any hits for a week, he ships the car back to his home in Florida and has a new car brought up.

Griffey refuses to use a game bat if someone else uses it.

Junior always walks to home plate the same way. He likes to lead with his right foot going into the batter’s box. When dugout on the third base side, waits for the umpire and catcher to settle before heading to the box.

Griffey doesn’t eat leftovers (except for after the Thanksgiving meal).

In pursuit of the grace of the baseball gods, he has taken showers fully clothed and has also thrown away an entire uniform.

When Griff was with the Mariners, teammate Jay Buhner had a 4-hit night. In a demonstration of how far he’s willing to go, Griffey sneaked into Buhner’s house that evening and placed his bat between Buhner and his wife. Apparently, some of the hitting rubbed off on the bat because Griffey got a couple hits the next day.