Ken Griffey: A Career of Being Overshadowed

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Leave it to poor Ken Griffey, Jr. to have the most poignant night of his career slide down below the fold of the sports page because some jerk made a bad call. Yes, even in failure, Jim Joyce's perfect mistake outshines the retirement of one of the most beloved players in baseball history. Griffey called it a career last night after 20+ years of smacking home runs with aplomb, making highlight-worthy catches in center, and million-dollar smiles, but also 20+ years of dealing with depressed Seattlites, miserable Cincinnatians, and far too much Lou Piniella.

Griffey may have been a natural talent but he was also a natural at getting broken. Endless trips to the DL in the second act of his career meant that certain milestones got delayed and that trip to the World Series was always out of reach. Along with Ted Williams (note: I had a dumb) and Ernie Banks, Griffey reigns among the top ten players to never reach the Fall Classic. Ken spent the 1990s being awesome; we fans spent the 2000s waiting for Ken to get that awesomeness back.

Griffey stood by as fellow second generation star Barry Bonds grabbed the spotlight with his power and disdain for the media. Bonds broke all the home run records. Bonds made the World Series. Bonds had an entire ESPN reporter assigned to follow his every move. Meanwhile, writers always claimed to love Griffey and his playful ways, but they loved spilling their sanctimony-stained ink about Bonds more. You get more readers with scandal, no matter how artificial and meaningless it is.

Even Mariners fans dumped on Griffey in his final days. A fading star brought to the team to sell more t-shirts and popcorn, he failed to hit a home run in the first two months of the season and was singled out as a scapegoat for a poorly-constructed, miserable team. Respect? Ken Griffey deserved it by the bushelful but got it in mere trickles at the end.

Still, Ken Griffey, Jr. finishes his career many steps ahead of Bonds and with every benefit of our doubts: he will be a first-ballot HOFer and will be lauded forever as one of the greatest outfielders in the modern era. And we at Walkoff Walk will always be true fans if only for that time Kris interviewed Ken's mom. So long, Ken, and thanks for all the memories.


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23 Comments

The song in that Dick's Sporting Goods commercial with Griffey and Torii makes want to ah-sss-push it. P-p-push it real good.

That "top ten players to never reach the Fall Classic" is invalid due to the fact Edgar Martinez is on it and Don Mattingly is not.

"will be lauded forever as one of the greatest outfielders in the modern era"

I don't think he will always be considered one of the greatest outfielders in the modern era because he will not have always played in the modern era

Isn't modern era considered anytime after 1900?

Griffey is also the last of the players from that Simpsons episode to retire. That episode originally aired 18 years ago.

You are officially an old fart currently reading a dad blog.

Yes, Colonel. That's what I was referring to. Not sure what Marty McFly is talking about up there.

@Freetzy

/pours out bottle of nerve tonic for Griffey's career

In the year 2210 the modern era will be the current era no the era that we currently call the modern era. The moder era isn't a name we call the years 1900-2010 it's the name we call the current era that we are in.

@BCTF When will then be now?

Rob, the Splinter's frozen head isn't on that list because Teddy Ballgame played in the '46 WS.

And yeah, I'd probably put Mattingly ahead of Torre.

@Rob
When we finish our History Report about how historical figures would view modern San Dimas

Wow, Phony, thanks for that. I'm dumb.

2210 will be the golden age of baseball's postmodern era. The sport by this time will have evolved into a simulacrum: instead of playing new games, "players" will reenact the games of the modern era, in perfect order. My descendant, who is playing the part of me, a Tigers fan in 2010, will weep (but the tears are not real, he is just a committed actor) when the reenactor playing Armando Galarraga is robbed of a perfect game.

I completely forgot that Griffey had 630 home runs. The steroid drama may have cheapened the gaudy HR totals of yesteryear, but Griffey's total stands out as a relatively clean one. So the fact that I forgot how many he had (I thought he was somewhere in the upper 500s) speaks to Rob's point.

Consequently, I guess I'm surprised by not only Junior's HR total, but also by the fact that Rob made a salient point without referring to the NL as the "lesser league."

By the way, Meech made it in to the hallowed pages of the esteemed Milwauke Journal-Sentinel...

Making it all the more tragic that links cannot be posted here, Tartan...

You can post links. It's really easy. Just paste it in there.

Apparently sarcasm cannot be posted here successfully, either.

You forgot the winky face.

In all fairness, we all don't have cameras at our sides 24/7. I'm not in art school ffs.

I really did try to tell Matt last year that he didn't want Griffey sullying the Braves' outfield. In truth, Junior was even worse than I expected him to be during his second tour of Seattle.

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