Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Griffey Era

I wish I had kept the ticket stub.

I was privileged to see Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 606th HR several weeks back, a no-doubter to right field against San Diego. Little did I know it would be his second to last in Great American Ballpark.

I'm a pretty die-hard Reds and Bengals fan. As a kid, when either team had their first loss of the season (sometimes, that happened pretty quickly), I was so worked up I couldn't sleep that night. I think I didn't sleep for several when the Doug Flutie-led (and not very impressive at the time) Patriots broke up what I was sure would be our undefeated Bengals season (we were 6-0 at that point) in the great 1989 season.

And when the Reds made it to the World Series in 1990, I promised all my college classmates that the Reds would take Oakland in 5. I blew a big red horn out my window with each victory, to the point that a lacrosse player in my dorm threatened to get physical. It's a good thing they won in four.

All that being said, it is indeed a bittersweet end to the Griffey era. While I, as much as any fan, was frustrated that injuries and a lack of surrounding talent kept him from being all he was in Seattle, I was lucky to have watched one of the all-time greats play for eight years.

In the end, much of the frustration came, ironically, from the fact that Griffey physically slowed and repeatedly injured himself over time, while other players in their late 30s seemed to bloom and stay as strong as ever. Well, now we know why! While he was aging naturally like most of us, the others of his caliber were cheating. And I hope Griffey's long-term legacy will be that he achieved greatness the right way.

If the White Sox make the playoffs and the Reds don't, I will be cheering for him to win his first World Series. And I know I won't be alone. He is, after all, a Cincinnatian.

And as a Cincinnatian myself, I will be cheering hard as we begin the Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Edinson Volquez era. How great will it be as we open "the Banks" in the coming years to have winning baseball at the same time.

Hope does indeed spring eternal.


Anonymous said...


I agree completely.

Normally, when someone gets hurt or is suffering people exercise some empathy. It was really sad to see certain broadcasters attack Griffey with such vigor - as if he had control over these mishaps.

I feel a little ashamed of the way we treated him during and because of his hardships.

(Don't even get me started on the media's treatment of Chad - that goes back to day one)

Anonymous said...

You didn't keep the ticket stub?!

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