Game 70, Reds at Mariners
Harang vs Feierabend, 7:05 pm.
For a lot of people, tonight is a big deal. Ken Griffey Jr returns to Seattle for the first time since he was traded to the Reds, and the M’s are rolling out the welcome mat. They’re having a welcome back pre-game ceremony, had him autograph 1,000 commemorative “Griffey returns” baseballs, and have been pushing this series as a must see event all year. It’s Junior coming back to where it all started and the city is basking in nostalgia.
And I know it’s weird, but I don’t care. I tried to, but I don’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fond memories of Griffey as a Mariner. I am the target audience for this kind of thing. I was nine years old when Jr made his major league debut, and he was the star of the show as I learned how to fall in love with baseball. I had the Upper Deck rookie card and the candy bar. I loved the home run swing, the leaping catches, the backward hat, and everything that went along with The Kid. When he broke his wrist catching the Kevin Bass flyball in 1995, I remember a hopeful season being flushed down the drain. And I remember where I was when he took John Wetteland yard for a game winning home run three months later to ignite the amazing comeback. I jumped up and down when he raced around the bases to beat the Yankees just like everyone else, and I cried when the Indians ended the dream a week later.
Junior was a huge part of my childhood. But he was never the player that I admired. For me, that guy was Alvin Davis, then Dave Valle, Erik Hanson, Bill Swift, Dave Fleming, Brian Turang, Darren Bragg, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Mike Jackson, Mike Cameron, Chris Snelling, and now, Felix.
Those were the guys that I loved, that I adopted as my own. Why? I don’t know, honestly. I can explain some of them, but others, they’re inexplicable. And it’s okay, because they’re emotional attachments, which aren’t the most rational thing on earth to begin with.
But Junior never cracked that group. He was always the great player, the franchise, the most talented player I’d ever seen. But I rooted for him because he was a Mariner and admired him for his abilities, but the deep emotional attachment that others are remembering? I don’t have that with Junior. I never did.
I don’t begrudge anyone their nostalgia, and for a lot of people, I’m sure tonight is going to be a lifelong memory. That’s awesome. I hope you have a great time.
When they do a welcome back for Brian Turang, call me. I’ll be fired up for that.