What a Night
I remember sitting in my room listening to the radio broadcast of Junior’s first home game; I was too stunned to jump around when that ball flew out to *left*, I just stared at the goosebumps on my arms.
I remember getting home from school and tuning in to the M’s in New York – a rare TV game. Every replay of that incredible catch of Barfield’s drive made it look more and more improbable.
I remember the 1996 season, with Griffey and Rodriguez drawing comparisons to Mantle/Maris. I was in college miles and miles from Washington, but people from all over couldn’t stop talking about it. Some even expressed jealousy that I was an M’s fan; this stopped abruptly in 1998/1999.
Junior slow slide into replacement level started early, but he had so far to fall that he’s hung on for a decade. Did he stick around too long? Yes, of course. But the slide may keep some fans from remembering just how amazing Griffey was in the mid-90s. Rally’s historical WAR database has a couple of seasons over 9 WAR, which equal or best Pujols’ best years, and leave Randy Johnson’s in the dust. That’s worth remembering.
Because of this, I look past the negatives – and there were plenty. I remember the acrimonious end to Griffey’s first go-round in Seattle, and I’ve always resisted the Manichean story that Griffey ‘saved’ baseball here (or the subtext that there was no baseball here pre-Griffey). But he made baseball here an absolute joy to watch for many years, and that’s enough for me.
After reading Shannon Drayer’s story here, I wonder if Griffey’s enjoying the fact that his somewhat awkward exit has been upstaged by the drama surrounding Armando Galarraga’s perfect game in Detroit.
You’ve all seen the replay by now, and you all know how horribly Jim Joyce bungled that call. Joyce himself apologized to Galarraga after the game. There’s an interesting debate going on about how MLB can ‘make this right’ for Galarraga; apparently the official scorer is looking at changing the call to an error that would at least preserve a no-hitter. Others (including our fearless leader at USSM) argue that MLB should overturn the call and retroactively give Galarraga a perfect game.
What’s somewhat encouraging is that opponents of an expanded replay are in retreat. There’s no way to argue that replay in this instance wouldn’t have 1) overturned the call and 2) not interrupted the game in any meaningful fashion.
I feel like we’re winning this war. The ALCS last year, and now Galarraga this year; it’s happening too often and the situations are too important. From all accounts, Joyce is a good guy. He never asked to be a poster boy for blown calls, and hey, we have the technology to not allow any poor umpire to feel what Joyce is feeling right now.
*edited to add the correct direction of Jr.’s first Kingdome HR. Sheesh. Since it was on radio, I had this perfect image of that shot, and I remember feeling confused and a little bit let down when I finally saw a replay of it. It looked all wrong (though still pretty cool).