What a Night

marc w · June 3, 2010 at 1:22 am · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners 

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).

Comments

23 Responses to “What a Night”

  1. speedomike on June 3rd, 2010 3:09 am

    Griffey’s first HR was to left field.

  2. Steve T on June 3rd, 2010 4:13 am

    For me nothing will top Griffey’s homering in eight consecutive games, or the following year when he had forty HR when they walked out in August, and the newspapers were daily comparing his pace with Ruth and Maris. We’d never seen anything like that in this town before.

  3. mattchiro on June 3rd, 2010 4:56 am

    Jr. was whiny and petulant in 1999; whiny and petulant in 2010. As usual, he has the last laugh. I hope this season was not irrevocably sabotaged by the Ken Griffey Jr. nostalgia tour.

  4. Jack Howland on June 3rd, 2010 6:00 am

    For me nothing will top Griffey’s homering in eight consecutive games

    There were 30,220 “day of sale” tickets sold on the day the streak would end up being broken.

  5. nuguy on June 3rd, 2010 6:37 am

    Never thought you could improve on perfection. Galarraga’s exceptional display of sportsmanship proved you can go beyond a perfect game. Umpire Joyce proved to be a standup guy, too. This is a story I’ll love to tell my kids. There are still people of outstanding character.

  6. murphy_dog on June 3rd, 2010 7:53 am

    Nuguy – - you nailed it.

    History books may have it as a one hit shutout, but anyone who saw it will know Armando was perfect.

  7. Chris_From_Bothell on June 3rd, 2010 8:08 am

    Galarraga’s exceptional display of sportsmanship proved you can go beyond a perfect game. Umpire Joyce proved to be a standup guy, too. This is a story I’ll love to tell my kids. There are still people of outstanding character.

    Which is exactly why there shouldn’t be instant replay. Moments like last night give you part of the history and character of the game.

    The 21st perfect game in ML history would be just a statistic. Last night was a great story, and displayed the character of 2 excellent men.

    Baseball is a game played by flawed, imperfect human beings trying their very best. In baseball, as in life, sometimes people are trying their best and just flat get it wrong. It’s how you respond to adversity, to unfairness, to pressure, that shows who you really are as a person. It’s also part of what shows the talent and determination of a player and a team.

    That theme is bigger than any one player, game, season or team. That’s part of what makes baseball more than just a sport. I realize the vast majority of readers and admins here are giving themselves eyestrain from rolling their eyes here, and I respect the instant replay advocates who are trying to make the game as fair as possible. But there really is more to this game than just technical perfection and accuracy to two decimal places.

    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.

    You’re right, it would have overturned the call. You’re right, it wouldn’t have interrupted the game for more than a minute or two. It’s still the wrong approach, because it fixes symptoms instead of the root problem.

    Video and technology should be used to help train the umpires, not overrule them or safeguard against them. There should be more emphasis on better and continuous training and evaluation of umpires, slower and more deliberate promotion of umpires to the majors, and swifter penalties and demotions for umpires who get it wrong. Do all that, and these sorts of things get so rare as to be statistically insignificant.

    Don’t use instant replay to correct one instance of Jim Joyce; use instant replay to find and remove all the CB Bucknors. Don’t just bring in robots; make better people.

  8. The Dreeze on June 3rd, 2010 8:22 am

    Griffey retires a Mariner!

    Does anybody know who or what that 90′s painting of Griffey with his hat backwards in the crazy 90′s neon colors was? Help me out.

  9. everett on June 3rd, 2010 8:37 am

    Better yet, Chris_From_Bothell, lets do both. Lets get better training so we have less missed calls AND have replay just to make sure we get it right when its possible to do so.

  10. mlathrop3 on June 3rd, 2010 8:47 am

    Regarding the blown call… I wouldn’t mind some kind of challenge system similar to the NFL. The manager wastes the same amount of time arguing those 2 or 3 calls a game anyway. The downside… less chance of epic managerial eruptions like Lou’s.

  11. Gomez on June 3rd, 2010 9:17 am

    My enduring memory of Griffey will be those swings when he got all of a ball and he knew it, that patented Griffey swing followed him slamming the bat to the ground all in one motion as he strutted out of the batter’s box and the ball flew and flew and flew. That to me is the greatest symbol of Junior’s legend.

    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.

    I agree, Marc. I recommend to anyone who hasn’t yet to read Art Thiel’s Out of Left Field, which chronicles much of the Mariners existence up to the period after Safeco Field’s construction, especially the inner workings of the team as they wrestled with moving the franchise. The construction of Safeco Field had to do with a lot, lot more than 1995 and how Griffey played. The emotional high from that run proved little more than tangential motivation to the dealings that produced the funding and construction of Safeco Field.

  12. Chris_From_Bothell on June 3rd, 2010 9:28 am

    Lets get better training so we have less missed calls AND have replay just to make sure we get it right when its possible to do so.

    I can understand that argument. I submit though, thanks to human nature, that after a generation or so of having instant replay commonly available, there will be more uses of it, not less, and worse umpires on average, not better.

    If they know in the back of their minds, even subconsciously, that replay or challenges will ‘save’ them, you’re going to get sloppier work.

    Having to get it right the first time in order to avoid a Galarraga-6/2/2010-level mistake is much better motivation.

  13. SunDevil1 on June 3rd, 2010 9:41 am

    Maybe everybody in baseball was distracted by Junior’s retirement. Not only the Galarraga incident, but the Ms win was a direct result of a blown call as well. There is a high likelihood that Wilson was out at second…

  14. Leroy Stanton on June 3rd, 2010 9:43 am

    History books may have it as a one hit shutout, but anyone who saw it will know Armando was perfect.

    It was the only 27+1 perfect game. The “perfectest” perfect game.

  15. Greeff on June 3rd, 2010 9:45 am

    I am a Mariners fan because of Griffey Jr.

    Being from The Netherlands we didn’t get baseball coverage at all. the only thing we saw were playoffs and WS and only the highlights.

    The first time i saw Griffey Jr. or any of the Mariners was the famous double that send the Yankees packin’.

    Since then i did everything all you guys did too, mimic his swing, wanted to play CF and so on, and it wasn’t just me. it was everyone at my baseball club. (Kinheim Haarlem, same where Greg Halman started)

    I remember watching some of his homecoming as a Red and it almost made me cry. i had that same feeling when i read the news this morning.

  16. jkcmason on June 3rd, 2010 9:48 am

    Did you really fill your Griffey retirement story with new stats and split it with the Galarraga call?

  17. Route 21 on June 3rd, 2010 11:46 am

    Does anybody know exactly how the 5-year waiting period for HOF voting is calculated?

    Would Griffey and Randy Johnson be on the same first ballot together?

  18. MrZDevotee on June 3rd, 2010 11:48 am

    Gomez-
    I’m already longing for a bigger than life-size bronze statue outside the homeplate entrance, of that long, ballet-like swing, and the affirmative stare at the ball headed to the right field bleachers… tip of the bat touching the ground, still in his hands… his weight perfectly balanced over a long stride…

    That way in my mind I can always finish the htought, and see that slow starting, crooked gait, headed to first at a speed that said “you don’t have to run hard on this one, boys”.

  19. MrZDevotee on June 3rd, 2010 11:51 am

    As for umpires–
    In honor of Junior, I think some of these guys should admit their decline, and retire quietly.

    Most of these guys earned their blue by umpiring work they did back in the ’90s… Not by any of their recent work.

    Why do we have generations of umpires who outlast generations of ballplayers? Maybe cap an ump’s career at 10 years? 15 years? And have a competitive atmosphere in place for guys to replace them?

    I’d suggest let’s try some younger (40 year old?) umpires before we go robots and replay.

  20. mrt1212 on June 3rd, 2010 2:14 pm

    There is no logical argument for withholding replay from baseball given the sheer amount of times lack of it has genuinely screwed over entire seasons and historical moments.

    I don’t want better humans who still have a margin of error. I want the right call, period. The whole “it fixes symptoms, not roots” doesn’t make the fact that the symptom is disgusting and a travesty. Less bad calls without any recourse still results in bad calls period. Replay in baseball could effectively negate more bad calls than better umps alone. And i definitely don’t think there is a moral hazard in having replay.

    As for history of the game, I’m sure fan interference is something that we should all celebrate. There’s no justification of forgoing replay except an appeal to emotion and nostalgia. An imperfect game with imperfect results that are the direct result of human error in the application of rules tarnishes the game itself.

  21. Red Apple on June 3rd, 2010 2:48 pm

    I thought/hoped that maybe the Commissioner’s office would encourage the official scorer to change the hit to an error. After all, Galarraga was bobbling the ball a bit, and beat the runner to the bag. At least he would have been credited with a no-hitter and gotten into the record book…some consolation.

  22. mrt1212 on June 3rd, 2010 2:59 pm

    Bud Selig could have done the right thing but has he ever done anything right? He’s almost as bad as Stern is for basketball.

  23. scott19 on June 3rd, 2010 5:56 pm

    Bud Selig could have done the right thing but has he ever done anything right?

    Well, actually, naming the Designated Hitter Award after Edgar was pretty darned cool…

    But, yeah, you’re right — that’s about the only cool thing I can think of.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.