Ken Griffey Jr. Proves All Was Not Lost in the Steroid Era

Bo ReedCorrespondent IMay 21, 2009

SEATTLE - APRIL 15:  Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Seattle Mariners waves to the crowd after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field April 15, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. All Major League Baseball players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson day.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

With Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez the latest superstars to fall into the steroid cloud, everyone is now looking at the current group of young stars trying to find the one to break the 'roid records and restore a sense of legitimacy to baseball's record book.

Why look for someone down the road when baseball has a future hall of fame player winding down a stellar career without needing, much less using the juice; which seemed to flow like Kool-Aid in clubhouses around baseball for far too long.

In the 'Steroid Era' of the '90s, Ken Griffey Jr. was a man among boys.

Will Griffey break any of the tainted records of baseball? No, he won't, but take a look at what he has done over the course of a 21 year career and you'll see something much better than records.

Career batting average of .287 with 615 home runs and 1,781 RBI; his career OPS sits at .917.

He has been intentionally walked 244 times.

He's been on the All-Star team 13 times and has played for both leagues.

He's won a league MVP award ('97) and 10 gold gloves.

In seven of his 10 gold glove seasons he also captured the silver slugger award.

What I find remarkable about those numbers is he accomplished that while flying into the teeth of baseball's steroids problems.

Of all the superstars in the league, Griffey is one star from the 90's who put up these kind of numbers that isn't in the same vicinity of the steroid cloud, yet baseball to this point hasn't made him the central figure in it's healing process.

What are they waiting on? Albert Pujols?

Pujols is an incredible player who is also clean in the eyes of baseball, but he didn't play when steroids ruled the game in the '90s.

Waiting on the young stars of today to reach the numbers of baseball's 'roid class is understandable, but why not throw Griffey out there as proof that not all was lost from his generation of players.

It can all begin at the All-Star game this season with a small gesture from Bud Selig. Give Ken Griffey Jr. a Commisioner's Lifetime Achievement Award and honor Griffey for his 21 years of clean service to the game.

Follow that with some powerful PSA's with Griffey telling kids you don't have to take steroids to succeed, even if everyone else around you does. He has a unique perspective to reach little league players around the country as well as young stars coming up in the minors.

After all, what he would be asking of these kids is something he himself has done. Look at the numbers he produced while saying no to steroids while his fellow players were shooting each other up with juice.

No one knows if this will be Griffey's last season. His homecoming to the Seattle Mariners makes this season feel like it's his last.

Baseball has a once in a lifetime chance to use the outstanding example of Ken Griffey Jr. to start putting steroids in the rear-view mirror.

If they choose to let this moment go by without so much as a whisper about his contribution to the game, then baseball has yet to learn it's lesson.

Ken Griffey Jr. was a man among boys his entire career, and baseball fans everywhere should be sad to see him go.