600 home runs: It's a plateau that only five players have reached. But yet, slugger Ken Griffey Jr. is likely to get less exposure once it hits his 600th than Manny Ramirez got for his 500th.
For some reason, unknown to me, the media has shied away from covering Griffey Jr. It's pretty sad too, because had Griffey not been injured, he would have put together a career that rivals Babe Ruth as the greatest of all-time.
If he hadn't sat out so many games, we would most certainly be talking about Griffey Jr. being to baseball what Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have been to basketball and golf, respectively.
Still, as Griffey sits one home run away from becoming only the sixth player in MLB history to hit 600, it doesn't seem like he's getting his deserved recognition.
For example, when Barry Bonds was chasing Hank Aaron's home run mark, ESPN would cut into their coverage to show all of his at-bats. Today, however, all I could do was watch the bottom line on ESPN to see Griffey Jr. updates.
The only analyst I can see giving Griffey Jr. big pub once he hits his 600th is Peter Gammons. He's the only purist left in the media, the only one who still cares about historical greats.
Sure, Griffey Jr. has had his fair share of setbacks since coming to the Reds in 2000, but his whole body-of-work is still remarkable. This is still the same Griffey Jr. who has hit .289 over his illustrious career, to go along with 1,728 RBIs.
One must remember that this guy hit 209 home runs in a four year span from 1996-99. Despite his struggles trying to resurect the "Big Red Machine", Griffey Jr. has plenty of pop in his bat, even at age 38. I mean, c'mon, this guy hit 30 HRs just a year ago.
Outside of Great American Ballpark, there just won't be much reception for one of the greatest to ever play the game. That angers me.
Being a Cardinals fan, when Griffey Jr. came to the NL Central in 2000, I was worried. Although players such as Brandon Phillips and Adam Dunn have put up better power numbers recently, there is never an easy at-bat against Griffey Jr.
Once widely-known as having the "most majestic swing in baseball", Griffey Jr. can still show off that swing every once in a while. When he hits a long ball, he does the same thing he has done for 599 others: slowly drop his bat, peer into the sky, and then circle the bases.
Even in 2008, that routine has been unveiled six times thus far. Griffey Jr. is on pace to hit 19 home runs this season, a far cry from his back-to-back 56 jack seasons in 1998 and 1999, but still a respectable number.
But when Griffey Jr. reaches 600 home runs, I for one, will remember the moment as truly historic. More importantly and unfortunately, I will remember how little attention was paid to the best player of our generation, bar none.
Not Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. Since my inception into this earth in 1988, Griffey Jr. set the bar high as a rookie in 1989, and went skyward thereafter.
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