Over 21 years ago a young slugger with incredible defensive skills made his debut for the Seattle Mariners.
In Ken Griffey Jr.'s first at-bat in Seattle he hit a home run.
With it, the Seattle fans saw a glimpse of the 20-year-old kid's beautiful swing that would dominate the sport's future. It was 1989 and for the next decade baseball would live and die by the popularity of the home run.
Fast forward to the present day 2010. The Kid with the pretty swing has retired, ending one of the all-time great careers just a bit too late. The same as all of the great athletes old age set in and Griffey became no more than a utility outfielder used mostly in pinch hit situations.
The era that once looked as if it would shine in the record books will instead be forever marked with an asterisk in the minds of many baseball fans. However, Ken Griffey Jr. will be remembered as the one who was clean.
Most of the sluggers of the steroid era have retired. The legacy has been left and time will tell how the history of the era will be told. There is a new era emerging. The sport's future appears to be headed in the complete opposite direction of the past decades. The home run era has been replaced by the strikeout era and just as a Ken Griffey Jr. was the young face of the last era, a young arm has emerged and his potential is just as captivating.
His name is Stephen Strasburg and there is no more waiting.
The new era of baseball is officially here. On Tuesday, June, 8th the phenom struck out 14 hitters against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the first game of his major league career.
Strasburg may be the first player since to have the same amount of hype surrounding him as Griffey had on his shoulders. After his first appearance, the potential achievements of such a talented young pitcher are endless. He does not appear to let the hype faze him. His fastball is just as fast as advertised. The rest of his pitches were unhittable as well.
He is not the first young pitcher in the past couple years to emerge as a future face of the game but he does have the most hype. The past two years have seen both Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke become Cy Young winners and dominate the league with their pitching. So far this season Ubaldo Jiminez has been the pitcher putting up one of the best pitching seasons in history.
These new young pitchers have become fan favorites. The MLB may not be saying it publicly but in the wake of the steroid infested era of power sluggers, it must be a huge relief to see guys like Lincecum, Greinke, and Strasburg becoming the face of the league.
As Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement a week ago, it had the feel that a period of baseball's history was coming to a close. Now, one day after Stephen Strasburg's debut of 14 strikeouts it is obvious that there will there will be no wait for the next to begin.
The strikeout era has arrived and Strasburg is the Kid that will represent this generation, the same as Griffey did with the last.