Mariners Legend Calls It a Career: My Take On Ken Griffey Jr's Retirement
I wrote this for my blog the day that The Kid retired. I thought I'd bring it over here and see what you all thought of it.
I wrote on May 13 that Ken Griffey, Jr should retire. His numbers were way down (.184 AVG, no HRs, and just seven RBIs), and he had accomplished everything he'd needed to over such a legendary career.
The one thing missing from his resume was a trip to the World Series, but his time ran out on that goal. The Mariners are not headed there any time soon.
Well, less than a month since I wrote that post, Griffey has decided to call it quits. His manager, Don Wakamatsu, made the announcement today before the Mariners faced the Twins.
Griffey released a statement, which said, "While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction."
He continued by stating, "I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be."
In his debut on April 3, 1989, the Kid went 1-3 and scored a run in a 3-2 loss to the Athletics. Dave Stewart was the winning pitcher, Mark Langston received the loss, and Dennis Eckersley pitched 1 1/3 innings for the save. The only person from that game still playing today is White Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel.
The first of Griffey's 630 Home Runs came on April 10 against Chicago White Sox righthander Eric King.
His greatest season came in 1997, when Ken won the MVP by blasting 56 HRs, knocking in 147 RBIs, and producing a line of .304/.382/.646/1.028.
I have never known baseball without Ken Griffey, Jr. He has been a class act throughout his career and will retire as one of the greatest to have ever played the game.
A good thing to note: Of the top 10 Home Run hitters of all-time, four players have either admitted or been outed as steroid users (Bonds, Sosa, A-Rod, McGwire). The rest of the top 10 include Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Griffey, Robinson, and Killebrew.
I will always remember Griffey as the man who refused to cheat.
While McGwire, Bonds, and Sosa were smashing Home Runs left and right, as well as breaking hallowed records and moving up the all-time Home Run list, Griffey mostly battled injuies.
I cannot assure you that Griffey did not take steroids or PEDs, but with the low amount of games he played, it is unlikely. From 1998 (the year of McGwire and Sosa) to 2009 (his final 'full' season), he played in an average of 119 games.
He could have taken steroids/PEDs and probably gotten back on the field quicker, but he was a better man than that. It is a shame that he ended at just 630 homers and fifth on the All-Time home run list. It would have been nice to see him at the top, instead of the Steroid Era ringleader, Barry Bonds.
Even though he had single season home run totals of 56 (twice), 49, 48, 45, and 40 (twice), Griffey never led the league in home runs. McGwire led the league in homers in '96, '97, '98, and '99 (as well as in '87), the same years when Griffey had his four highest home run totals.
Thank you, Ken for playing the game the right way.
You will be forever known as the best player of the Steroid Era. You, unlike many others of your generation, decided to play baseball the old fashioned way: The Right Way.
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