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Ken Griffey Junior. About a week ago I was at a bar and I saw a program on FSN called “The Top 50 Collisions in Baseball History,” really an enjoyable program aside from one glaring, disgusting error. One of their greatest collisions was Ken Griffey Junior making Willie Mays look like Scotty Smalls catching a ball against the centerfield wall at the King Dome and breaking his wrist. I hadn’t yet had my first beer, but I went to the bathroom and vomited. I remember watching that live. That was the day that the best baseball player that ever lived shat upon his legacy.
Ken Griffey Junior was like a Calvin and Hobbes snowman cartoon. You knew what you saw was great, but that what you saw the next time may be even greater. His swing was beautiful, and not like, “Oh honey I know you just had a kid but you’re still beautiful,” beautiful, but “I want to touch naughties immediately with that” beautiful. He played the game with a grace that made Queen Elizabeth reconsider her actions. He ran in a way that made gazelle stop and consider a different way of escaping certain death. The Kid caught everything like a strawberry (scroll down to Number 2). Not only was he a fantastic baseballer, but he was cool. Ken Griffey Junior was a trendsetter. Griffey showed up at a homerun derby wearing his hat backwards and within .001 seconds every kid in America was wearing his hat backwards. He wasn’t just stupid high school kid cool, but he was actually real people in the world cool. Any kid that wasn’t fat wanted to play centerfield because Ken Griffey Junior was out there. Ken Griffey Junior was an icon. This was a man that played during the steroid era and was so genuinely talented he avoided the stigma. The homerun hitters during his time were Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Albert Belle, Sammy Sosa, Brady Anderson, and Ken Griffey Junior. Look at those men, they all could swing a bat like Zeus and one of them was natural. One of them was The Natural.
Ken Griffey Junior could have broken every baseball record, that’s the type of good he was. Hell, rumor has it he wrote the Humpty Dance while playing centerfield in his rookie season, that’s how good he was. Watching him break his wrist in that segment was the equivalent of watching Mitch Hedberg take a hit of heroin. Sidebar, for those who don’t understand that reference, I’m not providing a link to his comedy, but you need to listen to it. Mitch Hedberg is the greatest comedian to ever live and I implore you to bring him into your life. I miss Ken Griffey Junior, and not the fat one who played for the stupid White Sox, but the Kid. It hurts to know that we never saw that man reach his full potential.
I love Ken Griffey Junior. His career was like that really cute girl you dated as a Junior in college that wanted to wait for marriage, and actually stuck to it. You wanted so badly for it to come to fruition but it ran into a wall and created problems. Mr. Griffey you will never see this, but I have deposited 1/8 (I’m not rich) of a beer on the floor at the Hyatt in downtown Kansas City in honor of your career that died too young.