Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Kid Stays in the Picture

Last Sunday, I went to the Mariners/White Sox game. Ken Griffey did not start, but in the 9th inning, the Mariners were trailing 3-2, with 2 out and 2 men on base. Griffey came in to pinch-hit with the game on the line, and for the next 64 seconds, excitement was in the air!

Through 16 games, Griffey is batting .226. A double on opening day has been his only extra-base hit thus far. Predictably, Griffey's lack of production is becoming a driving force among those covering the Mariners. While some writers offer theories in regards to fundamentals, others simply wonder how much a 40-year-old with several surgeries behind him could have left in his tank.  But of course, any time an aging superstar starts to show his age, you can be assured that some misguided rube will champion the self-righteous position of the fan who considers "few things sadder" that witnessing such a legend "embarass" himself.  These were the same whiners who projected their own self-hatred onto a fat, jump-shooting Michael Jordan in a when he dared to put on a Wizards uniform past his prime.  Really, you consider it painful that a guy who used to get 3 hits per 10 at bats now only gets 2 hits per 10 at bats?  Go fuck yourself.  

The truth of the matter is that 40-year-old baseball players are SUPPOSED to have terrible numbers.  If there is one major fallout of the steroid era, it is the fact the two most famous cheaters became the most famous specifically because they cheated when they were old.  Bonds and Clemens ruined the curve for older players, because instead of their bodies breaking down like they were supposed to, each pumped themselves full of every possible hormone, and were rewarded with multiple MVPs and Cy Youngs.  

In the final season of his career, 43-year-old Willie Mays batted .211.
In the final season of his career, 42-year-old Hank Aaron batted .229.
In the final season of his career, 40-year-old Frank Robinson batted .224.
In the final season of his career, 42-year-old Stan Musial batted .255 (his career avg. was still .331.)
In the final season of his career, 40-year-old BABE FUCKING RUTH batted .181.

Griffey is one of the very few players in baseball whose legacy has been helped by the steroids scandal.  After all, the standard-issue excuse has been that players used them to recover quickly from injuries, and as every Reds fan will testify, Griffey was never one to be accused of coming back too quickly from pain.

If anything, baseball should be celebrating Ken Griffey and his .220-esque average.  In a sport that gets wrapped up in it's on sanctimonious nostalgia far too easily, what better way to market its return to Americana values than to shout out to all who will listen, "Hey, it's the new era of MLB, when old players look like old players again!"

And remember this, angry Mariners fans.  Griffey may be struggling at the plate, but he continues to lead the team, and all of baseball, in the all-important category of "Ichiro tickling."

1 comment:

Conor Pennell said...

I'm jealous. I'm going to quite a few white sox games this summer.