Tagged: Ken Griffey Jr.

The Retirement of Divinity and the Perfect Imperfection

Ken Griffey Jr. picked the wrong night to retire. On any other night, his retirement would be a huge story, but it got overshadowed by the drama in Detroit. Give Jim Joyce credit, however–he handled himself gracefully, admitted that he messed up when he saw the replay, and didn’t throw anyone out of the game (I was really thinking that Miguel Cabrera was going to get ejected after the botched play with the way he was jawing at Joyce.) Credit Armando Galarraga as well–he didn’t get angry once, even though he had a perfect game stolen from him. It’s unfortunate what happened, but it’s also a shining example of good sportsmanship on all fronts. Joyce is behind the plate for this afternoon’s Tigers-Indians game, although he was offered the chance to take the game off, and Galarraga came out to give him the lineup card. Wouldn’t you know it, the first out of the game was a close play at first.

Also, about that close play…my first instinct, even before seeing the safe call, was “oh no, I think he (Galarraga) missed the bag!” They’re considering overturning the call and awarding him the perfect game, but I can’t help but wonder if, failing an intervention by Commissioner Selig, the official scorer might not be willing to reclassify the play as an E-1, resulting in a non-perfect no-hitter. I really think it would be justifiable.

On a more positive (?) note, Joycegate or Perfectgate or whatever they’re going to call this may be the impetus needed to get the use of instant replay in Major League Baseball expanded. This morning on SportsCenter, a call for this was made by someone who knows from bad calls first-hand–Don Denkinger, the infamous first-base umpire in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, whose blown call leading off the bottom of the ninth sparked a two-run rally as the Royals came back to win the game and the Series in 7 games. Joyce, who has been umpiring since 1989 and was named the second-best umpire in MLB in Sports Illustrated polls in 2003 and 2006, worked with Denkinger. Joyce was…well, his postgame speech was as profane as an Ozzie Guillen tirade, but it was all self-loathing, and he admitted his mistake. He knew as soon as he saw the replay that he blew it. Finally, when he went to apologize to Galarraga personally, Galarraga replied, without a hint of irony, “Nobody’s perfect.” That was perfect.

UPDATE: WABC’s Warner Wolf brought up another point regarding the play. Umpires are trained to watch for the foot and listen for the ball. In addition to the overwhelming crowd noise at what appeared to be the 27th out of a perfect game, Galarraga snowconed it. If Joyce was doing his job right, he’d have never actually seen the glove–and thus, would have had reason to believe that Donald beat the ball, especially since Galarraga supposedly adjusted the ball after making the play. If Joyce looked up and saw Galarraga adjust the ball and mistook it for the ball just arriving, it’s only natural that he’d make the wrong call. This is why instant replay is needed.

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When you know it might be time to retire

I just can’t get over this story that Ken Griffey Jr. missed out on a potential pinch-hitting opportunity because he fell asleep in the clubhouse. Griffey’s a Hall of Famer, through and through, but this should definitely be taken as a warning sign that the glory days are over. Put it this way: when he made his major league debut, I was less than a week old. I’m now of legal drinking age. It’s been a lovely career, and we should savor every opportunity we get to see him play.

The Orioles have nightmares in red and blue

Oh. G-D! The Rangers have done it to the Orioles again! Granted, what happened last night is nothing compared to the 30-3 whupping the Rangers dealt out a couple of years ago, but 19-6 is still pretty nasty. Ian Kinsler went 6-for-6 and hit for the cycle to lead the team. (The order of his hits: double, homer, single, single, triple, double.) Nelson Cruz led the team with 6 RBIs, 4 of them on 1 swing of the bat in the 8-run 4th. Like in the 30-3 game, Baltimore took the early lead, up 2-0 before Texas got to bat and 3-1 after 2 full innings. This was hardly the only offense-heavy game, though. Others that hit double digits: St. Louis 12-7 over Arizona, Toronto 12-2 over Minnesota, Seattle 11-3 over LA, Florida 10-4 over Atlanta. Other interesting games: Red Sox-A’s, where Tim Wakefield took a no-hit bid into the eighth, and Dodgers-Giants, where the Dodgers won with a walkoff walk. Also: Jose Reyes scored from first on a passed ball. Yeah, really. It helped that there had also been a runner on third at the time. Ken Griffey Jr. homered in the Mariners’ win, his 400th homer as a Mariner.

Blackout Conclusion

Well…obviously not. No black burn (did you catch that pun in the last entry?), no RBI crown theft, no runs at all for Minnesota. 1-0 the final score, in true Chicago fashion–a solo home run, courtesy of Jim Thome. Fellow 38-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. made a game saving defensive play in the fifth inning, throwing out Michael Cuddyer at home plate. Such a shame, really–Minnesota was the better story, thanks to their big off-season trade with would-be first-round opponent Tampa. Joe Mauer went 0-for-3 but retains the batting crown.

Bonus blackout: Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, scoring all of their points in the fourth quarter in a 14-13 victory over the Florida Atlantic Owls, the game-winning touchdown coming with no time left on the clock. Teams utilizing the blackout go 2-0 on the night, and now it’s time for “There’s Only One October!”

Deadline collection

“I was upset they threw him out of the game because he’s really good hittin’. He’s a cute little fella. He doesn’t throw that hard and doesn’t have very good stuff. It’s probably a good thing they threw him out, because it probably would have been (hit to) Monument Park. I love facing him. He doesn’t have many out pitches. He should be fortunate he is in the big leagues”–The always-quotable Kevin Millar on Edwar Ramirez after yesterday’s game, a 13-3 Yankee win. I was spot on about Millar yesterday–he really does do his best work against the Yankees, with six of his sixteen homers this year coming against them. The Yankees remained busy, trading Kyle Farnsworth to Detroit for Pudge Rodriguez and also dealing LaTroy Hawkins to Houston for a minor leaguer. The addition of Pudge brings them one step closer to having a full set of wild-card era rings on one team. Of the thirteen seasons since the wild card era began, the Yanks now have members of eight championship teams–’96 (Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte), ’98, ’99, ’00 (the three from ’96 plus Posada), ’02 (Jose Molina), ’03 (Pudge), ’04 (Damon), and ’05 (Marte). Okay, sure, they sort of already had ’03 with Pavano…I’ll admit it, I got confused at first as to which Marlins team Pudge had been on, thought he’d been on the ’97 one. Still, I doubt there’s any other team with championship rings from as many different years. Wait…actually, the Red Sox come close. In addition to the numerous members of the ’04 and ’07 championship teams still with the team, they have rings from 1992 (Timlin), ’93 (also Timlin), ’01 (Schilling), ’03 (Beckett and Lowell)…no, that’s still one short. Blame it on those Yankee teams, whose few remaining active players are mostly still Yankees. Anyway, while Manny hasn’t been traded yet, Ken Griffey Jr. is headed for Chicago, off to join the division-leading White Sox. And suddenly, they don’t look so out of place in the big dance.

Also, echoing a sentiment expressed by Baseball This Morning host Mark Patrick, Manny held up a sign yesterday that read “I’m going to Green Bay for Brett Favre straight-up”. Think Manny’s an XM listener?

So hot, it can only be summer

Which two likely future Hall of Famers made their major league debuts
in the same game? The date was  April 3, 1989 (literally a
lifetime ago for me, give or take a few days), and the Seattle Mariners
were starting their season off in Oakland. The visiting M’s had a pair
of rookies in the lineup that day: Ken Griffey Jr., slugger supreme, in
centerfield. and defensive whiz (and a fairly good singles hitter to
boot) Omar Vizquel at shortstop. Griffey hit his 600th career home run
in the first inning of yesterday’s 9-4 win over the Marlins, a game in
which the Reds had a homer in each of the first three innings. Paul
Bako, who homered in the second, added a second home run in the ninth.
He wasn’t the only player with two home runs on the day, as Evan
Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays punctuated his return to Southern
California with a pair of jacks against the team he grew up rooting
for, the California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Griffey became just the sixth player in major league history to hit 600
home runs. The one hit also temporarily broke a tie with the
aforementioned Vizquel for 68th on the all-time hits list. Like I said,
both of them are pretty good hitters. Did you know that Vizquel at one
point looked like he could tie the single-game hits record? August 31, 2004,
when the Indians visited the Yankees. As the visiting Tribe pounded the
host Yankees, Vizquel already had two singles, a double, three RBIs,
and two runs scored by the end of the third inning, and would add
another run scored and RBI as he started off the game 6-for-6, four
singles and two doubles. However, he flied out in the ninth inning, his
seventh at-bat, and had to settle for a 6-for-7–one hit shy of the
record for a nine-inning game.

(Cue up music: “Walk Like an Egyptian”) You know that a bad pun is coming, right? Yes, Miguel Cairo–incidentally,
the Yankees’ second baseman for all nine innings of that game mentioned
earlier–had the first bases-loaded extra-inning suicide squeeze by a
visiting player since 1976, providing the winning run in the tenth
inning for the Mariners at the Rogers Centre. (Statistics courtesy of
XM’s “Baseball This Morning”) Extra-inning bases-loaded squeeze plays
are rare in any event–when Melvin Mora sealed the Red Sox’ AL East
championship with a two-out 10th-inning bases-loaded bunt base hit to
beat the Yankees following a ninth-inning that saw the Yanks blow a
three-run lead when Mariano Rivera gave up a two-out, bases-loaded
triple to Jay Payton, on September 28th of last season, it was the first extra-innings bases-loaded bunt
in three years–but with the uncertainty that being a visiting team in
extra innings can produce, it’s even rarer for a visitor to squeeze.

An addition, courtesy of an article on ESPN.com about why “home field advantage” appears to be at an all-time high:

“I have always thought,” said White Sox GM Kenny Williams, “that
outside of Boston, New York and Minnesota — yes, Minnesota, due to the
House of Horror Dome — there are no great advantages for home teams in
baseball.”

Yes, “House of Horror Dome” is inside the quotation marks. Have the
White Sox ever been this entertaining? And so far, it’s just been
manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Kenny Williams. Imagine how much fun
they’ll be if A.J. Pierzynski makes a return to form.