Slow Turning

Like the song says, you can learn to live with love or without it

George Kenneth Griffey, Jr

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My favorite baseball player ever, and not for his gold gloves, homeruns, stolen bases, or amazing catches.  He’s my favorite player because of the way he plays the game.  And by the way he plays the game; I don’t mean the right way or the wrong way, just simply the way he plays.  When I see him on the field, he doesn’t come across as someone who’s counting his money or accomplishments, but rather the minutes he’s in the game.


I do not know him personally and have never met him, so my opinion is based solely on what I see of him on the field.  In person he may not be real or genuine.  He may not even love playing baseball.  But that’s not what I believe because it’s not what I see once the umpire calls out, “Play ball!”


Whenever I see him on the field, I fall in love with baseball all over again.  The game is amazing on many different levels, but what’s best about it is that it is very much a childhood game.  Even if you never played baseball growing up, I bet you ran around with your friends.  Did you have races?  Play catch?  In its simplest form baseball is hitting, running, catching, and sneaking by to steal a base.  I have many happy childhood memories of running around with friends.  Seeing Junior stirs the same fond emotion that only those memories can invoke.


That Junior has excelled at the game is great because it has resulted in additional opportunities to see him on the field.  Cincinnati fans may disagree with me, though.  His spectacular moments may have been few and far between while he was a Red, but they were witnesses to his incredible career milestones.  They got to share in moments that can never again be duplicated.  I only hope that they appreciated their time watching them.


Now that he’s back in Seattle, I feel like baseball has come alive again.  That’s not meant as a slight to any of the other Mariner players – both before and since Junior’s first run in Seattle.  There are many former Mariner players that I miss, and current Mariners that have endeared themselves, not only to me, but to all Mariner fans.  However, none have had the same impact on me as Junior.  In an era that has turned baseball into big business, he reminds of the love of the game.


Truth be told, I am convinced that Junior is the greatest player that I will ever see in my lifetime.  Every part of his game has always come across as effortless.  He doesn’t run on the baseball field, he glides; he doesn’t catch fly balls, they come to rest in his glove; he doesn’t hit home runs, he hits line drives!


As a fan, what baseball and Junior have meant to me as a fan was sharply brought into focus when I heard: in the 1990s, he lead the league in RBIs, was tied for most gold gloves with Greg Maddux, and was second in home runs to Mark McGwire.  Until hearing that, I had been indifferent to the use of steroids in baseball.  It just seems so prevalent, not just in baseball, but in many sports.  Besides, I never believed that they could make anyone that much better of an athlete.  (If I ever took steroids, I think I would finally have a muscle or two, but would still lack any athletic skill.)  Of course that was until I heard the news.


As soon as the words were out, I felt cheated.  All of a sudden I felt like I had lost something.  I don’t even know what it was, but it’s now gone.  Maybe It was just my ignorance about steroids and baseball.  Whatever it is, I feel ashamed for the game of baseball to have this on their record books.  It’s not just that Junior isn’t at the top of the list.  It’s the reason why he’s not.  The man who played with such natural ability is a victim of synthetic achievement in the record books.  I will forever hold onto my memories of him, but what will future generations haves?  No one memorizes video clips.



Written by rachel

March 4, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Posted in Baseball

Tagged with , , , ,

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