Baltimore Orioles: Ken Griffey Jr. and the hall
A former Baltimore Orioles’ opponent will head to the Hall of Fame in July.
Over the years the Baltimore Orioles have had lots of worthy opponents. However perhaps none more so than Ken Griffey Jr, who along with Mike Piazza, headlines the 2016 MLB Hall of Fame class announced yesterday. Griffey led the day with 99% of the vote, the highest ever in baseball history.
Some folks will say that anyone who didn’t vote for Junior should lose his credentials, and in a way I might agree that I’d be curious why one wouldn’t vote for someone like him. However keep in mind that nobody’s ever gotten in with a unanimous vote, so presumably they don’t want to change that. Now with that said I’d also like to hear a reason as to why one wouldn’t vote for a guy like Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Piazza, but that’s another story for another day.
Growing up going to Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, there were few players that didn’t wear orange and black that interested me too much. However Ken Griffey Jr. was one of them. (Rickey Henderson was another, for the record.) Griffey played the game with a lot of pizzazz, but also with a lot of class and determination. I always respected that, and I respected the way he carried himself.
Away Back Gone
Unfortunately for me, a player that you admired as a kid and later a young adult being elected to the Hall of Fame is also a sign that you’re getting old! (Mid-thirties, folks…not quite over the hill yet!) But looking back now perhaps the most impressive thing about Ken Griffey Jr. is that to anyone’s knowledge he never juiced. But can we say that for sure?
I would argue that we can say it without much doubt. Normally there are serious rumors which precede someone being manifested as a PED user. Similar to Ripken in Baltimore, there was never a sniff of that type of rumor with Ken Griffey Jr. EVER. So far as I’m concerned, all of his numbers were achieved honestly and without the use of any outside substance to help him hit for more power or anything else.
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Furthermore if you look at his career numbers, they also tailed off towards the end of his career in the manner one would expect. Father Time is undefeated, and that goes for hall of famers also. When guys hit their mid to late thirties (which in general isn’t old, but it’s old for athletes – did I say that for my own benefit?!) they just aren’t capable of doing what they did in their mid twenties. So when you see someone who’s still producing at that clip, it makes you wonder. Heck, to drive the point home further, Griffey famously fell asleep in the clubhouse during a game in Seattle in his last season – nothing says I’m getting up in age better than that!
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Mike Mussina and the Hall of Fame
Ken Griffey Jr. is without a doubt a once-in-a-generation type of player. And there can be no question that he’s a worthy hall of fame player. My hope is that all Orioles fans tip their caps to him today as a worthy competitor who’s getting what’s due to him. And speaking as someone who loves the game, I thank him for what he’s done and meant to the sport. Baseball is a better game for having Ken Griffey Jr. be a part of it.