Friday, October 07, 2005

The Comeback Kids.

Ken Griffey Jr. just may be the most root-able player in the game. Of all the top sluggers in the 1990s, he's virtually the only survivor who has escaped the "is-he-or-isn't-he?" whispers of witch hunt finger-pointing frenzy that steroids ignited in Baseball. True Class Acts are rare in sports; what athlete is without some sort of controversy? And what athletes are impossible to hate? I think we all root for the Cincinnati Kid, a bizarro pedigree of his Big Red Machine father and another certain left-handed outfielder born in Donora, Pennsylvania on November 21st, because he plays the game like we did when we were 9.

If he retired today, he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. As he is now, 2005 was the closest year he's had to a full season since 2000. Like Andruw Jones today, we used to forget how young Griffey really was. Now we're forgetting how old he's really getting. But in his Age 35 Season, Ken Griffey Jr. smacked 35 home runs in 128 games on his way to a fantastic .945 OPS, good for 14th in the majors. Giving the freak injuries that have numbed his decade so far, Junior's 2005 is a welcome return to form for fans and is exactly the kind of player this award was invented for.

Jason Giambi, on the other hand...Well, of course, he had a torrid July-on, re-establishing himself as a force in the deep Yankee lineup. But isn't it obvious what he was coming back from? Considering how steroids has revealed itself as a stain on Baseball's blouse, what's the lesson they're teaching to ballplayers and the public at large here? Look, I actually pride myself on not really giving a shit about the morality issue concerning steroids but does this bother anyone else? I mean, giving a $13,428,571 first baseman who can't play first base an award for not doing drugs anymore? I know his OBP was sick and all but come on, now...

P.S. - Because they just couldn't pass up an opportunity to be involved with another one of McCain's suspects, Viagra, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, is now sponsoring the Comeback Player of the Year Award. One performance-enhancing drug company rewards another performance-enhancing drug user. Horray!

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