I was online last night and half my RSS feeds (it seemed like at least) were people chiming that Griffey Jr. had returned. Even Andrew, normally a political blogger, is piling on. Not that Andrew isn’t known for piling on.
Honestly, I wonder how many people would have cheered if Baseball America had ranked our farm system in the top 5. We were #11 last year, by the way. That at least would be an indignation that our team would be a winner in the next few years.
What I hope for is that Griffey is able to perform well, get 500 at bats and end his career as a Mariner. I hope he goes into the Hall of Fame and as a Mariner. But, all of that sort of stuff is emotional.
What I really want is for this to be a bookend to our emotions regarding the Mariners since 1995 for most, but since 1989 for me. This backlog of emotions is where we get the “Edgar as batting coach” and “Dan Wilson as manager” sort of thing. That somehow if we go to the recycling bin and brush off the guys we used to love and plop them in an appropriate spot, September 1995 might somehow magically appear again.
Ken Griffey Jr. is 39 years old. He had a .425 slugging percentage last year between two teams and drove in 71 runs. All of that isn’t bad, but signing him is an expensive way to recognize that our memories of victory are more powerful than our logic of what we know it takes to build a winner.
I’m hoping this is more like signing Ken Griffey Sr. in 1990. And, that five years from now — with a new person in Niehaus’s spot and with a bunch of guys that we don’t know now but we’ll eventually love — we’ll have a good reason to wait in our cars for the game to be over.
The Wedding reception for Gayle Frink and Randy Schulz at the Seattle Yacht Club will have to carry on without who sits in his car in the parking lot with the engine off and the radio on. He dares not leave, not as long as the Mariners have one last turn to bat, one last turn to alchemize imminent defeat into another magical victory.
It is Sept. 24, a Sunday afternoon. Yes, this is a blessed, once-in-a-lifetime event. It’s the first time the Mariners have been in first place this late in the season in their 19 years of existence. Cripes, they had never been in first place even as late as Memorial Day. Gayle’s wedding? It’s her second.
So the radio and the listener cannot be separated, as if the connection is magnetic. Seattle, trailing by a run, has one man on against Oakland A’s closer Dennis Eckersley in the bottom of the ninth. The voice of Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus crackles through the car’s speakers: “Here comes the pitch to Tino…. Swung on and belted!…. Deep to right-field…. And that will be…. Flying away! The Mariners win it, 9-8, in perhaps the most incredible game in their history! And 46,000 fans are losing their minds in Seattle! Tonight, I guarantee you, it will be sleepless in Seattle for everybody who was here today, including me!”
Holy matrimony! The Mariners have done it again. Now the guest can join the wedding party. He takes the keys from the ignition, slips out of his car and shuts the door. And this is what he hears: the whoomp of about 20 other car doors closing at almost the same time. Other guests have been captivated by the Mariners too. Soon they are high-fiving in the yacht club parking lot. The party has just begun.