Sunday, June 1, 2008

Passing The Torch

I didn’t anticipate writing a post today. I have what looks like 1st degree burns, probably is 2nd degree burns, and feels like 3rd degree burns. Yes, it was “mow the yard day” in Byram. No more shirtless mowing for me.

My wife knew that when I was finished with the yard I was going to be watching Griffey and Manny try to hit their way further into the history books. Unfortunately, Boston’s game against the Orioles isn’t televised here today. So, I’ve opted for the Braves - Reds match up.

I started watching around the third inning. Griffey had just hit the 599th home run of his career and I missed it. I’ve watched him drop countless fly balls at the wall in center all year long and I’ve been pulling for him to get it together. Mind you, I’ve never been a true Jr. fan. However, I’m a fan of anyone reaching milestones such as this.

As usual, I fell asleep before the 7th inning stretch. My wife woke me in the 8th inning when she and my son returned from a birthday party for our neighbor’s kid. I sat up on the couch and saw that Lori was on her computer. After a few minutes she gave me a run-down of everything I missed from the game while I was asleep. What a wonderful wife!

After getting a bearing for where the game was I realized that I wouldn’t be seeing Griffey hit the elusive 600 in today’s game. He more than likely wouldn’t get another at bat. And then, lo and behold, the tides turn and Rafael Soriano blows the lead by allowing Ryan Freel to score from third. I don’t know, maybe I’ve been out of the game too long but doesn’t common sense and logic say that this shouldn’t have been your decision based on the scenario?

You’re up by one run in the bottom of the 9th. 1 out, man on 1st, man on 3rd, and the batter hits a routine grounder. The pitcher fields the ball, hesitates for the runner on 3rd, and then opts for the easy out at 1st. The runner on 3rd waits for the pitcher to commit to 1st and then takes off for home. He is safe by 8 inches.

Hold the friggin’ runner at 3rd. Hope that the next batter grounds into a double play. I don’t know, I just can’t see giving up the tying run to get the second out of the inning in that scenario. Anyways, I digress, back to the topic.

I started to get a little excited when I saw the batting order for bottom of the 10th. It would be Hairston, Bruce, and then Griffey. I sat up and began to watch intently again. Hairston went down looking on a great pitch from Manny Acosta. Jay Bruce steps into the batter’s box.

The count reaches 2-1. Acosta let’s fly the next pitch. Before the bat hit the ball there was a feeling of greatness. Watching Bruce’s stance you knew that in that split second if he connects, it’s gone. It was that good of a swing. Effortless, graceful, frustrating. Game Over.

I watched the young upstart round the bases grinning wildly, ecstatic to have won the game by hitting his first ever major league home run. The announcers couldn’t quit relaying the impact this young man is having on the game of Baseball and Cincy’s chances for a Fall appearance. I was simply ticked off.

I then had an epiphany. I was no longer upset that I didn’t get to witness the inevitable entry of Griffey as the 6th member of the 600 homer club. I realized that I had just watched a great young future star hit the first home run of his career. I may have just witnessed history in the making today.

One day, Jay Bruce will probably be traded somewhere. I like to think that, based on his impressive display in the Bigs so far, he will one day reach milestones of his own. Maybe when I’m 45 he’ll be winding down a long and illustrious career, preferably with the Indians. Maybe he’ll be up to bat after some hot new rookie. Maybe he’ll have to put his helmet and bat back in the dugout and wait his turn. Maybe history will repeat itself. Maybe it will be my kid making him wait after he smacks his first MLB home run.

I did notice that as the screen displayed the final scores that the camera panned across various images of the players from both sides, the fans, and the field. I watched as Ken Griffey, Jr. began to take his batting gloves and helmet off, he then took his bat and headed back to the dugout. There were no pats on the back for Griffey. Yet, he never once stopped smiling.

I can imagine the thoughts in his mind. I can imagine that it brought back various memories from his days in Seattle in the early 90’s. I like to think that Griffey was, to some extent, reflecting back on a long and fruitful career. I’m pretty sure he was thinking to himself, “Great job, Bruce!”

But more than anything, Griffey was smiling because he knows his day will soon come. Gone are the days that “The Kid” has to worry about constantly having to hit the next home run. He only has to focus on hitting one more.

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