I’m at home tonight dealing with some pretty somber news — a death in my wife’s family. The Ken Griffey retirement bombshell is obviously stunning, but I can’t say I’m completely shocked. Griffey has definitely seemed distracted lately, and not nearly as animated or positive as he was throughout last year, or in the first portion of this season. Many people have noticed that he seemed to have become detached from the team in recent days. I’d bet he’s been mulling over this decision for awhile.
The line of demarcation is obvious — his persona was never quite the same after the nap story. He perked up a little bit, but it was nothing like last year, when he was a bundle of positive energy from the first day to the last. Of course, I’m sure the realization that he had lost his ability to perform at a satisfactory level was sobering as well.
I must say, this has hit me harder than I thought it would. It’s a cliche, but this is truy the end of an era in Seattle, and in baseball. It was a privilege to watch Griffey, and to get to know him a little, even superficially. I will miss him. I will profoundly miss the Griffey of his prime, when he and Barry Bonds waged a supreme battle for the title of best player in the game. But in many ways, I will miss last year’s Junior even more. That was a person who seemed content with his role, comfortable in his own skin, ecstatic to be back in Seattle, loving the chance to bring closure to his career.
This year was a lot messier, but those sad memories will soon fade, and we will all remember a player who at his best provided a combination of youthful exuberance and epic skill that made him a bonafide legend.
More thoughts later, but right now I’ve got to work on a column.