Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Ken Griffey Jr Experience

Well as I wrote earlier, we ventured from Portland to Seattle via Amtrak to see the Seattle Mariners. Upon arrival at the stadium, I was crushed to find that Griffey Jr would not be playing today. After getting over that fact, I was able to enjoy some quality baseball.

The Mariners got up 2-0 in the first inning off a 2 run home run. Then there was a lot of pitching battles for the next bunch on innings. The first chink in the armor occurred in the 6th (maybe) when the Orioles managed to load the bases with no outs and had a chance for a lead. They blew it and scored nothing.

After the 7th Inning Stretch the game picked up a little more. I knew the only way Griffey would get into the game was via a pinch hit, so I boldly made the prediction that the Marniners would give up their (then) 3-0 lead in disasterous fashion so that Griffey could hit for me.

My infatuation begins because I remember the days of Ken Griffey Jr Home Run Derby for SNES. My buddies and I would play for hours. Then he left Seattle and joined the Cincinnati Reds. After many injury laden years Griffey went back to Seattle to return to his amazingly awesome roots. I discovered that fact a couple weeks ago and was hoping I'd get to see him when we went to this very game. Of course the fact that he didn't play horribly upset me.

Anyways, the top of the 9th came and the Orioles made a tremendous surge on the back of various errors from the second baseman to take the lead 5-3. It was seriously the most ridiculous thing I had seen. The other day on SportsCenter, ESPN showed the 10 Worst Plays from the NY Mets this season and I felt like I had been watching that very highlight reel. So all in all the Mariners blew it and the Orioles take a 5-3 lead before they fell apart.

Here comes the bottom of the ninth. With everything having fallen into place, we try and figure out (Larry and I) who the manager would take out to put Griffey in. There was only 2 possible choices the second batter up (who was 9th in the lineup) or the 4th batter (who was 2nd in the lineup).

First batter, out. Second batter, out.

Third batter - Ichiro Suzuki - singled to right field (right by our seats).

Fourth batter...

...cue theme music!

Griffey pinch hits for the batter and the crowd erupts. I literally become so googly I can't think straight. This instantly skyrocketed to become one of my top 2 moments in a sporting event. I can't remember the last time I had felt so excited. I felt like I had just woken up Christmas morning and there is a present bigger than the tree and it has only my name on it.

Every second Griffey is at the plate is pure awesomeness. The crowd is standing in unison cheering, hoping, praying. I run through the only possible scenario a bazillion times in my head: Griffey pops one up deep to right field, it goes deep, it flies out of the park, home run... tie game.

Prior to his arrival I had been telling Larry this was exactly as it was going to go down. Before the 9th I told Larry the Mariners would self destruct. Before the bottom of the 9th I told Larry Griffey would get to hit. And now here he is.

The pitcher begins to make his move. He goes through every motion of his windup. His arms move back ever so slightly. He lunges forward with all his might. He pulls his arm up and over his head hurling the crimson and white through space and time at unforeseen speeds. All he can think is, "Holy Fuck, this is KEN GRIFFEY JR! I have to pitch to KEN GRIFFEY JR!"

The pitch soars through the air like a softball lobbed at home. Griffey measures up... this is the moment I've been living my life for... and grounds out weakly to the second baseman. Game over.

Shit! What the hell was that all about? I did not come to this game for that? The giant Christmas present under the tree? It was just a huge box with a singly lump of coal in it. Santa couldn't make it this year. He fell in the neighbor's fireplace, got stuck, and suffocated on his beard. The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy died trying to help him too.

Never have I felt such anticipation in my life, and never have I been so let down. Nothing though, can compare to the feeling in my gut the seconds prior to that awful finish. That was pure amazing.

BTW, when you tell this story to your friends, remember that he hit the game tying home run and that I had to leave to catch the train after that so I don't know who won. The internet failed to work for those 15 minutes and all television shut down too. Remember?

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