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Junior And What Baseball Is All About

 I made it to the Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners Hall of Fame Ceremony (and "game" afterwards), courtesy a spare ticket from a good friend. The picture to the right is from my seat. The oft-desolate upper deck in the outfield was filled, I promise. I know because I was there. The game was the first sellout of the season for the M's - opening day included.

So Seattle really loves Ken Griffey Jr. That's not news. Still, the atmosphere was even more electric than the explosive front that blew through Puget Sound the night before. Griffey jerseys of all vintages littered the ballpark. I was amazed that, not only so many people had Griffey jerseys, but that so many people knew where they were. There were some serious blasts from the past in the stands. You'd think some of those shirts and jerseys would have been in storage, and maybe they were. However, apparently, if Mariners fans know one thing, it's where they last put their Ken Griffey Jr. jersey.

Fans made it clear why they showed up at the game too. Safeco was steadily vacated once the Brewers erupted in the seventh inning. I even turned to my good friend and asked him how he thought Lucas Luetge felt, considering it looked like about 25,000 people had left since he took the mound. My friend's response? "He's probably used to it, since he always comes in when the Mariners are down big."

Lucas Luetge, it turns out, is no Ken Griffey Jr. In a backwards way, the 10-0 drubbing the M's took made it clear just how much Seattle loves the Kid, even in retirement. The empty stadium in the ninth inning made it so obvious that the vast majority of folks came to the game just for Junior.

The most interesting, and by interesting I really mean awkward, part of Griffey's speech was when he defended the M's leadership. He let the fans know that he hears the criticism that they don't want to win, and he assured us that they absolutely want to win. Nobody booed him, and several gave a nice golf clap, but it was a surprising twist in his meandering, surprisingly long speech.

Lincoln and Armstrong are often criticized, and I think it's silly to say they don't want to win, but I've often wondered how much winning matters in balance to other factors. In their defense though, winning isn't all that matters.

Bio Nemesis

The Biogenesis hammer finally came down in baseball yesterday and it packed a rather mighty punch. A dozen players were suspended, including A-Rod's whopping 221-game ban, and not including Ryan Braun's 65-game plea bargain announced weeks ago. The ruling resulted in a flurry of writing across the internet (here are a few) and part of me feels sheepish adding to the pile. So much has already been said, and so much can be said in general. There are lots of players involved, plus some deep ethics about the integrity of sports. Add in some star power, courtesy Braun, A-Rod, and the uncaught juicers of a previous generation, and there is simply a large swath of material to write about.

I could go with a Mariners focus and talk about Jesus Montero. However, that's not a blog post. It's a paragraph. How much is there to say? Jesus had a deflating, though not terrible, rookie campaign in 2012. He opened up this season as the starting catcher, got demoted to Tacoma after a few months of poor hitting to go with his poor fielding, injured his knee and missed a few months, then made it back to Tacoma for a little while before getting suspended yesterday for the rest of the season. There are failures and then there is Montero's 2013 campaign. He has hit rock bottom. He will rebound. I don't know how much he'll rebound, but my goodness have things gone wrong for him this year. I wouldn't say Montero is the victim of any bad luck, but things have certainly gone wrong in 2013. Here's hoping he puts 2013 behind him by learning and maturing some.

The most interesting angle of the Biogenesis story, to me, has been the rush to define legacies. Many pieces written in the last few days read almost like eulogies for Alex Rodriguez. I am curious to see how editorials from significant sportswriters like George Vecsey and Tom Verducci age as they looked to place A-Rod's career in perspective in the immediate wake of the Biogenesis ruling. The reality is that yesterday was the largest suspension for off-field activities since the Black Sox scandal in 1919, and that places Biogenesis in a stratosphere that I, frankly, never expected to see in baseball again.