The beneficiary of MLB Extra Innings, I was able to watch yesterday's series wrap up in Philadelphia. Waching the entire sequence of Ken Griffey, Jr. approaching the plate for his final appearance in Philly for the season (and possibly ever), then drive one a few feet short of home run #600, and finally walk off the field to a spine-tingling, hair-raising standing ovation was simply awesome.
These are fans that are supposedly amongst the most brutal on players in the entire country. Each one of them stood up, arms stretched skyward when the ball left his bat. They were about to witness history. There was a collective sound of dismay when the ball was caught followed by an ovation that showed genuine class and respect for an incredible career. Junior's walk to the dugout was akin to Arnold Palmer walking up the 18th apron toward the green at his final Master's. I suspect Griffey will have a few more 18th holes ahead of him this season. Each one will give me goose bumps.
I don't contribute to this site much anymore. I used to. I got kind of annoyed with the elitist atmosphere and ensuing tiered privileges. (i.e. I have more ties to the Reds than some of the current players, but if I ever want to contribute a thought to a thread on The Honors Society board I need to take a seat at the back of the bus.)
Whatever - apparently too many members created a site impossible to moderate so adjustments were made. That's actually not the point of this message, but it does feed into it.
This season in particular, I have read on these boards more Griffey bashing than I can handle. Many RZ members jump on every possible opportunity to log in and point out his mistakes. To demand he be removed from the lineup. To propose countless trade offers. To bemoan his spot in the batting order.
Yesterday it was to, once again, tear him apart for his play in RF. As I said, I watched the game - and according to the game thread, it wasn't shown locally in Cincy so many game thread contributers were relying on radio. The ball he dropped was in the lights. Even after being informed of this, RZ members tried to find ways to blame him. How can there be lights, they say? It's a day game! Then he took a roundabout route to get to the next ball. Imagine if he had made a beeline for it, dove, and came up short and let the ball skip to the wall.
The overwhelming reaction to that play was that Griffey sucks in RF and should have taken a different route to the ball in order to make the catch.
Meanwhile, just a few innings later, devoted fans of the Philadelphia Phillies rose to their feet to applaud one of the greatest players to ever take the field. They were doing this while faceless "fans" sat behind their computer monitors and did their best impersonation of whiny little b*tches.
Here's my question - not that any of these offenders will see it buried here in the little boys room: How many of you ever played the game? I'm not talking about T-ball, little league, or benchwarming for your HS team. How many of you have ever played more than 50 games in a season? How many have ever torn your hamstring to shreds? How many of you have hit a single home run in a major league baseball game?
My percepton is this site is loaded with thousands of a different breed of fan than I knew growing up. Everyone is so concerned with VORP, BABIP, and BLOWBALLS. People here will spend hours researching multiple seasons of statistics to prove a point - especially if it means proving someone else wrong. It's the largest community pissing match I've ever seen. There is no appreciation for baseball here, and certainly none for the players who have more talent than any single one of us has ever had.
To conclude this rant - I know things won't change here. People will continue to call for Junior's head and praise the Gods of OPS when he takes off the Reds uniform for the last time. I love the Reds with the kind of deep loyalty one can't describe. It's a relationship I've harbored for more than 35 years. I want them to win more than anyone. So save your attacks on this message about comparing an appreciation for an individual career vs. wanting to see a winning team on the field. The Reds can win with Griffey batting third and playing RF. He is not their problem.
To the whiny little b*tches who think Griffey is the reason the Reds are 10 games back, I feel sorry for you, for you have a depressing perception of the great game of baseball, and zero appreciation for one of its best players ever.