Thursday, June 03, 2010

Junior steps away

I remember watching Junior when he made his major league debut.

I recall looking at that distinctive, upright stance and level swing, so uncharacteristic of any left-handed power hitters, before or since, and his tall, lean frame; and commenting to my dad that his swing was less like a home-run hitter's and more like a run-producing lead-off hitter, driving the ball into the alleys. He agreed.

He then went on a tear of about a dozen years, redefining what a power hitter could be. I seriously thought he'd be able to keep up the pace he was setting by about age 30, eventually eclipsing all others for that vaunted spot along side the likes of Maris, Aaron and Ruth.

Then the trade to the Reds, along with the injuries.

Some time after the first hamstring injury, I thought Junior developed a serious attitude problem. Then more injuries. Less playing time. Worse attitude, it seemed. He was never the same after the trade to Cincinnati, and I'm pretty certain that he was doing a little bit of Judy-Boy, Prima Donna dancing for a while, injuries notwithstanding.

Still, he hit dingers well into the twilight of his career, if not on the same pace as before, and, as the article clearly articulated, was never mentioned in the same breath with the 'roid stars who were his contemporaries of the game. He managed to put himself into the top five on talent alone, and if we discount the cheater at the top of the career home run list, I'd say he's with good company.

I hope he can still love the game after struggling with regaining his form for so long.

He's a shoe-in for Cooperstown.

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Blogger Tam said...

One of my favorite Junior-related memories was in '98 or '99, when the trade rumors started swirling, one of the teams in the running was my Braves. The Mariners wanted a package that included then up-and-comer Andruw Jones, but the Braves wouldn't deal him. When asked what he thought about that by an interviewer, Andruw said "Hey, I'd trade me for Ken Griffey."


(WV: "kerrytec". "All the kerrytec in the world couldn't gin up a plausible-looking memo."

9:00 AM  

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