It’s Opening Day!

What a perfect time to exorcise my Ken Griffey Jr. demons

April 6, 2009

This isn’t the Mariner’s new marketing tagline: "Nostalgia doesn’t win games, but it sure makes you feel good." This is. (And just as well, because even though we’d all appreciate a little more honesty in these days of financial Armageddon–inspired paranoia, it’s still possible to be too honest.) So as the 2009 season of reliving the past rebuilding finally gets underway today for the M’s, the memory stick is doling out flashback beat downs and sentimental whuppings at a decent clip. And if that weren’t enough, yesterday in the Seattle Times, we got notable Mariners’ favorite memories from Ken Griffey Jr.’s first go-around with the club. It was sweet, in a what-people-would-say-about-him-at-his-funeral kind of way, and it got me thinking about my favorite memories of Junior.

And then I realized I don’t have any. In the spirit of honesty in these days of financial Armageddon–inspired paranoia, I hated Ken Griffey Jr. Seriously, the obnoxiously big grin, the impossibly perfect swing, the aren’t-they-precious commercials — it was all just a bit much. But I probably could have let all of that slide if it weren’t for my best friend in middle school. (It all comes back to being picked on as a kid, doesn’t it?) I was the world’s biggest Mark McGwire fan, and my buddy Matt was the world’s biggest Ken Griffey Jr. fan. And from ‘89 to ’91, Junior made Big Mac look like a junior cheeseburger — and Matt never let me hear the end of it. So, naturally, I associated all that ribbing with Junior and his big, stupid grin. (C’mon, I was a kid — I didn’t know anything about transference.)

It’s been 20 years, and with the help of some very talented therapists, I’ve started to work through all of that anger. (It probably helped that McGwire eventually gave me a good reason to hate him instead.) And after all the crying and the personal growth, it’s time to move on. So, Ken — if you’re reading this — as part of my emotional recovery, I’m here to tell you that I’m not mad at you anymore. And I’m even willing to allow — oh god, this is hard — for the possibility of having some good memories of you from this season. Just make sure you stay off the DL long enough to give me one or two, huh?

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