Urban: Here's to 'The Kid'

Urban: Here's to 'The Kid'
June 3, 2010, 8:27 pm
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June 3, 2010
Its a little bit sad that Ken Griffey Jr. is going out like this, on the heels of a mini-controversy about alleged clubhouse napping.Then again, good luck jogging your memory for another controversy in which Junior was involved over his 22 years in the big leagues. Better pack a lunch if youre going in search of something sordid in his past.Its also a little sad that Griffey is basically retiring because hes just not a very good player anymore.Then again, that happens to a ton of once-great athletes, and at least hes bright enough to recognize it. Nothing worse than seeing a former star forced out of orbit by lack of employment options, against his will.And finally, its sad that Junior, as phenomenally gifted as he was, never quite realized his full potential. His body betrayed his talent, and it boggles the mind to consider what that gorgeous swing and graceful ease of athleticism would have produced over an uninterrupted run of 20 healthy seasons.Then again, look at what he did accomplish despite the myriad injuries. He saved baseball in Seattle. He reinvigorated the game in his hometown of Cincinnati. He made enough highlight-reel defensive plays to win 10 Gold Gloves and earn a spot on the short list of all-time outfielders.Oh, and he went deep a few times. Like, 630 times. Without ever being even remotely associated with the scourge of the modern game that is performance-enhancers.And then there was that smile. That joy. That inner 10-year-old, hat turned backward, loving every minute of it.Junior didnt love every minute of it, of course. There isnt an athlete who does, especially among those whove spent so much time in rehab.But Junior loved his job, and his obvious love and gift for the game will be Topic 1 in six years, when hes inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.I dont have a vote, but hed certainly get mine.