Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Griffey Jr, Piazza Enshrined in Hall

This past Sunday, the 2016 Hall of Fame Class was inducted in Cooperstown.  Two big names made up the list this year - Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza.  One could argue that both were the best at their position over a 10 year period in the 90s and early 00s.  Griffey was one of only 3 players to hit 500 HRs and earn 10 gold gloves and had seven(!) seasons of 40 homeruns, including 5 consecutive in his heyday from 1996-2000.  He was also the first to go into the Hall donning a Mariners cap, although in my opinion if Greg Maddux was allowed to have the cap on his plaque be sans-team, Griffey should have been allowed to go in with his signature backwards cap.  Piazza was a 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner who hit 427 homeruns, including the most ever as a catcher.  He was also the highest round draft pick to ever go into the Hall - so high in fact that his record will never be broken, because the 62nd round doesn't even exist anymore.

The last few induction classes, including this one, have really started to stand out to me because they are mostly filled with players I grew up watching.  Sure, I wanted to see Jack Morris get into the Hall as much as the next guy, but the players I remember seeing at County Stadium, Miller Park, and The GAB as an adolescent have a special place in my heart because I associate them with the time in my life when I really grew to love the game.  The 2016 class in particular holds personal meaning to me because Griffey and Piazza were two of the most popular players of their generation by far, and helped baseball grow in popularity once again.  Every kid in the 1990s had a #24 Griffey Mariners jersey and wore their hat backwards on the ball field to emulate Griffey.  He even stayed incredibly popular when he was traded to Cincinnati and was largely a shadow of his former self.  This is the time period, while attending college at UC, when I got to watch Griffey the most.  A 2005 Reds Griffey bobblehead was even the first of what is now an extensive collection I own.  Even as an aging star who saw the field less and less between injuries, that sweet swing and childlike enthusiasm remained and kept fans coming back to watch a perennially awful Reds team.  And speaking of sweet swings, that powerful stroke from Mike Piazza is what I will always remember about him the most.  I can still vividly picture that upright stance, those wide shoulders, that mustachey growl, batting with his Dodgers catching helmet turned forward instead of the standard ear-flap helmet, and most of all, the 2000 Subway Series vs the Yankees.

There's no doubt that these were two of my favorite players in high school and college, and as the years pass it is going to be harder for me to pass on the opportunity to attend one.  I can't even imagine how insane the crowd will be when Derek Jeter goes in on the first ballot in 2020.

Brewers 42-55, -16.5, -10.0 WC (3 v. Pirates, 3 @ Padres, 3 @ Diamondbacks)
Reds 39-60, -20.5, -14.0 WC (3 @ Padres, 3 v. Cardinals, 3 @ Pirates
Twins 37-61, -19.5, -18.0 WC (3 v. White Sox, 4 @ Indians, 3 @ Rays)

Erik - 11 (+17 worked)

Peter - 23

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