Tagged: griffey

Griffey In Black & White & Centerfield (8/27/08)

The Mariners were nowhere to be found, but on Wednesday, August 27, 2008, Tim and I found ourselves at Camden Yards in Baltimore…

1 - baltimore and nachos.jpg…we bought tickets in straight away centerfield — where Tim enjoyed some nachos before the game got underway.

The reason we came to Baltimore on a Wednesday night to sit in centerfield and watch two teams not including the Mariners?  Simple…

2 - griffey in CF.jpgNone other than my favorite baseball player of all-time, Mr. George Kenneth Griffey, Jr., was in town.  After two failed attempts (here and here) to see Griff play for the Reds, this was the first time Tim ever got to see Griffey play the great sport of Baseball.

And it may well be the only time he ever gets to see Griffey play centerfield.

As this picture shows…

3 - front row smile.jpg…(i) Tim was excited and (ii) we had seats in the first row!

This was our view of Griff in centerfield…

4 - center griff waits.jpg…despite the White Sox uniform, isn’t that beautiful?  Actually, the White Sox uniform is a beautiful sight too.  Because when I learned (about 26 days before this game) that Griffey was going to be wearing number 17 for the White Sox (despite the fact someone had offered him number 30), I was incredibily happy.  To me, that was a huge sign that he didn’t plan on sticking around with the White Sox after playing out the last two months of the season in the south side of Chicago.  That meant one thing to me:  he was going to come home to Seattle.

Anyway, back to the game, here is Griffey getting into this ready position:

5 - center griff ready.jpgIt was awesome to get to see Griff play centerfield again.  And he had plenty of action during this game — he made 5 put outs in his traditional outfield position including a catch just a few feet away from us on the warning track on the Orioles’ first batter (Brian Roberts) of the night.

Check out this beautiful shot of Tim and Griff:

6 - tim and griff.jpgI love taking Tim to see Griff play.  Its like sharing a piece of my own childhood with my boy.  And it was awesome to be sitting right behind him as he manned centerfield like he did throughout his days in Seattle.

Actually, in that last picture, he is shifted over toward LF for the batter.  Usually, he played closer to us than he is in that picture.

Generally, I am not a sign guy.  I think all total, I’ve made a sign to take to a game four times in my life.  But if ever there was a time for a sign, this was it.  And so, we had one with us.  And this was it:

7 - come back.jpgGriff made direct eye contact with this sign several times.  He has a masterful poker face as he stares into the crowd so he in no way acknolwedged the sign.  But he looked directly at us several times as we politely held our sign delivering a very important message on behalf of the people of Seattle…and Mariners fans everywhere.  By the way, see the red circle at the top of the sign?  That circle is around five tally-marks that I drew on the sign to count Griffey’s catches in centerfield.

At some point, we needed ice cream and, because Camden Yards doesn’t have ice cream helmets, we were forced to get these…

8 - ice cream bar.jpgTim still liked it.  But, really?  Dove chocolate covered ice creamcicles at a ball game?  Really?  Not cool, Orioles.

Of course, we were at Camden Yards, so we had to play some make-believe baseball in the flag court.  Here is Tim calling his shot:

9 - shot caller.jpgPretty much our game plan for this game was: (i) watch Griff play CF from the CF seats, (ii) play around in the flag court, and (iii) watch Griff hit from behind home plate.

Here is our view of Griff in the batters box as he prepared for his second at bat…

10 - on deck.jpg…and here is Griff preparing for a pitch…

11 - griff at plate.jpg…a couple pitches later, here are me and Tim from the cross aisle behind home plate…

12 - TJCs behind plate Griff on first.jpg…as Griffey stands on first after his second walk of the night.

Griff had his only official “at-bat” of the night in the top of the sixth inning.  With a runner (Paul Konerko) on first and one out, Griffey did his job by hitting behind the runner and advancing Konerko to second on a ground out to first.

With two outs in the top of the eighth, Griff batted for the final time.  Here he is showing his classic batting stance…

13 - Griffs ChiSox Stance.jpg…and he continued to watch pitches miss the strike zone…

14 - ball.jpg…after six pitches, Griff worked his third and final walk of the night.  His line on the night:

0-1, 3 BB, 5 defensive put outs.  Not too shabby.

15 - another walk.jpgAnd so, with Griff eventually being stranded on first, we took off.  The next time we would see Griffey, we’d be in Seattle and he would be a member of the Seattle Mariners.  Yes!

As for the rest of the game, the Orioles pounded John Danks and the White Sox by a final score of 11-3.  There were five homeruns in the game:  Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Kevin Millar, Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora.

SI: Griffey article

I just read an excellent story about Ken Griffey, Jr.’s return to the Seattle Mariners on Sports Illustrated.com.  The article is almost a year old, but I read it for the first time today.  It does a great job of conveying Ken Griffey, Jr.’s importance to Mariners fans.  So I figured I better share it here:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1154754/1/index.htm

Also, I love that the author mentioned Rick “The Peanut Man” Kaminski and Kid Sensation a/k/a Xola Malik.

Baseball Roadtrip ’08, Day 1: Cardinals at Reds (8/15/08)

Last August, I did an entry summarzing The (First Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip.  The purpose of doing so was to give some background and context for the Second Annual Roadtrip that took me, Tim and my dad through Chicago, Minnesota and Milwaukee in August 2009.  Those entries were just a combination of emails I sent to family members while we were on our first roadtrip.  Now, its time to do actual game updates for those four games.

After I got off work on August 14, 2008, my dad (Jim), Tim and I packed into the car and drove to Washington, Pennsylvania where we spent the night at a KOA.   Over the next five days, we would visit Great American Ball Park in Cinncinati, the Louisville Slugger factory in Kentucky, Progessive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

We woke up on the morning of August 15, 2008, and packed up our stuff to head to Great American Ball Park…

1 - camping hacks.jpg…as my dad packed his stuff, Tim stomped around the campground exploring and hit some whiffle balls off of his Tee.

I’d been watching the Reds on TV since Griffey was traded to Cincinnati, so I knew exactly where we had to go for dinner before the game…


2 - skyline.jpg…Skyline Chili was right on the way as we walked from our hotel to the ball park.  If you like cheddar cheese, this is the place for you.

Downtown Cinncinati slopes down toward the Ohio River, the Ohio-Kentucky border…

3 - welcome to GrAm BP.jpg…and Great American Ball Park.

Now, in the grand scheme of all of the new stadiums, I had heard that Great American Ball Park was nothing special.  But, you know what, I really liked it.  Its no Camden Yards or Safeco Field, but it had a special feel of its own.  In fact, I almost felt like it was a Major Leauge size minor league ball park.  That’s not meant to be insulting.  What I mean is that it sort fo felt *quaint* — maybe it was because we sat in the RF bleachers with the big steam boat nearby in CF and the river behind us.  Anyway, I liked it a lot.

As we approached the main entrance of the ballpark, we found a statute of Ted Kluszewski and a big banner thanking Griffey for his 600th homerun…

4 - kluszewski and griff.jpgTim monkeyed around in the grass between Griff and Kluszewski…

5 - Kluszewski and Timski.jpg…and practiced his power stroke.

Sixteen days before this game, Griffey was traded to the Chicago White Sox.  We’d planned to sit right behind him in RF.

By the way, I didn’t write an entry about it because Tim wasn’t with me, but after missing seeing Griffey’s 600th homerun in Philadelphia, a buddy from high school and I saw Griff’s 601st homerun at Yankee Stadium during interleague play.

With no Griffey in sight, I was all about seeing Albert Pujols do something special in this game.  As we entered the park, Albert was standing right there behind home plate speaking with Edinson Volquez…

6 - pujols volquez.jpg

…a few minutes later, Volquez walked into the Reds dugout just below me and Tim.  All I had on me was a cheap plasticy ball we bought on our way to play catch with on the trip.  Anyway, Volquez and some other unidentified Red signed it.

We headed out to the seats in RF to watch some BP.  It was pretty packed out there.  Tim and I squeezed into the first row and my dad hung back a row or two behind.  We were having no luck.  Then, on what I think was the final pitch of BP, someone hit a ball off the wall right in front of us.  As it bounced off of the wall, all of the Cardinals started to run toward their dugout.  But reliever Chris Perez turned around to grab that ball.  He grabbed it and started running back toward the field.  Then everyone yelled at him.  He turned around.  The 20-something guy next to us and I both pointed at Tim.  Perez fired the ball over to us.

Yes!

It was the first ball Tim had got this season.

With Tim’s new baseball in hand, we headed to the concourse behind 1B and made our way over the Reds Hall of Fame:

7 - got a ball going to reds HOF.jpgAs Team Halls of Fame go, this one probably sets the standard.  It is excellent.

Along the far end of the Reds HOF (closest to the outfield and Ohio River), there is a wall of 4,256 baseballs representing Pete Rose’s record-setting career hit total.

8 - pete rose wall of balls.jpgThe balls cover the wall the entire way as you ascend three flights of stairs.  If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you will see that the balls are all game (or at least BP) used.  They are all dirty and scuffed with bat marks.  Its an excellent visual representation of Rose’s hit record.

The Reds HOF is packed with jerseys, bats, gloves, and shoes with little descriptions of the Reds Hall of Famers.

9 - griffey bench seaver foster.jpgI was happy to see a Ken Griffey, Sr. jersey in there.  I’m a big proponent of team Halls of Fame.  I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should be reserved for the super-elite, best of the best of the best of the best.  Some peopel refer to “inner circle” Hall of Famers.  To me, the “inner circle” should be the entire Hall of Fame.  If a player is borderline, if an “argument” mut be made for a player’s candidacy to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I think that means that player is not a Hall of Famer.

But that doesn’t mean there is no place for such players.  If a player can’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame after years on the ballot.  No problem, those players can still be remembered forever by the people to whom they were most important in their respective team’s hall of fame.  Anyway, those are my two cents.

And anyone lucky enough to make it into the Reds HOF should be very pleased, indeed, this place is spectacular.

Check out this great picture they have on the wall of the members of the Reds HOF:

10 - Reds Hall of Famers.jpgDo you see Ken Griffey, Sr!  He’s almost right in the middle.  And he’s not just in the Reds HOF, we’ll see him again before the end of this entry.

Like a Safeco Field, they have a fake wall where you can pretend to pick-off homeruns.  Unlike Safeco Field, the Reds offer a variety of gloves from past and present.  Check out the sweet piece of leather I picked in the picture below:

11 - reds hof ooooold school glove picks hr.jpgHey, Ken Griffey, Jr. was represented in there as well…

12 - george k griffey jr.jpg…they had a little kids club house type area with little lockers with little jerseys they could wear and slides and things to climb.  In another area, they had a mock *man cave* full of stuff the ultimate Reds fan my have in his den.  Check out this picture of Ken Griffey, Jr.  Notice anything odd?

He signed it “George K. Griffey, Jr.”  I have never seen him do that before.

Soon, it was game time.  I took this panaramic view from our seats in RF.

13 - GrAm RF Panarama.jpgI bought these tickets literally the second they went on sale…in February or March or 2008…and the best they could give us in RF (where I was hoping Griffey might hit a homerun) was 3 rows from the top of the bleachers.


In to top of the first, Pujols popped out.  But the Cards scored two runs on a homerun by Rick Ankiel.

Then, in the bottom of the first, I got this picture just as Reds rookie Chris Dickerson hit his first career homerun.

15 - chris dickersons 1st career homerun.jpg

The ball landed in the Cardinals bullpen just below the glass partition to the left of the picture.

After Dickerson’s homerun, I tried to zoom in for a picture of Albert Pujols, but this is the best my old camera could do:

15a - Pujols.jpgNext, it was time to go get some ice cream helmets.  I headed out toward centerfield…

16 - top of second.jpg…but didn’t find any cream helmets until I made it all the way around to behind home plate.  So I ended up doing a full loop of the ballpark.  I’m sure the wait made Tim appreciate the ice cream even more:

17 - reds ice cream helmet.jpgI took this random shot of the LF seats and the scoreboard.

18 - LF stands and scoreboard.jpgThe scoreboard seems sort of short, doesn’t it?  Its really wide, but not very tall at all.

After we finished our ice cream, we headed back toward home plate because I saw some ballpark artwork I wanted to photograph while I had my hands full of ice cream helmets.  Here they are, two big mosaics of the .

19 - Champion Bat and Big Red Machine.jpgAbove is the 1869 Red Stockings, which according to Wikipedia were the first “openly professional” baseball team.  Below, is the Big Red Machine from the 1970s…including short-time Mariner and father of a future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey.

Back to the game, in the top of the third, Pujols hit a ground rule double.  The first of two doubles and three total hits on the evening.  By the end of the third, a bulk of the scoring for the game was done.  The Cardinals were winning 4-2.  Each team would score only one more run.

Late in the game, I ventured out in search of some pizza and took some more ballpark pictures.  Here is Great American Ball Park from foul territory in the LF corner.

20 - view from LF foul corner.jpgOur seats are all the way across in the top corner of the RF bleachers.

Here are two more pictures:

21 - visitors bullpen and 3B concourse.jpgTo the right, a view of the extra wide concourse in foul territory down the 3B line.  To the left, a picture of the Cardinals bullpen.  Directly across the field I have circled in yellow the big open concourse pictured to the right.

After taking that shot of the bullpen, I turned to the right at took two more pictures:

22 - RF foul standing area.jpgTo the right, my dad in our seats up above the cardinals bullpen.  To the left, I backed up a bit and got a shot showing a little more of the standing room area down the RF line.

And when we were over there, we ran into a local celebrity, Rosie Red…

23 - Mr and Mrs Redlegs.jpg…I tried to also find Mr. Redlegs for a photo-op, but he was nowhere to be found.  The pictures to him above to the left are from earlier in the game.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals brought in Chris Perez.  He gave up one hit, but struck out two to secure the win for the Cards and the save for himself.

After the game, they shooed us out of the OF seats.  He relocated into the infield seats, where I took a couple more random stadium shots…

24 - views from infield.jpg…we got a group shot of the roadtrippers…

25 - 3 Cooks at Great American Ball Park.jpg…and then we settled into the seats for Tim’s first firework show of his life…

26 - tims first fireworks.jpg…it was an amazing firework show.  And an outstanding first day of our first roadtrip.

Tim would fall asleep on my shoulders as we walked back to our hotel.

Mariners Dominate In The Bronx (9/3/07)

On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx.  We went with my friend Marc from college.  Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC.  This was the first time I’d seen him since college.  And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).

We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007.  The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History

TJCsDinos.jpg…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones.  Trust me.  He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum.  So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.

We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty… 

1 - baseball in the park.jpgThere were thousands of people in the park and every other field was packed.

Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.

Now, I’m a good baseball fan.  So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx.  Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
2 - its a little unsettling in this place.jpgI assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about.  The Mariners would surely destroy the home team.  The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens.  I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.

So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:

Still, he had questions for me…

4 - all these people over here really like the yankees too.jpg“You mean, none of these people like the Mariners?  All of these people are Y******* fans?”  (sorry for the censoring, Tim isn’t allowed to curse)

“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”

By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm.  He’s a good Mariners fan.

Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game.  In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.

The game started like so many Mariners games do:  Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field.  So things were already off to a good start.  Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date.  But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first. 

The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game.  King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.

But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second.  Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF.  Ben Broussard walked.  And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B.  Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul!  And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.

Tim was happy about this turn of events:

5 - good view up here.jpgBy the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us).  You don’t see that in a modern stadium!  Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970’s re-model job.

The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act.  They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.

Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF.  Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row!  Hooray for Ichiro!!!  And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.

Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.

In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.

By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:

6 - hahahahahaaaagreat.jpgAt some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly.  In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief.  A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.

Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game.  I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer.  After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth.  (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.”  That gave me a chuckle.)

Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins.  All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins.  What do you think, is that a record?  I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.

But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins.  Tim was all like…

7 - this is an awesome game.jpg“Dude, our Mariners are seriously awesome!”

The scoreboard showed the happy totals:

8 - happy totals mariners win.jpgAfter the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours).  But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:

9 - old bronx stadium semi-panaramic view.jpg

Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career.  But more importantly:

MARINERS WIN!!!!

“The Yankees Are Bossy” (9-19-09)

My mom, Colleen, Tim and I were in the car driving to Safeco Field to see the Mariners take on the Yankees when Tim turned to me and proclaimed:

“Dad, the Yankees are bossy.”

Indeed.

Well, actually…in the three games Tim has seen the Yankees play in his life, the Yankees haven’t been very bossy.  We’ve seen the Mariners beat the Yankees twice and the Orioles just a couple weeks ago beat the Yanks too.  So, really, the Yankees have been pretty accomodating in the games we’ve seen them play.

We were hoping they would be similarly accomodating at this game.

We had four excellent seats in section 151 (left field).  But, I also had my best buddy Paul’s two tickets in section 123 (just a couple rows back from the Mariners’ dugout).  Paul was at a family get-together and was hoping to meet up with us later in the game.  He never made it.

We arrived just before game time.  After watching the Yankees bat in the top of the first, Tim and I grabbed an ice cream helmet (mint chocoloate chip and chocolate fudge chip) and headed over to Paul’s seats in time to watch Ichiro lead off the bottom of the first… 

1 - ichiro.jpg…he would draw a walk.

 Tim was very protective of his ice cream:

2 - dont look at my ice cream.jpgThis is his, “I know you’re looking at my ice cream, don’t even think about, I’m not sharing” look.  And, true to his look, he did not share.

Two more notes about that picture.  First, I don’t like it when teams leave a big huge bar code on the side of the ice cream helmets.  We haven’t received many bar-coded helmets.  Mostly in Philadelphia.  Before this week, we’d never received a bar-coded helmet at Safeco Field.  And I hope we never do again.

Second, that guy in the white hat sitting behind Tim was pretty hilarious.  He and this buddies were all decked out in Washington Husky gear.  Just a couple hours prior, the Huskies had taken down my dad’s alma mater, the No. 3 ranked USC Trojans.  (FYI, in college football, I root for my Temple Owls (GO OWLS!) and then the entire Pac-10.  In conference play, I root for the UW, followed by WSU (my brother’s alma mater), followed by USC (dad), followed by whichever team is located closest to Seattle.  But in the grand scheme of things, the Mariners are the only team I truly care about in any sport).

Anyway, as I was saying, that guy was pretty funny.  He kept yelling at all of the Yankees (particularly C.C. Sabbathia) and saying he was going to buy them dinner at various fast food restaurants if they continued to strike out (Yankees batters) or give up hits (Sabbathia).  He was going to take them to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Time, Papa Murphy’s, Red Lobster, etc., etc.

Enough about that guy, here is the view from Paul’s amazingly awesome seats:

3 - safeco pauls seats panaramic.jpgPaul’s family has split season tickets with another guy (Louie) who has had the tickets since 1977 (the M’s first season, and the year Paul was born).  In the Kingdome, Paul’s seats were even closer (third row, I believe) but they crammed a few extra super-expensive rows in front of his seats at Safeco Field.  The tickets are row 14, but I think they are only about 5-8 rows back from the dugout.

All of my action shots were coming out blurry at this game, but I got some good “batting stance” shots.  Here is Jose Lopez: 

4 - jose lopez.jpgI like Jose.  He’s good.

And here is Adrian Beltre… 

5 - beltre.jpg…he hit a double on this pitch, but my swinging shot and rounding first shot are both horribly blurry.

Hey, guess who stopped by our section?  It was the Beer Poet: 

6 - beer poet.jpgI can’t recall any of his poems, but essentially he says a lot of stuff like this:

“An evening at the ballpark, such a special treat.  Nothing makes it better than a cold beer while you sit in your seat.”

His actual poems are moderately better than that, but you got the gist of it.

Young gun Doug Fister was on the mound…

7 - fister.jpg…but unforunately he was shooting blanks on this night.

In the second inning, someone or other bunted the ball off of Kenji Johjima…

8 - johjima hit by bunt.jpg…it was an odd play, and Kenji was down for a few minutes.

During the top of the third, we headed out to CF to the play area, and I took this panaramic view as we passed behind the RF foul pole:

9 - safeco RF concourse panaramic.jpgHey, check out who was out at the play area:

10 - with colleen in playarea.jpgTim only played a little bit before we headed back to section 151 to meet up with my mom.  Here was my view from section 151, row 34, seat 1:

11 - safeco section 151 panaramic.jpgRow 34 is only about 5 rows back from the LF wall, directly down the line behind the hand-operated scoreboard.

We got two big batches of Jim’s garlic fries…

12 - Jim's Garlic Fries.jpg…and Tim ate a bunch of them before he decided that garlic is “too spicy.”

It was about time for Tim to act silly in the seats: 

13 - all smiles.jpgAnd then it was time for some more “spicy” garlic fries… 

14 - with grandma and garlic fries.jpgThat is Tim’s official “garlic is too spicy” face.  As for me, I’m a huge fan of garlic.  And these fries we ridiculously (in a good way) garlicy.  This wasn’t garlic powder or garlic flavoring.  This was full on mashed up and diced garlic bits.  I think each of our orders of fries had about 5 entire garlic bulbs on ’em.  When all of the fries were gone, there was still an entire hand full of diced up garlic bits in each little cardboard tray.  I tried to eat all of the garlic in one of the trays, but I failed.  It would have made my head explode.  Too spicy.

Back to the game.  As I mentioned, Fister wasn’t on top of his game.  So, Don Wakamatsu pulled him before too long: 

15 - pulling fister and pauls seats.jpgSee the red outline in that picture?  Those are Paul’s seats as some non-ticketed dude prepares to take advantage of Paul’s absence.

Speaking of Paul, I bet you’re wondering what he looks like, right?  Well, you could look back at my entries from May when we went to a couple games together.  But it would be a whole lot easier if I just posted this:

 

griff-paul-kevin.JPGThat’s Paul in the middle, to the right is Paul’s brother Kevin, and to the left?  Well, that’s none other than future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey, Jr.

Once again, back to the game.  It was a cool but pleasant night at the ball park.  But late in the game, a few rain drops started to fall.  The powers that be decided it was time for some indoor baseball.  The following photos are very dark but they show the roof starting to creep across the field toward the 3B line:

16 - roof approaches.jpgAnd the next set of pictures show the roof approaching and passing the LF foul pole:

17 - indoor foul pole.jpgMark Teixeira was having good night at the plate, and the Mariners bats and pitchers weren’t doing too much.  So Tim had to get creative in the seats.  He decided to do some fake fishing.  Here he is walking up from row 33 to row 35 holding a fake fishing pole (note that for some reason he is bare footed…he likes to feel right at home at the park):

18 - fishing in section 151.jpgHe would stand on the stairs in row 35 and cast his fake fishing line down toward the OF wall.

Late in the game we ran around in the OF concourse a bit.  And that is where we were when the Yankees recorded the 27th out in the bottom of the ninth.  Aye, aye, aye…I was hoping Tim would never have to see the Yankees win a game in his life.  Oh, well, I need to come to grips with the fact that I can’t protect him for every bad thing that might happen in life.

We have one more Mariners game this season.  And with a win, the Mariners will finish the season with a winning record at games attended by me and Tim.  Let’s do it M’s!!!

One more comment on the Yankees.  This is the first time I’ve seen the Yankees play a game outside of Yankee Stadium since August 24, 1995.  I attended that game with Paul.  That game is widely recognized as the turning point in the Mariners season, after which they made a hard charge past the California Angels of Anaheim.  The Mariners were 11.5 games back at the time.  And in the 8th inning, the Mariners were losing 7-5.  In the 8th, Edgar Martinez hit a home run off of David Cone to make it 7-6 Yankees.

But the Mariners had been perenial losers.  The first two batters made quick outs in the bottom of the ninth.  Paul and I started to give up on the game.  In fact, we decided to leave and try to beat traffic.  But as we were walking out, Vince Coleman drew a walk from John Wetteland (now Mariners bullpen coach).  Paul and I started thinking about things.  Junior could get another at-bat!  We sprinted back to Paul’s seats (you know, the one’s I mentioned above, the ones 3 rows behind the 1B dugout).  As Joey Cora, battled Wetteland, Coleman stole 2B and 3B.  Cora then lined a single to LF to score Coleman and tie the game.

Up to the the plate sauntered Ken Griffey, Jr.  He would see only one pitch.  And we would see that pitch land in the upper deck in RF.  MARINERS WIN!!!

Twenty-five days later, the Mariners had erased the Angels’ 11.5 game lead.  Ultimately, the Mariners would beat the Angels in a one game playoff to claim their first ever A.L. West title.

So you ask what is the point of that long story?  Well, back in 1995, we watched the Mariners beat the Yankees in Seattle free of the presence of hordes of Yankees fans.  You see, the Yankees hadn’t been very good for a while.  They had not made the post-season since 1981.  And they didn’t have the massive traveling fan base that now accompanies them everywhere they go (and the hordes of bandwagon *fans*).  At least they didn’t have them in Seattle.

It was a much more pleasant way to watch a home Mariners game.  I live on the east coast and I see the Mariners on the road more than I see them at home.  So, I like my Mariners home games to feel like Mariners home games.  All this is to say that, this is likely my last Yankees game in Seattle.

By the way, don’t fear, the next day the Mariners would crush the Yankees to take the series 2-1.  Griffey would hit a bomb.

Anyway, on our walk to the car, I took a shot of the Seahawk’s stadium, Qwest Field:

19 - qwest field.jpgQwest Field sits on hallowed grounds — the site of the Kingdome.  I really wish Safeco Field could have been placed on the Kingdome’s site.  But it couldn’t happen.  The Mariners needed to play in the Kingdome until Safeco Field was ready to open in July 1999.  The Seahawks on the other hand, got an upgrade, they played at Husky Stadium while Qwest Field was being built.  Husky Stadium is probably better than Qwest Field.

One final note, the day after this game, we flew back into Philadelphia.  As we were driving out of the Philadelphia airport, Tim again told me that the Yankees are “bossy,” and he added that they “cheat.”  I told him that was not very nice of the Yankees.  But then, he told me that the Yankees called him on the telephone and apologized.  So, I guess that was considerate of the Yankees.

Season Fan Stats:

30 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)

12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

25 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
28 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Ultimate Goal: Accomplished (8-23-09)

Only once before have I broken the normal protocol and started an entry at the middle of a game, rather than at the beginning.  It was for our third game at Fenway back in July, and the purpose was to explain Ken Griffey Jr.’s fourth inning single off of the Green Monster.  At the time, it was the first and only hit Tim had ever seen Griffey collect.  It was a truly special moment.  You can read all about it here.

Once again, I am happy to brake with tradition.  Once again, I will start my story with zero outs in the top of the fourth inning.  Once again, the story will involve my favorite player of all time, Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr.

1 - griff in lineup.jpgGuess what, when we arrived at The Jake and checked the Mariners line-up, Griff was in there – scheduled to hit clean-up and DH.  That’s a good start.

Before the season started, I sat down at my computer, pulled up a bunch of MLB schedules and drafted the official “Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda.”  I then emailed the Agenda to a select group of “Important People” (family, friends, etc.) and invited people to join us on our ride through the 2009 season.  Along with the agenda, I included the following note detailing the goals I had in mind when drafting the agenda:

Important People,
 
    Below, please find the official Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda*.  The basic goals of the Agenda include:
 
1) See Griff hit a Homerun as a Mariner (most important goal);
2) Complete Tim’s “Seen all MLB Teams” Goal (left to see: A’s, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Red Sox, Rays, Dodgers, Padres, Astros, and Braves);
3) Continue new Baseball Roadtrip tradition;
4) Visit 10+ stadiums, including HHH Metrodome (final season), Nationals Park (2d season), Yankee Stadium (first season) and Citi Field (first season);
5) Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition;
6) Get Gill to his first MLB and Mariners Game;
7) Get Poppy out to the ball field at least twice; and
8) Have fun and make memories.

At the beginning of the day, with 26 games under our collective belt on the season, Tim and I had covered most of the goals:  “All 30 Teams” – check; Baseball Roadtrip – check; 10+ stadiums (including HHH Metrodome, Nationals Park, New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field) – check; Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition – check (we’ll be at Yankee Stadium on 9/12/09 for the third anniversary of Tim’s first game); and Have Fun and Make Memories – check.

Due to a chain of events including a miscommunication, a late invite to the Outer Banks and a Citizens Bank Park sell out, goals 6-7 had to be re-scheduled a couple times and, ultimately, suspended until next season.

But goal number one was left incomplete.  In what might have otherwise gone down as a perfect season of baseball fandom, the most important task was left undone.  The mere possibility of it was the entire reason for this trip.  To see my boyhood (and, heck, my adulthood) baseball hero blast a homerun and share the moment with my son was all I wanted out of this season.

Enter, Fausto Carmona and the top of the fourth inning.  Tim and I were out on the bridge that connects The Jake to a parking lot behind the LF bleachers.  He’d been a little grumpy because he hadn’t had a nap, plus I think he was a little bit hungry.  Colleen went down to Heritage Park and was in line to buy some pizza.  I was holding Tim in my arms and this was our view:

2 - jake griff HR panaramic.jpgCarmona started Griff off Ball 1, Ball 2.  Then he reached back and hurled a 93-mph 4-seem fast ball that caught wwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too much of the plate…
3 - griff 624 gameday.jpg…and this happened (picts courtesy of MLB.com screen shots)…

griff 624b.jpg
5 - griff 624d.jpg
6 - griff624a.jpgRight off the bat, it looked like a home run.  However, Grady Sizemore was going back on it like he thought he might have a play on it.   Worse yet, the roof of the batter’s eye bar was in my way.  I could tell it would land out of view on the other side of the roof.  So, I ran toward RF down the bridge until the roof was no longer in play.  I saw Sizemore run out of room and the ball bounced sideways off something in the CF seats, took one big hop and was gloved by a lucky fan.  Here was the estimated flight path of the ball (as estimated unscientifically by me):

7 - griff bomb path.jpg…the guy cirlced on the right is the lucky guy who took home No. 624 on Griff’s career.

Due to the odd angle looking down from the bridge, I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a home run until the second it bounced in the seats.  But the second it bounced, I jumped in the air with Tim still in arms and gave a little shout:  “YESSSSS!!!”

I immediately began fidgeting with my pocket to try to get my camera out, but I had a wardrobe malfunction and couldn’t get it out of my pocket until right before Griff crossed the plate.  This is the only shot I got of our magical moment in Cleveland:

8 - griff about to score on HR624.jpgWhen we arrived home late that night, I watched the video highlight of Griffey’s home run on MLB.com, and I was excited to see that (although you cannot make us out) you can see me and Tim (the blue (my jersey) and white (the front of my hat) blob) moving across the bridge during the highlight of Griff’s bomb.  Here is a screen shot that shows Griff’s HR ball in the air and Tim and me on the bridge:

9 - KGJ HR 624.jpgAnd there you have it:  our number one goal of the season completed!  Never did I imagine 20 years ago, as an eighth grader going to games with my folks and marvelling at Griffey hitting homeruns in the Kingdome, that some day I would be in Cleveland, Ohio and witness the Greatest Mariner of All-Time hit a home run for the M’s while spending an afternoon at the ball park with my son.  It was truly incredible.

And, as my mom said to my dad while watching the game on TV some 2,500+ miles away, “that home run just made Todd’s whole trip.”  It did.  In fact, it made my whole season.

Now…I hope to get a chance to do it again!!

Okay, now that we have the most important part of the game covered, why don’t we go back and start from the beginning.  It was kids’ day at the park.  Outside the LF entrance, they had all sorts of games and events for kids.  Like these little peddle cars that Tim drove around a little coned track:

10 - tims hotrod.jpg

After Tim drove this car, Colleen and Tim played around some more while I went into the Jake and watched the last few minutes of Mariners BP.  I hadn’t gotten much in terms of stadium pictures the day before, so I needed to tour around a bit.

I headed to home plate where I got this panaramic view:

11 - jake plate field panaramic.jpgI headed down to the front row and tried to walk down the 1B line in that big red front aisle, but I got booted out.  Apparently, that aisle is only for really special people.  Since it was such an important aisle, I took a picture of it…

12 - red carpet.jpg…the guy standing at the end of the red aisle is the guy who booted me out of the aisle.

Two seconds later, Colleen called me and I headed back over to LF and met up with her and Tim.

We had excellent seats in the second deck just above the Mariners bullpen.  So we headed over there to check things out.

Colleen sat in our seats while Tim and I hung out in the front row where this was our view…

13 - jake rf bullpen middle panaramic.jpg…as we watched Felix Hernandez warm up:

14 - felix warms.jpgAfter playing catch in the OF, Felix went into the bullpen and pitched off of the mound to M’s back-up catcher Rob Johnson.  (I’ll still call Kenji Johjima our starter).  It was pretty funny watching Felix warm up.  We actually couldn’t see Felix because the mounds are under the second deck.  So we could just see the ball fly into view and into Johnson’s glove.

All of a sudden Tim started yelling down to Johnson:  “Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!  Can you throw me a ball sneakers!   Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!”

I asked Tim why he was calling Johnson sneakers and explained his name was Rob Johnson.  Tim responded, “That’s sneakers.  Sneakers is my friend.”

I asked him why he called him sneakers.  “He’s wearing sneakers.”  Of course!

A few minutes later, the Mariners relievers marched out to take their spot in the bullpen:

15 - relievers.jpgAbove to the right is the aftermath of a hilarious scene that I missed photographing.  (I was wearing a new pair of shorts and I could never seem to get my camera out of the cargo pockets in time!).  Mariners closer David Aardsma is standing at the bottom.  Two seconds before this shot, he just finished going down that line of relievers having each of them smell the inside of his hat.  Each reliever buried his face in Aardsma’s cap and then they would chat about how it smelled.  It was pretty hilarious — much more hilarious than this picture of the aftermath of smellfest.

Soon, the game started.  Just then, Tim spotted the kids’ funland that was situated directly behind our section (section 316).  Here is a photo:

15a - step 2 kids funland.jpgAs MLB stadium play areas go, this one is pretty weak.  If you have young kids, you’ll notice that everything in here is something you probably have in your playroom or back yard, or maybe your friends’ have it in their playroom or back yard.  Nothing special here.  Step 2, the manufacturer of all this stuff, is headquartered just outside of Cleveland.  I guess that is why they have an all-Step 2 play area.  Whether it was comparatively weak or not, Tim still loved it in there.  He never wanted to leave he was having so much fun.  Therefore, Colleen hung out with him and I watched the Mariners bat from the standing room counter behind our section.  It looked like this:

16 - jake rf foul middle panaramic.jpg…and then I went on a little stadium tour.  I started by climbing to the top of the upper deck in RCF:

17 - jake RF upper panaramic.jpgNext, I headed across the rows to the RF foul corner:

18 - jake RF foul upper panaramic.jpg.

Here are a couple more picts showing the empty upper deck concourse in RF and an incredibly steep look down to the RF foul pole:

19 - up high in cleveland.jpgThe view from the top behind home plate:

20 - jake plate upper panaramic.jpgThen, an Indian hit a liner to CF and Franklin Gutierrez came running in to make the play…

21 - franklin grab in CF.jpgAnd, I got some shots of the bullpens:

22 - bullpens grass turf.jpgThis is interesting.  Exactly like the bullpens at Nationals Part, the bullpen in the RF corner (to the right) is field turf, but the bullpen in CF (to the left) is real grass.  Odd, huh?  In D.C., I thought it was because there was an entrance from the employee-only (worker) level concourse where they could bring tractors, etc., through the bullpen to the field.  I figured they put in turf so the heavy equipment passing through the bullpen wouldn’t get damaged.  But I didn’t notice a similar tractor entrance in Cleveland.  I’m not sure why one bullpen is grass and the other is turf.

Here is a view into the Mariners dugout — where Griffey (pre-home run) can be seen chatting up some of his teammates):

23 - Mariners dugout.jpgHe came to the plate while I was passing by, so I took this picture of Tim’s friend “sneakers”:

24 - sneakers.jpgAfter sneakers, I took a couple shots of Ichiro that I combined to make this:

25 - ichiromotion hit 184.jpgThat swing resulted in a single up the middle for Ichi’s 184th hit of the season.

I headed up to the upper corner in LF where I got this view:

26 - jake LF foul upper panaramic.jpgAfter the tour, I met up with Colleen and Tim.  Tim still didn’t want to leave the play area.  But we got him out of there in time to witness Griff’s bomb, as described above.

So, remember I mentioned Colleen was in line for pizza when Griff hit his home run?  Well, she wasn’t able to get any.  She is a vegatarian and when she got to the front of the line, they had just given away the last slice of cheese pizza.  All that was left was pepperoni.  So she came back and met up with us again.

After a little bit, we went back and I stood in the incredibly short but frustratingly slow pizza line.  While in line, I took this picture of King Felix:

27 - felix from pizza line.jpg.

There were literally only 2 people in front of me in line for pizza.  But before I made my way to the front of the line, Felix retired the side, the teams switched positions, and Griff came to bat.  I was forced to abandon my spot in line to go watch Griff’s at bat, and take this picture:

28 - griff takes ball.jpgUnfortunately, the home run was Griff’s only hit on the day, so this at bat didn’t end well.

After Tim got some pizza in him (yes, I eventually did make it through the pizza line), Tim forgot about the play area and we relocated to the LF bleachers so he wouldn’t see the playarea again.

Here is Tim out in the bleachers:

29 - tim the bleacher boy.jpgHere was our view from the bleachers:

30 - jake LF HR bleachers panaramic.jpgTim and I had fun eating sunflower seeds out in the bleachers, and Tim had a blast spitting seeds:

31 - cleveland seeds.jpgUnfortunately, it wasn’t the Mariners day.  We wouldn’t push any more runs across the plate after Griff’s home run.  Meanwhile, Felix had an off-day.  The Mariners lost 6-1.

It was Kids Run The Bases day, but we had a six hour drive following the game, and Tim really needed a nap in the car so we headed out.

Despite two terrible losses, it was great to see our Mariners once again this season, and it was OUTSTANDING to see Griff hit his 624th home run of his career.

Season Fan Stats:

27 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)

12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

 

Griffey & Sensation: Two Kids Combine To Make Sweet Music

It’s the All-Star break…no Mariners games to watch.  What better time to share a non-game-based Mariners story?

Raise your hand if you know that Ken Griffey, Jr. has his own rap song?   (Not just a rap song about him, but a song in which HE IS THE RAPPER – or one of them, at least).  This is my story about Ken Griffey, Jr. , the recording artist, and his buddy, Kid Sensation.

[For those with short attention spans, you can check out and buy the three Griffey-based songs here , here, and here (or on iTunes)…and an Ichiro! song here.  For the rest of you, please come on a ride with me back to the 1990s.]



king2.jpgMy story starts where so many of my best stories begin:  The King County Domed Stadium a/k/a the “Kingdome.”

I loved the Kingdome.  Safeco Field is outstanding, but the Kingdome will always feel like my baseball home.  When they imploded the Dome in 2000, I calculated that I had spent 78 entire days of my life at the Kingdome – 97% or more of that time was at Mariners games.

One thing I loved about the Kingdome was it was sparsely populated.  Often times 15,000-20,000 people were crammed into 55,000 seats.  There was a ton of room to move around and get to know the place.  And I did.   I knew the place backwards and forwards.

In 1991, the Kingdome became even more exciting for me.  For a 2-3 year span, my family’s partial season ticket plan landed in an interesting spot – about 3 feet from Ken Griffey, Jr.’s  good friend and Seattle Rap Legend, Kid Sensation (a/k/a Xola Malik – pronounced “Ko-Lah”).


TheKids.jpgWhen I was growing up in the 80s, we would go to 10-20 Mariners games each season.  In 1991, my parents decided to get the 20-game plan.  We were in the second row behind the visitors’ bullpen (3B line) in the first four seats on the right side of the aisle.  Across the aisle in the front row, there were two guys in their early-20s who always seemed to be having a great time.  One of them immediately seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place him at first.

Right away, we noticed these guys were interacting with Griffey from the stands.  Griff would give them a nod or a point of the glove.  Then, we saw the “familiar looking guy” exiting the Dome with Griff through the players’ parking lot.  “Who is this guy?”


rollin.jpgBefore long, I made the connection.  I had Kid Sensation and Sir Mix-A-Lot in heavy rotation.  I soon recognized my Kingdome section-mate on the cover of Kid Sensation’s debut album “Rollin’ With Number One.”  (By the way, my favorite K-Sen song at the time was “SeaTown Ballers,” check it out here).

I wasn’t a shy kid.  So I was quick to introduce myself.  Xola was one cool dude.  Xola and his buddy, who I will call “C” and is Griff’s friend from Cincinnati, were always willing to chat with me and my buddies.  When I didn’t have my 20-game plan tickets, Xola and C would let me and my buddies sit in their extra seats (they had what seemed to be about six seats that were often times filled with their friends, including Craig “Younger Brother” Griffey and D.J. Train (see M.C. Ren and N.W.A.))

I seemed to be the only person in the Dome that figured out that we were sitting next to Kid Sensation.  And for a teenage guy who was already listening to Kid Sensation’s music it was extremely cool.


power.jpgIn 1992, Xola came out with his sophomore album, The Power of Rhyme.  I bought it immediately and was psyched to find a track, “The Way I Swing,” featuring the vocal-stylings of the Mariners All-Star Center Fielder.  “Swing” is the first episode of a trilogy of Griffey-based songs released by Xola between 1992-2009.  All three are “must have” tracks for any fan of Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Seattle Mariners.

“The Way I Swing” begins with Dave Neihaus’s classic call of Griffey’s home run in his first career at bat in the Kingdome.   From there, the two friends banter back-and-forth about their mad skills in the batters box and recording studio.  (e.g., “One likes to Bat, the other likes to Battle, one from Cincinnati, and the other’s from Seattle, Griffey’s batting average is three-oh-oh and the Kid is undefeated with a dozen K.O.’s”).

Considering that Griffey undeniably is a first ballot Hall of Famer (he should be a unanimous selection) and one of the best baseball players of all time, it is utterly amazing to me that “The Way I Swing” is not universally known by all baseball fans. 

So check it out here and download it here – and preview the 2009 remix here and download it here.

The second installment in the Griffey-trilogy is 2000’s “Do Your Thing.”  “Thing” doesn’t feature Griffey on the microphone, but it offers an unique behind-the-scenes look at Ken Griffey, Jr. “the friend.”  Xola pays tribute to Griff’s accomplishments as a Mariner, reminisces about the good times the two shared during Griff’s first stint in Seattle, and offers Griff encouragement and love as he joins the Cincinnati Reds.  The song can break your heart as a Mariners fan, but offers a moving glimpse into Griff’s personal life and his decision to return home to Cincy.

You can preview “Do Your Thing” here and download it here.

Finally, with Griffey’s resigning with the Mariners in 2009, Xola released the celebratory track “Back Home.”  The song is pure joy.  It begins with a radio host announcing to his Seattle listeners that Griffey has resigned with the Mariners, it includes excerpts from Griffey’s re-introductory press conference, and it perfectly captures the sheer joy and elation that die-hard Mariners fans felt the day Griffey decided to come “Back Home.”

You can preview “Back Home” here and download it here.

In 2009, Xola has, for the most part, retired the Kid Sensation moniker.  He is preparing to release a new album simply as Xola Malik (lets face it, neither Xola nor Griff is a “kid” anymore).  Meanwhile, he is a successful businessman (see http://www.henchhench.com),  a dedicated philantrophist (see http://www.liveunited.org/music), and a creative producer/performer and actor.

Sitting next to Xola back in the Kingdome was a thrill.  Although I didn’t meet Griff while sitting with Xola, I got a peak into his circle of friends and a what it must have been like to hang out with him back in his 20s.  Plus, Xola and C were just fun to be around.  I recall once that Xola ordered a bag of peanuts from Seattle’s famed peanut vendor Rick Kaminski…


king1.jpg…and then sent Rick all the way up to the cross aisle and down toward the next section to throw the peanuts.  The Peanut Man fired the peanuts behind his back a good 100+ feet over 25 rows of people…


king5.jpgThe Peanut Man threw the peanuts from the top arrow to Xola standing at the point of the bottom arrow,
and nailed Xola in the hands.  Sadly, Xola does not quite have the glove Griff has and the peanuts escaped his grasp and landed in the bullpen.  (That’s alright though, Griff doesn’t quite have the same skills in the booth as Xola, so we’ll call it a draw).

Well, that’s my story of Griffey the recording artist and his friend Kid Sensation.  I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you’ll check out and enjoy these three great Griffey-based songs. 

Tim and I will be checking out our first second-half game action this weekend in D.C…hopefully they actually play a game this time.