Ken Griffey, Jr. should be the greatest baseball player of all time. But I’ll get to that later.
Last week, word got out that the 2013 Baseball Hall Of Fame class would look a lot like the list of Hot Chicks Who Want To Bang David D. 2002 Version. The fact that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were eligible for HOF nods but not voted in has reignited the debate about steroids in baseball. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, we can all agree that most of the stats in the 90s are inflated and will probably never be matched again because everyone back then was on the “juice.”
Everyone but Ken Griffey, Jr. Of course I can’t be sure or make any guarantees, but Griffey is one of the only beacons of hope for clean baseball players in the ’90s. And he was f*cking awesome. The backwards hat, the swag, the way he dropped the bat after a home run. Everything about him was cool as he (and others like Kenny Lofton) ushered in a new type of baseball player who could compete with the utter coolness of his NBA counterparts. Also, he was a damn good baseball player.
Let’s not forget that during the asterisked 1998 season, Griffey was the third wheel in the race as he clocked in 56 home runs. The reason McGuire and Sosa were able to edge him out was the regenerative qualities of PEDs that let them play the whole season at full-steam while wear-and-tear eventually caused Griffey to taper off.
He was also destined to be the guy to break Hank Aaron’s home run record before his career was torpedoed by injury. That’s where PEDs come in. Griffey missed the 1995 season because of injury and spent the last nine years of his career battling injury after injury, bringing his quest for records to a halt. But what if Griffey had access to PEDs if only for their ability to bring players back from injury and extend careers? The MLB didn’t really start cracking down until around 2003 or so, right in the middle of Jr.’s health break down. While the pro- or anti-PED sentiment is still in the air, I can’t help but think I would have enjoyed Griffey’s career a bit more if he had taken a few PEDs. Still, in light of all of his peers falling by the baseball morality wayside, Griffey should stand as the greatest baseball player of the era.
Look at his stats despite his injuries: sixth all time in home runs, 10 gold gloves, MVP, 13th in total bases, sixth on extra base hits and some of the dopest shoes Nike’s ever made.
PEDs or no, Ken Griffey, Jr. deserves every accolade you can imagine. And then some.