Of course this is old news now, but after weeks of speculation and conflicting reports, Ken Griffey Jr. has officially returned to the Mariners.
Last weekend, I caught up with life-long baseball fan Cohen Allen to get his reaction:
ME: "Hey Cohen, did you hear the news?"
COHEN: "What news? You're finally gonna change my diaper?"
ME: "No, your mom can do that. But the Mariners just signed Junior!"
COHEN: "Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH! Are you serious?!?"
ME: "Yeah! It's a one year, 2 million deal. The press conference is on in a few minutes!"
COHEN: "I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!"
A FEW MINUTES LATER, WATCHING THE PRESS CONFERENCE...
ME: "What's the matter, Co? I thought this would be a happy moment!"
COHEN: "Oh it is. It is. It's just...so emotional.... I'm getting a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves..."
After the presser was over, and he had a chance to collect himself, Cohen summed up his thoughts on the signing...
COHEN: "Strictly from a baseball sense, I know this isn't the greatest signing, and likely has minimal impact on the team. Griffey is nowhere near the player he was when he left the M's, and doesn't really have that much left to contribute. However, contingent upon the Mariners utilizing him properly, it's not a bad move either. He should be platooned against leftys, and should definitely stay out of the outfield, but he can still rake against rightys, and thus has value as a DH. From an emotional standpoint, it's a slam dunk for all involved. If there were ever a year to bring Griffey back, this was it. While they do have a long-shot at contention this year in a weakend AL West, realistically, this is a building year while they wait for some bloated contracts to come off the books. I'm looking at you, Washburn. Anyway, new General Manager Jack Zduriencik has had a tremendous off-season so far, and even if you view this signing as a concession to nostalgia, it will buy him immense amounts of goodwill from the local writers and casual fanbase - potentially giving him greater leeway to further improve the team in 2010. For me, personally, I'm afraid Junior transcends all reason and logic. And seeing #24 in a Mariners uni again for the first time...It might be the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me in my whole life. Well, you know, other than being born a few months ago. But you catch my drift."
Yes we do, Cohen. Yes we do. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Spring training is in full swing, the season starts in about a month, and the Mariners organization has done a complete 180... For the first time in years, there's reason to be excited about the future of baseball in Seattle.