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Are we so jaded?Posted Monday, June 9, 2008, at 11:25 PM
Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 600th home run Monday night.
It's a milestone that's been approaching for a while, but you couldn't tell it to look at the coverage.
I remember the home run chases of Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, when ESPN would break in to whatever they were showing so we could all have a chance at seeing history.
No such coverage for Griffey. Now, I will grant that he was approaching neither the single season nor career home run record, but c'mon. This is 600 home runs. As late as 2002, only three players had ever done it.
Do the names Aaron, Ruth and Mays ring a bell? Add to that the other recent 600 hitters -- Bonds and Sosa -- and you have one of the most exclusive clubs in sports.
But there has been barely a second glance at Griffey's approaching the accomplishments. A few days ago, I was watching my favorite ESPN morning simulcast (as if there was more than one) and the hosts were lamenting the amount of attention that has been paid to Griffey's accomplishment. They then went into an even longer segment about the fact that Joba Chamberlain was about to make his first start for the Yankees.
Is it okay to lament the fact and immediately proceed to become a part of it yourself?
Here's what's tragic about the whole thing: the steroid era has downplayed the accomplishments of everyone who even played at the same time.
I will not believe in million years that Griffey was on the roids or HGH. He never got big (except to grow a bit of a gut as he got to his late 30s). He just kept the same power as long as he was healthy.
But he still exists to history in the same era as shady characters like Bonds, McGuire, Palmero and Giambi.
That is truly tragic.
All we have in Griffey is the fourth highest home run total that we can believe is truly legitimate.
But will history ever recognize it? Or will he be lumped in with all the cheaters?
I hope for the former.
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.