Every year when the Brewers schedule comes out I always look to see when the Cincinnati Reds come to town. I can almost be guaranteed to see exciting ball games but more importantly I get a chance to see one of the greatest players of all-time: Ken Griffey Jr.
I know fan protocol says you cheer your heart out for your team and boo the opposition unmercifully. I've never been able to bring myself to do that with Junior. Of the current or future Hall of Famers I've had the honor of watching play; Junior is alone with my lack of boos. I'll clap politely when other players have been announced for the starting line-up and once the game starts, they are the enemy. Every time I've seen Griffey play I can't help but cheer each time he comes to bat or every time he makes a great play in the field. There's just something about "The Kid" that has always fascinated me.
In my mind, I compare Griffey a lot to Ted Williams. Griffey is obviously the far superior defensive player but both men had times in their career when the lost playing time for various reasons. Williams, of course, lost time to World War 2 and the Korean War and Griffey to several injuries. Both put up amazing, Hall of Fame numbers while playing but fans will forever speculate what might have been for both had they not had interruptions in their careers.
Without injuries, Griffey would likely be on the brink of breaking the all-time home run record...not the record Barry Bonds holds, but the record Hank Aaron set. As it is, Griffey is only six home runs shy of 600 for his magnificent career and I hope he can stick around long enough to give 700 a serious run.
Last night, I saw Griffey beat the shift the Brewers put on him by laying a bunt down the third base line for a hit. As the entire stadium booed this perceived 'cheap' hit, I could only laugh and clap at Griffey outsmarting the Brewers to get a base runner the Reds desperately needed. I hope for more of the same tonight. I'm hoping for another Brewers win, but deep down I will be cheering every time Griffey steps to the plate and hoping to witness home run number 595 and view a small part of a Hall of Fame career.
How do you, as fans, view not only Griffey but other HoF type players when you get to see them in person? Do you boo and only see them as the enemy or do you cheer for their accomplishments and the moment that you get to see someone special?