Posted on: June 1, 2008 4:55 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2008 5:03 pm

No 600 for Griffey, but at least he got 2,610

I came to Cincinnati hoping to see Ken Griffey Jr. make history, and sure enough he did. Yeah, sure did.

With  a single and a double (but no home runs) Sunday, Griffey tied Omar Vizquel for 68th place on baseball's all-time hits list, with 2,610. Bet you didn't know that before Sunday, Vizquel had more career hits than Griffey. Vizquel might be ahead again as you read this, because as I write it he's playing for San Francisco against San Diego.

The Vizquel/Griffey stat comes courtesy of Hal McCoy, the Hall of Fame Reds beat man for the Dayton Daily News. But it's more than just a curiosity, because it should remind you exactly how many at-bats Griffey lost to injury. Griffey and Vizquel debuted in the major leagues on the very same day, April 3, 1989, when they were both playing for Seattle. Entering play Sunday, Vizquel had 513 more career at-bats -- nearly one full season more than Griffey.

As Braves manager Bobby Cox said Sunday: "I'd have thought at this time in his career, (Griffey) would be going for 700 (home runs). If he hadn't had the injuries, he might have passed up (Barry) Bonds."

Griffey can actually catch Bonds this week -- in career singles. His one Sunday was his 1,490th. Bonds has 1,495.

Posted on: May 31, 2008 8:25 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2008 8:27 pm

"This hype is real"

OK, I give up. Give Jay Bruce all the attention you want. Give him all the love you want.

Forget about Ken Griffey Jr. and 600 home runs if you have to. The Boy Wonder is here in Cincinnati, and it's all about him.

And rightfully so.

Seriously, how many big-time prospects have had first weeks like Jay Bruce just had with the Reds? He's 11-for-19, he scored the winning run in extra innings on Friday night and he hit a walkoff home run today in an 8-7 win over the Braves.

Griffey walked out of the Reds clubhouse without talking about his 599th, but who cares? Jay Bruce is here, and if anything he's been better than advertised.

"A lot of times, the hype is overhyped," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "This hype is real."

It's easy to get caught up in Bruce-mania, in part because the 21-year-old outfielder (baseball's minor-league player of the year in 2007) doesn't seem to ever get caught up in it himself. Even riding the high of a walkoff, he deferred to Griffey.

"He probably would have hit 600 if I didn't hit mine," said Bruce, whose walkoff homer left Griffey smiling in the on-deck circle. "You can't steal the show from him. He is the show."

I'll still maintain that Griffey's pursuit of 600 home runs should be getting more attention than it has. And yes, Griffey's 599th has a lot more historical significance than Jay Bruce's first.

But anyone who has been anywhere near Cincinnati this week has to have been affected by Bruce-mania. And I'll admit, it's gotten to me, too.

"If he's living a dream, I'd like to get in that dream," Baker said.

Wouldn't we all?

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 31, 2008 3:39 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2008 7:25 pm

Cox looks like he could go on forever

When the Braves announced Bobby Cox's contract extension last week, they said that Cox had agreed to manage the team through 2009. But don't bet on Cox retiring after just one more season.

"That retirement, I don't know," Cox said this weekend in Cincinnati. "I've talked to a bunch of guys that retire and play golf. Some of them like it. But you can travel for one year, then you can golf for 16 months, then what do you do? I think of that."

Cox turned 67 two weeks ago, so the retirement talk is natural. Besides, he had said in spring training 2007 that he thought he'd only go through this year.

But a year later he shows no signs of slowing down. Even when the Braves lose a few tough games, as they have this week, he seems as happy to be at the ballpark as ever.

"I love it," he said. "It's a lot of fun. You take the days as they come. With baseball, it's true, that there's always tomorrow."

A few more tomorrows for Cox, it seems. And the Braves players and coaches couldn't be happier.

As for big-league umpires, well, they'll just have to put up with Cox for a while longer. Sure enough, he got ejected from Saturday's game, after the Reds tied the game on a close play in the ninth. It was the third time Cox has been tossed this season, and the 138th of his career -- a career that will go on for a while longer.


Category: MLB
Tags: Braves, Cox
Posted on: May 29, 2008 7:37 pm

Sadly, Percival's injury is no big surprise

Shockingly, Tampa Bay owns the best record in baseball today (tied with the Chicago Cubs). Let's see where the Rays are in two weeks, now that closer Troy Percival has gone to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.

And let's see how long Percival can stay healthy when he does return.

"I was down there a couple of weeks ago, and everyone was saying it was just a matter of time (before he got hurt)," one American League scout said this week. "People were betting he wouldn't last half a season."

It's amazing that Percival is still pitching at all. His career was supposed to be over in 2005, when the muscle in his right forearm tore away from the bone. Anyone who saw his aborted comeback attempt with the Tigers in spring training 2006 would have believed he was done.

For now, it's only his hamstring that's hurting, and the Rays are saying that the injury is "not anything significant." Not surprisingly, Percival didn't want to go on the DL.

He wants to pitch. We know that. We also know that he knows how to win, and that he's a big part of what the Rays have done so far. Now they'll have to go on without him, for two weeks.

For two weeks this time, that is.

Category: MLB
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