Reflecting on our weekend with Junior

First off, let me apologize for being so hit-and-miss with posts lately -- I really try to get at least one thing up each day, but when a blog is a one-man show, well, sometimes things like weddings, grading, the end of the school year, packing and moving get in the way of that man writing. Things should be a little clearer here the rest of the summer without having to do something quite so trivial as report to work.

But even as I watch this wild affair of a baseball game between the M's and the Red Sox, I'm reminded that I promised you some thoughts on the return of Junior.

I was on my way out to our fourth 1-year-old birthday party of the month of June on Sunday -- no, I don't know what was going on in September 2005 -- when my phone rang. My dad was on the other end.

"Are you watching the game?"

"I was, but I just left the house. I haven't turned the radio on yet. What's up? Did Junior hit another homer?"

And there was the rub. It wasn't so much that he had, indeed, hit his second homer of the game. It was more that as soon as my dad asked if I was watching the game, I just knew he was calling to tell me that Griffey had done something special yet again.

That's what it was like watching Junior all those years he was here in Seattle, and that's what I'll remember most about his time here. No matter what, you never wanted to leave your seat at a Mariners game because you never knew when Junior was going to do something special.

I remember sitting there as a kid with my bladder about to burst, waiting for that moment in the game when the M's were up to bat and Junior had no chance of coming to the plate so I could finally go to the bathroom. You didn't dare leave when the M's were on defense -- what if Griffey made one of those spectacular catches? No way was I going to miss that.

Leave a blowout early? Please.

And that's what this weekend was all about. It was to remember a time when the first bona fide superstar this town ever had captured our hearts. It was to remember when the Mariners could be exciting even when they were terrible, thanks to sheer magnitude of Junior's talent and charisma.

For just three days, all of that was back. We watched every at bat as if we might recapture just a little of that magic together. We cheered when he succeeded, a well-deserved response to the man who saved baseball in this city.

Much has been made of those cheers; those that objected to it because he plays for the other team are either short-sighted or ignorant, and I have patience for neither. Yes, this is a team in the throws of something resembling a pennant race, but no one is going to make me feel bad for finally getting a chance to properly honor a player who brought so much joy my life, whether he plays for the other team or not.

It wasn't about a win or a loss, especially on Friday night. I could care less that my team got blown out. All I could think about leading up to the game was what I felt like the day he was traded, watching his first news conference with Cincinnati, just hoping he'd say something to those of us in Seattle who stood by him for so long.

Then, I thought about what it was going to be like to finally get to replace that with a proper goodbye. It was everything I could have dreamed of, and more.

And that's what I'll remember now.

Would I love for him to come back, as he suggested he might? Sure I would. But I also know Junior to be a fickle, emotional guy who sometimes says things he doesn't mean. If my last memory is of him telling us how much he missed us, and of him waving to the crowd as he came off the field for the last time on Sunday, well, I'm perfectly OK with that.

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