Today was a wonderful day. A beautiful, sunny day that everyone who loves baseball has known was coming for two decades. Far to the northeast of Seattle, on a breezy July day, the Seattle Mariners worked together to tell two stories. Neither were new to most of us, but each was told at almost the exact pace we could hope for.
One began with family. The father who was already acclaimed and well-known, yet whose shadow he had eclipsed. The mother, whose wisdom and determination had spurred him to reach greater heights when he could have easily rested on his natural gifts. The brother who challenged him, his wife who loved and equaled him, and the children who refreshed his joy as his own age grew.
We've heard this all before perhaps dozens of times at least, but that doesn't matter. The Griffeys and their story is one of our favorite family legends, and when Grandpa starts winding it up, no matter how much we roll our eyes we end up starry-eyed at his feet, hanging on every word. That story reminds us why we watch and care and gnash our teeth after every win and loss and bone-headed trade or shrewd pickup.
Across Lake Ontario, another family tale was being told. A story of decent pitching and offensive ineptitude and overly ambitious base-running. A short, sad story that was benevolent in its brevity like a band-aid being ripped off a hairy leg. With the series already in hand, the M's had a chance to further push their hand coming out of the All-Star Break. Wade Miley never looked dominant, but his competency should have been more than enough to keep the Mariners in the game. Nori Aoki did an Adrian Beltre impression in the least optimal fashion.
The Mariners were 0-4 with RISP, and like a balloon from our careless, childlike fingertips though, the game sped faster and faster out of reach, until it was just a speck in the clear blue sky.
We were sad, sure, but mom did tell us to be careful and now she's just looking at us with a mixture of pity and "I told you so" while we sit grumpily in the backseat. She says we're going to Grandpa's house which isn't that exciting, but at least he always has ice cream, even if it's always got walnuts and figs in it.
Griffey waxed on at a measured pace, pausing repeatedly to ensure his delivery was precise. He spoke of teammates (Edgar!) and of swings and catches and the uncertainty of growing up. The Kid, who now has three of his own, looked older, a bit more reserved, but not diminished in his ability to captivate those watching. He addressed his coaches we all knew and those who only he might remember, and drifted from scales grand to granular.
The speech ended as we all hoped it would, and the story ends as we always know it does, but as Griffey put his hat on backwards one final time, we let out a small gasp, unbidden. "He made it! We made it."
Of course he did. We knew the whole time he would, but as mom looks at her watch and realizes how long you've been there already, we can't help but wish we could stay and listen just a little bit longer.