I've had almost a full day to sift through the Ken Griffey tributes and they've all followed similar paths:
• A sweet-swinging slugger with skills so sweet they lessened the disappointment of him not staying on the Aaron and Mays-type pace he set in the '90s.
• A generation-defining icon for the under-30 set.
They're all good takes and you can't tell the story of Junior without weaving in all three themes. Griffey was a complicated player in a complicated time, but his pure talent made it easy to simplify him as a one-of-a-kind ballplayer.
And yet when I read all the career recaps, the regrets seem to be only limited to the array of injuries that defined his time in Cincinnati. There's hardly any mention that we never got to see him on the game's grandest stage — the World Series — and that he's right alongside Ernie Banks as the greatest players to never appear in the Fall Classic.
Maybe a lot of that has to do with the fact that we don't judge the careers of baseball players on championships won like we do other players — hi, Dan Marino and Patrick Ewing! — but I still find it a sad thing that Griffey's Baseball-Ref page doesn't have a single World Series at-bat.
That said, at least Griffey made a couple of appearances in the postseason (unlike Mr. Cub) and he can still point to one of the most iconic moments of the last 20 Octobers — his mad dash from first-to-home on Edgar Martinez's(notes) double to beat the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS.
There's no doubt that you'd place the run atop any list of great Griffey moments and our pal Dash Treyhorn does a great job of describing the scene here. There's a good chance you might even be able to tell me where you were when you watched that and the Mariners still treat it — for better or worse — as their franchise-defining moment. We'll never forget it.
The best part is that Griffey's run ended a series that saw him hit .391/.444/1.043 with five homers and seven RBI while scoring nine runs against the budding Yankees' dynasty. In that three-game comeback, we saw what was possible from him and who knows what would've happened if there hadn't been a falling out with the Mariners during his first go-round there.
Yet the reality is that Griffey only played in three more postseason series after that one, a total that includes a mediocre sunset appearance with the 2008 Chicago White Sox. A lot of people around baseball were hoping that he could hop aboard that South Side bandwagon and finally arrive on that grand stage, but the Tampa Bay Rays said it wasn't to be.
And that leaves us with that mad sprint around the Kingdome as Seattle — and the rest of the non-Yankee universe — lost their minds. It's a memorable moment that any Hall of Fame player would be happy to have on his resume.
But the singularity of the highlight also underscores the bit of what-could-have-been sadness that will always be a thread in the discussion of Griffey's career.