As I may have mentioned before, I tend to always measure and lament my rapidly advancing age against the life progression of Ken Griffey Jr.
That sounds a bit weird and maybe pathetic, but I'm sure I'm not the only one to use the career span of a ballplayer as a benchmark. When I was 12, I used all of my earnings to try to pull his rookie from packs of Upper Deck. Now, as he nears the end of his career, I'm worried about things like 401Ks and losing all of my earnings to the state of the economy. The circle of life ain't what it's cracked up to be.
At any rate, to see Griffey named an American Public Diplomacy Envoy by Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday enhanced the contrast even more. Once derided by baseball's old guard for doing things like wearing his hat backward, blowing bubblegum bubbles and endorsing video games, The Kid outgrew all of that to become not only an elder statesman of the sport but of the entire country. (Again, people of my generation — we are getting old.)
As an unofficial ambassador, Rice said Griffey will travel overseas to "talk to young people and to spark their interest in America and in our culture." His first trip is scheduled for Panama in January, where he'll hopefully be able to meet my two favorite Panamaniacs while avoiding the trouble Cal Ripken just found in Nicaragua.
Continuing the discussion here, I'd like to throw out a question to my older readers. Who was the "Griffey" of past generations? Who was there not only for your grammar school graduation, but for your first car, your first beer, your first kid and beyond?