Confession of an occasional Yankees fan

Gordon "Dusty" Rhodes with Babe Ruth and wife Leah


 The Seattle Mariners are in New York resting up on a travel day before embarking on a three game series with the New York Yankees. Over the years I have developed a love-hate relationship with the Yankees. On the one hand I can recall the intense rivalry of the 95-01 era highlighted by the play-off victory in 95. I was so excited by that series that I met the Mariners at Boeing field at 5 am after they had just dropped the first two games in New York. There were only a handful of fans there at that time of the morning and yet after going to every game they played at the dome from mid-August on, I felt compelled to be there. Those were the glory years of Mariners Baseball and the upcoming series pales in comparison to those days of lore.

  There is another part of me that has always been in awe of this franchise and their 27 World Championships. My grandfather GordonDustyRhodes  pitched for the Yankees from 1929-32 before being traded to the Red Sox in midseason missing out on going to the series with them that year. Dusty pictured above with his wife Leah (my grandmother) and Babe Ruth, though highly touted coming up had pretty much a mediocre career in the big leagues see stats:  . I need to confess that in recent years I have sort of been having a long-distance affair with the Yankees, culminating in me actually rooting for them last year as they went on to win it all. I know some of you may be shocked but after so many years of disappointment with the Mariners I sort of went back to my roots, partially to honor my Grandfather and partially because the Yankees play the game  the way it should be played.

  The Yankees in almost every era with the exception of the 80’s and early 90’s have always been the team to beat. This year’s team represents perhaps the end of an era as Jeter, Posada, Riviera, Pettitte and A-Rod try to repeat and go all the way. Now to be clear nothing would make me happier than to see the Mariners play respectable ball and win this series, but on paper we just don’t measure-up to this franchise. They just have too much talent, history and poise on the field. Sure Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez are throwing the first two games, but unlike the Mariners the Yankees have great pitching and hitting.

    I was thinking today about all the various players and teams the Mariners have put on the field since the endless re-building period of the post Lou Piniella era. Unlike the Yankees we always seem to have 2-3 weak spots in our lineup that good teams like the Yankees don’t seem to have. The recent addition of Russell Branyon will help but we still are huge underdogs going into Yankee stadium tomorrow night. One of the perks of starting this expansion blog this year is getting to say what I really feel knowing that only a few hundred people may actually read any given post. For the most part I have tried to stay positive about the Mariners with the exception of a few jabs at upper-management and players and coaches that were deserving of a little heat. Trust me many of the other bloggers and journalists have been less civil towards the club. So now you all know that under the right set of circumstances I too am capable of cheating on my home team.

Ruth and Griffey two of the greatest retire on June 2nd

Ken Griffey Jr. and Babe Ruth were different men from different era’s but share a few things,one of which is the date they chose to retire : June 2nd. Babe Ruth considered to be the greatest player of all-time retired on June 2,1935 and Ken Griffey Jr. The “Yankee Killer” retired on June 2nd 2010, 75 years apart. Babe Ruth is credited with saving the game of baseball after the “Black Sox scandal” and Griffey is credited with saving baseball in Seattle. Both men had a presence at the plate and in the eyes of the nation that cannot be measured in statistics alone, though with 714 and 630 home runs respectively the numbers were awesome. I never got to see Babe Ruth play but my Grandfather Gordon Dusty Rhodes played with Ruth from 1929-32 while he was with the Yankees which is how I obtained this original photo of the “Babe”

  I did however get to see Ken Griffey Jr. in action many times both at the old Kingdome and at Safeco field. Both of these players were and will always remain bigger than life and represent the timeless game of baseball in the minds and hearts of fans across the nation and world. Griffey played the outfield with a lot more ability and daring than Ruth, but Ruth also was an excellent pitcher when he started out with the Boston Red Sox.

  Both men are legends who specialized in a flair for the dramatic, First Ruth with his famous home run in the 1932 World Series against Chicago where he pointed to centerfield then hit a home run to the spot he pointed to. Griffey of course will be best known for the five home runs he hit against the same Yankees in the 1995 division play-offs, capped off by his mad dash from first to score the winning run in game five of that series.

   While Griffey off the field is respected as a family man who never got involved in the steroids scandal, Ruth on the other hand was known as a party-animal and a bit of a ruffian. However both players had huge hearts and spent time visiting sick children and other social work that often time gets over-looked in an era where people seem to enjoy dirty-laundry and gossip.

   True American heroes are rare and hard to come by these days, but Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey Jr. who as fate would have it retired on the same day are heroes in my book. We will never know if Ken Griffey Jr. would have broken the all-time home run record had he stayed healthy, or if Ruth would have been a great manager as he always dreamed of if given a chance, but we do know we will never forget them.

%d bloggers like this: