Updated: Nov 4, 2022
It's back, bitches!
In case you missed the memo, baseball is cool again.
A la Griffey in the 90's. And just like Griffey in the 90's there are two distinct, and very important similarities to note here:
It all starts with the Seattle Mariners aka America's Team.
The man behind the renaissance has already rocketed himself into one-name superstardom. You may call him "Julio," short for "JULIOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
But before we do a quick dive into what makes this kid (literally, he's 21 years old) so special...let's take a trip down memory lane and revisit the why and how the Mariners captured an entire generation of fans
A blast so high and deep (that's what she said) that it's still talked about to this day. 1 of the 630 career home runs Griffey would hit. Called by the infamous Dave Niehaus, RIP. Unlike Uncle Rico he swore he would have won state if they would have just put him in at quarterback, Griffey REALLY would have been the all-time home run king if he never got injured later on in his career. Or played for the fucking Reds. But, I digress.
There was also this:
It wasn't just the most beautiful swing you've ever seen, it was the smile and the backwards hat. Oh yeah, and Griffey hitting the Warehouse at Camden during the home run derby. You know you're the man when you're tattooing baseballs so far you have to stand back and laugh at your own absurdity. The ball was hit so hard there's a plaque commemorating it on the Warehouse in Baltimore to this day.
Despite the longest playoff drought in American professional sports, the Seattle Mariners have managed to have generational talent pretty consistently in the organization for extended periods of time. Griffey and A-Rod before he was a roided out douche, The Big Unit, Buhner, etc. Fast forward to the era of Ichiro and a 116-win team in 2001 before getting bitch-slapped by the Yankees in the playoffs then POOF, no more appearances.
I grew up in Washington State, I'm a diehard Seattle sports everything. For better or for worse, mostly for worse. Our fanbase has been abused so badly that any and all shit-talking doesn't phase me but any national news media attention when our team(s) are doing good and it's "shhhhhhh, you'll jinx us!"
I haven't seen the Mariners make the playoffs since I was in high school. I turn 38 this November. Wrap your head around that for a second while I grab another beer to drown out those memories.
Okay, we're back. Let's focus on present day. It's Wednesday, July 27th, 2022. The Mariners have just completed a 3-game sweep of the lowly Texas Rangers thanks in most part to the aforementioned Julio blasting a 3-run bomb off the scoreboard in left-center to give the Mariners the lead, his 17th of the season. He's easily on pace for 30+ bombs and 100+ RBIs on the year. ROY is pretty much a lock. Now, he's tracking for MVP of the whole damn league.
Did I already mention that he's only 21 years old??
Mariners fans knew what we had in him, and we're overjoyed, to say the least. But after YEARS of torture, we deserve a Julio. Period. As far as the rest of the league/world, well, they were officially put on notice when Julio, despite losing the home run derby, blasted a record 81 dingers without breaking a sweat and THAT is when you felt the tide shift in the world of baseball. Here it is:
World, Julio. Julio, world. Shit, even Steph Curry noticed the dude and was shouting him out on Twitter.
He can hit. He can throw - gunning down opponents trying to advance to 3rd on a single with a ball nearly touching 100 mph. He can play defense. But, most of all, he just loves to play ball and seemingly loves the fans and the city of Seattle just as much. Like Julio said himself: "I was not built to watch baseball, man. I was built to play it. That's all I can say."
All I know is, Rob Manfred should be on his knees in a Julio jersey worshipping the dude for reviving the very league that he appeared hell-bent on destroying. Seriously, he's a trash Commissioner who got really, really lucky.
So, buckle up Mariners fans and fans of baseball in general. It's time to tune in to the J-Rod show.