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Two important stories this morning...

• Ken Griffey Jr. announced yesterday that he is retiring from baseball, leaving the Seattle Mariners before their game yesterday against the Minnesota Twins.

Griffey, 40, had been relegated this season to a limited role as a backup designated hitter and pinch hitter because of reduced productivity reflected in a .184 batting average and just seven RBIs. However, the way in which Griffey’s career ended cannot diminish his accomplishments during 22 seasons - he was a 13-time All Star, 11-time Gold Glove recipient, and is fifth on the all-time home run leader list with 630. And perhaps more importantly, Griffey’s name never came up during discussions of the steroids era, which tarnished such players as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.

• Rookie pitcher Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers threw a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians yesterday - retiring the minimum 27 men in order. Except that he didn’t...because umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base on what should have been the third out, saying that Jason Donald was safe when it was clear - especially in replays - that he was out.

Galarraga and the Tigers won the game 3-0 on the next play, and Joyce was despondent afterwards because he knew that he’d blown the call. But Galarraga simply smiled, accepted Joyce’s apology, and said, “Nobody’s perfect.”
KC's View:
Galarraga’s response to the umpire error ought to be required viewing for every Little League coach and parent ... because this is a kid who behaved with utter class, who demonstrated what sportsmanship is all about.

As for Griffey...I was lucky enough last summer to get to attend a Mariners game at Safeco Field in Seattle, my favorite city, and see Griffey play in a Mariners’ uniform. For that evening, all seemed right with the universe, as if the planets were aligned.

There is much to criticize about baseball. But Griffey and Galarraga, it seems to me, reflect much of what is wonderful about the greatest game.