A GRIP ON SPORTS • There is one special aspect of 2015 everyone seems to be missing. This will be the last year there is no Mariner in baseball's Hall of Fame. Read on.
• I'm sorry to say, when the voting is announced today for the 2015 class, Edgar Martinez won't be among the Hall of Fame inductees. Randy Johnson, sure. He's a lock. And, yes, he spent the formative years of his career in the Seattle. But he won't be the first Mariner in the Hall of Fame, per se. The Big Unit will be enshrined in Cooperstown as a Diamondback, more than likely. After all, he won one Cy Young Award as a Mariner. He won his other four pitching for Arizona. He also won a World Series for the Diamondbacks. If the voters weren't so prejudiced against guys who were designated hitters their entire career – Frank Thomas went in last year but he played quite a few years at first base – and against guys who didn't drive the ball out of the park, as opposed to up the alleys, then Edgar would already by enshrined. (If you doubt he belongs, read Larry Stone's column. It summarizes why he should be in better than I can.) But he's not getting in this year, not with all the big names on the ballot. So his window is closing. But the door will open next year for the best Mariner of all time. Ken Griffey Jr. will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2016. He earned that honor in his time in Seattle. Yes, some of his biggest milestones were passed while he was finishing out his career with the Reds, but Griffey is a Mariner. The numbers say so. His 13 years in Seattle included 417 home runs, 1,216 RBI, a .292 batting average and a .924 OPS. Those are Hall of Fame numbers. He led the American League three consecutive years in home runs, won an MVP award and was the most spectacular centerfielder of his generation. He's a lock. Let's hope, when voters sit down next year to vote for Griffey, they will re-examine Edgar's qualifications. And him to their ballot. It won't happen, but a guy can dream.
• When I was a kid – a baseball-mad kid – I knew everyone who was in the Hall of Fame. It was the be-all and end-all for me. It was the only goal I had: be a Hall of Fame player. Sure, I wanted a long, successful career playing for the Dodgers. But all those days and nights I spent throwing the rubber-coated hard ball against the concrete-block wall in the backyard had one goal: to be enshrined in Cooperstown with Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb. The guys playing then, the Sandy Koufaxs, the Henry Aarons and the Frank Robinsons, were great. They were my heroes too. But they weren't the best of all time. Not yet. They were not Hall of Fame players. Mel Ott was a Hall of Famer. Ditto Christy Mathewson. Of course Koufax and Aaron and Robinson really were, but as an eight- or nine-year-old kid, they were just players. They weren't legends. Yet. Sometimes, while watching a game these days, I'll try to drift back 50 years and look at the game through the eyes of an eight-year-old. Who is playing today that will become a legend, a Hall of Fame player? It's hard. As an older man, cynicism has set in. Negativity makes it easy to dismiss just about everyone. Maybe that's why I want Edgar to be voted in so badly. With Edgar, there is no negativity. I remember watching my boys as eight-year-olds rooting for him, admiring him, pretending to be him in backyard games. It isn't scientific, sure, but it is from the heart. And baseball, for me, has always been the game of my heart.
• EWU: Portland State hired a new athletic director yesterday.
• Seahawks: For the fifth time in five years, the Hawks and the Carolina Panthers will square off. You think these teams know each other well? One thing is certain, this Panther playoff team is better than the one that played Seattle early in the season. ... Hey, a feature on the Hawks' long snapper. ... Russell Wilson's durability may be his most underappreciated attribute. ... One lesson from the past weekend: Don't leave the game in the officials' hands. ... The Hawks made a roster move yesterday.
• Mariners: The Hall of Fame voting will be announced at 11 a.m. our time today. Expect Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio to get in. There might even be a fifth selection. ... I just thought you might be interested in how these Bay Area writers voted. The steroid era didn't seem to bother them.
• I have resigned myself to the fact I'm not headed to Cooperstown. Actually, I came to the realization more than 40 years ago. So I'm over it by now. I think. Until later ...