It’s a baseball rite of spring. Left and right, players are “in the best shape in years” or “experimenting with a new pitch” or “injury-free for the first time in years”. Like suddenly Greg Gross is going to turn into the second coming of Chuck Klein.
This spring’s “miracle” ballplayer weight loss, among others, belongs to none other than Ken Griffey, Jr., for – are you sitting down? – dropping seven pounds riding an (expensive!) exercise bike and eating healthy foods. But Junior, seven pounds all winter? At least go for double digits!*
* I have two early memories of Junior. I didn’t move to Seattle until 1994, so I had an outsider’s lens his first five seasons with the M’s. My first was my dear friend Ted Shuster (RIP) who saw Griffey in some late night telecast and nagged me about how sweet Junior’s swing was until I promised to watch a Mariners game. The second was a little off the beaten path. I went through a period of reading the Bill Mazeroski baseball guide every spring, pretty much cover to cover. One year, while spending spring break with my Grandma and Grandpa Quinlan in Buffalo**, I read a scout’s take, something like: “Griffey needs to watch his weight. He has gained five pounds a year, and if he keeps this up...” For some reason, that little passage has never left me. This year, I guess it’s Griffey who gets the last laugh.
** Yes, during my college years I spent spring break in Buffalo. Not exactly Daytona Beach, but four winters in Rochester will soften up your expectations pretty good.