1989 marked the year that both Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson made their Mariner debuts. While Edgar Martinez and Jamie Moyer may be more beloved for their loyalty to the Trident, there is little disputing that the former pair constitutes the best hitter and pitcher ever to don a Mariner uniform. Tonight at Safeco, Johnson will take the hill for the San Francisco Giants, in search of his 299th win. (What a shame he lost his last outing, depriving his onetime backers the opportunity to see their first #300 since Gaylord Perry's milestone victory at the Dome on May 6, 1982, a game I had the good fortune of attending on account of the fact that it was my brother Joe's birthday.) Griffey, of course, is back where it all began, donning Mariner silks for what will almost assuredly be his farewell campaign.
Griffey's bat has shown some life lately, but both players have been shadows of their former selves this year, with Johnson boasting an ERA over 6.00 for the first time since he was a wild young pup with the Expos (R.I.P.). While the pair defined the M's then-unprecedented success of the mid-'90s, it was only after both were traded that the team flirted with a World Series berth. Whether regret lurks deep within the bellies of each of these over-the-hill, surefire hall-of-famers, the only thing that's of importance tonight is whether Don Wakamatsu lets sentiment prevail over pragmatism, as he's been prone to play Mike Sweeney instead of Griffey against southpaw starters. If ever there were a night to cave to the entertainment factor, this is it -- and the fact that Sweeney and Griffey's batting averages have gone in opposite directions of late should give the M's skipper the excuse he needs to flip the switch.