Give Griffey his due

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

With one hit, Ken Griffey Jr. left behind both Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.

Statistically speaking, that is.

In a young baseball season crying out for good news, that has to be worth something.

One hit on Wednesday evoking the memory and numbers of two legends. The home run Griffey blasted in Cincinnati was his 537th, one more than Mantle, one RBI more than DiMaggio's 1,537.

Mantle and DiMaggio were figures of monumental proportions, one who missed time because of a body breaking down, the other who missed three seasons for something called World War II.

Griffey, too, has had a career interrupted by injury, but maybe one day in the future he will be considered as legendary a centre fielder as those who came before him.

Baseball certainly could use a hero or two in these troubled times. Moving past Mantle and DiMaggio provides Griffey with a platform he has never before enjoyed.

THIS AND THAT

What's with Toronto and defence? The Raptors can't play defence. The Leafs can't play defence. The Blue Jays can't play defence. Good thing Rich Stubler hangs around to make sure the Argos can ... Once around the bases, who wins? Bengie Molina or Buck Martinez in his prime? ... Alex Rios has an air of confidence about him he didn't have in previous seasons. The Blue Jays outfielder should be playing every day ... Shouldn't the Jays consider carrying three catchers? That way, they can pinch run for Molina every time he's on base late in a close game ... In praise of the former SkyDome: Baseball weather has yet to arrive in Toronto and the Jays already have played five home games ... Don't boo Eric Hinske. All he did was sign the contract offered to him. If he's not good enough, it's not his fault ... If given the option of buying an HDTV or season tickets for any team, I'm buying the television. It's like being in the stadium with the convenience of never leaving home .

HERE AND THERE

If Garth Snow isn't the worst goalie in the NHL, who is? ... A 20-goal season represents a breakthrough for the oft-maligned Alexei Ponikarovsky. A 34-point season, ranking him 207th in the league in scoring, does not ... Truth in numbers: Combined, Troy Glaus and Hinske earn more than the entire Florida Marlins team will be paid this season ... Does George Bush know about this? At the NCAA rifle shooting competition, Army finished third ahead of fourth place Navy. Alaska Fairbanks was the winner ... Further evidence, as if we needed any, that Americans hate hockey on television: The NHL ratings on NBC post-lockout are down 20% over a similar period on ABC in the clutch-and-grab days ... My definition of genius: The man who invented the baseball scorecard ... Pierre McGuire, who excites easily, told me a year ago that he thought Ian White could be the next Brian Rafalski. Rafalski was 26 when he played his first NHL game. White, of similar size, is only 21.

SCENE AND HEARD

Mike Krushelnyski is heading to Russia to coach in the SuperLeague. His first piece of advice should be: Do as I say, not as I did ... Should the Argos be looking at making a deal to pluck Kerry Joseph from Ottawa in what is certain to be a dispersal draft when the Renegades are put on ice. The Argos could use a quarterback of the future. Winnipeg, on the other hand, could use a quarterback of the present ... Good for Jalen Rose, offering up $50,000 US in college scholarship money for Detroit high schoolers. More pro athletes should do the same ... The Quincy Carter signing is typical Jim Popp. The move has big upside for the Montreal Alouettes and almost no downside ... Lost in translation and the American Hockey League: Alexander Mogilny, four goals, 10 assists, undisclosed injuries and one year left at $3.5 million .... Bode Miller's principle sponsor has dropped him. Didn't say why. Didn't have to.

AND ANOTHER THING

Miguel Batista and David Bush, both traded away, combined to strike out 18 batters in their first National League starts of the season. The entire Jays starting rotation doesn't have that many Ks in five games ... Already marked on my calendar: Week 6 in the NFL: Terrell Owens versus the Philadelphia Eagles ... Alvin Williams won't give up. But doesn't there come a time when you just say 'Sorry Alvin, it's time.' ... The average Major League Baseball salary is $3 million a season, which means some major leaguers, but not all, can afford snacks and drinks at the Rogers Centre ... Hard to believe: Sid (The Kid) Crosby is fourth in goals and fifth in points among Canadian players in his first NHL season ... And hey, whatever became of Willie Canate?


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