"It's like there's a party in my mouth and everybody's invited." - Ken Griffey, Jr.
(Oh boy, did this get longer than I expected... But you expect nothing less of me, right?)
Those of us who are old enough to remember just how exciting it was to open a pack of of the brand new Upper Deck baseball cards ("one dollar for a pack of cards?! that's obscene!") with the hope that the smiling face of Ken Griffey, Jr., would greet you, or who vividly remember the night a new primetime cartoon premiered starring a family of weird yellow people whose Christmas was saved when the losing greyhound at the track on Christmas Eve joined their family may not want to admit it, but 1989 was 21 years ago now. Any baby born the day Kid Griffey took his first cuts as a major leaguer can now buy beer whenever he wants. That's just too much.
Seeing as how two such legendary - though clearly long-in-the-tooth - institutions were born in the same year, I thought it might be fun to compare how their careers have played out these last 20+ years. Considering how they both hit such ridiculously high peaks in the 1990s before succumbing to age and injury in the 2000s, the comparison may be more apt than you realize...
Some might say that, since The Simpsons began in December 1989, it's first year was 1990. Television seasons start in the fall, though, so it makes more sense to me to line-up the 1989-90 television season with the 1989 baseball season, and the 1990-91 television season with the 1990 baseball season, and so forth... Besides, it gives us some wonderful synchronicity to play with.
Both Griffey and The Simpsons got off to solid, if unpolished, starts. Griffey batted .264/.329/.420 (108 OPS+) in 127 games that year and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting to Baltimore's rookie closer, Gregg Olson.
Of course, the Kid had a lot of hype to live up to that year - The Simpsons, not so much. As a new animated series coming to the still young Fox Network, and being based off the cartoon shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show, it wasn't exactly network television's top prospect. But with episodes like "Bart the General", "The Telltale Head", and "Krusty Gets Busted", we could certainly see the talent that would make it one of the greatest shows ever.
There was no sophomore slump in either Seattle or Springfield. In fact, both Griffey and The Simpsons improved a great deal from their already solid first seasons. Griffey increased his slash line to .300/.366/.481 (135 OPS+) in 155 games, and upped his home run total from 16 to 22.
In it's first full season, The Simpsons brought us such classics as "Bart the Daredevil", "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", "Dancin' Homer", and "Two Cars in Every Garage..." (and I could list another five episodes here and still leave off some of your favorites). And, yet, there were still even better episodes to come.
(Click "Read More" to continue reading.)