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View From The Crow's Nest

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Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement recently 630 home runs and 22 seasons into his marvelous career. One of the most awe-inspiring and unforgettable performances I've ever seen was watching him pump baseballs—somewhat effortlessly I might add—into the upper deck in right field at Three Rivers Stadium during the home run derby prior to the 1994 All-Star Game. It was one of those moments when you knew you were in the presence of greatness.

• The Pirates improved their defense greatly when Jose Tabata took over for Lastings Milledge in left field and Neil Walker replaced Aki Iwamura at second base. Tabata is a lot easier on the eyes going after fly balls than was Milledge, who had this drunken sailor thing going on out there too often. Tabata's reads and routes are much, much better. And Walker—who played only 21 games at second base in the minors and none before Jose Tabatathis year—makes at least two or three plays every game on balls that Aki wouldn't have reached.

• Here's something else that makes the Iwamura deal look even worse – I mean besides him hitting below .200 and having range that another writer accurately described as "negligible." The Pirates traded reliever Jesse Chavez to Tampa Bay to get him. The Rays turned around and traded Chavez to Atlanta for Rafael Soriano. In his first 25 games this year, Soriano went 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA and successfully converted all 16 of his save opportunities for one of the best teams in baseball. So for the same asset—Chavez—Pittsburgh got Aki and Tampa Bay got a bona fide closer.

• Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a great line about the Pirates putting Charlie Morton on disabled list with what was termed "shoulder fatigue" when he wrote: "That actually makes sense. When you can't get anyone out, it's tiring." It's still incredible that Morton managed to lose nine games before the end of May.

• Here's something else that's hard to believe. The Cleveland Indians are last in the American League in attendance this year. That's the same franchise that put together a 455-game home sellout streak between 1995 and 2001. During that seven-year stretch, the Tribe captured the Central Division title six times and sold every available ticket for all 81 home games prior to Opening Day for three straight seasons.

• Steve Blass actually said this during the telecast of Dana Eveland's Pirates' debut on June 7 against the Cubs: "We have to get the lead-off batter out here one of these innings." The lefty—who GM Neal Huntington called "a probable upgrade to the rotation"—worked five not-so-impressive innings that afternoon in what turned out to be a 6-1 loss.

• In Case You Missed It: Former Pirate outfielder Andy Van Slyke's son Jared is fighting his way back from a knee injury and has a shot to start at safety for coach Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines this fall… Former Pirate Tim Wakefield recently went over the 3,000-innings pitched mark for his career. Jamie Moyer and Andy Pettitte are the only other active pitchers who have logged at least that many innings… Philadelphia's Moyer remains in a big league starting rotation at age 47 (he turns 48 in November) and even pitched a two-hitter this season. The list of guys who pitched at age 45 or older includes: Roger Clemens, Charlie Hough, Tommy John, Randy Johnson, Phil Niekro, Jesse Orosco, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan and Hoyt Wilhelm. The last pitcher beyond the age of 47 to appear in a major league game was Niekro, who was 48 as a member of the 1987 Atlanta Braves.

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