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Ken Griffey Jr. entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame

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Ken Griffey Jr. will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame next month, and the Mariners plan to retire his No. 24 this season.

Trey Griffey was selected by the Mariners in the 2016 amateur draft in the 24th round — fittingly, his father’s old team and jersey number. The pick on the draft’s final day appeared to be the Mariners paying homage to their former star, as Trey Griffey hadn’t played baseball competitively since before high school.

On Wednesday against the Cubs, Strasburg made his 33rd start since signing a seven-year, $175 million contract extension with the Washington Nationals last May. In frontline starting pitcher terms, 33 starts is the equivalent of a season. One single baseball year. As far as checkpoints are concerned, it’s as good a time as any to sit back and take stock.

Dude was electric, fanning six straight Chicago hitters at one point and tallying 13 punchouts on the night against one lonely walk. Dude was efficient, needing only 96 pitches to plow through seven innings, in the process giving a shaky Nats relief corps the kind of breather that front-of-the-rotation studs are expected to give their bullpens.

“I think David Ortiz is one of the most charismatic players to come along in a long time,” Piazza said. “Putting his numbers aside, I think he’s a great guy. He’s great for the city. He’s obviously very colorful and fun to watch.

For all their differences, Griffey and Piazza have spent enough time together over the past few months to discover they’re kindred spirits in many ways. Amid the plaudits and the shoutouts — and so many cheers — they have learned they’re more alike than their baseball résumés would suggest.

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Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday with the highest voting percentage ever, and Mike Piazza will join him in Cooperstown this summer.

With the Hall of Fame election announcement looming on Wednesday, the question is less about whether Ken Griffey Jr jersey will be elected. The real question is how there will possibly be enough room on Griffey’s bronze plaque in Cooperstown to list all of his accomplishments.

This year’s Breakthrough Series has had a distinct Chicago flavor to it. Some of the notable guest speakers have ties to the city, such as former White Sox outfielders Ken Griffey Jr. and Bo Jackson and former White Sox manager Jerry Manuel. Instructors and former big leaguers Marvin Freeman and Lou Collier grew up in the area, and Breakthrough Series director Del Matthews –the son of former big leaguer Gary Matthews Sr. — attended high school in the Chicago area and worked in the White Sox organization before claiming his current post.

With decreasing percentages of African-American players at the highest level, MLB is entering its fourth decade working to develop players long before they have to be scouted and identified for the Draft. It’s been a continuing effort for many executives and scouts, including former Mets general manager Omar Minaya.

For 20 minutes beyond a late-night news conference, Pujols signed baseballs for Scott Steffel and his family. Steffel is the 23-year-old graphic artist from nearby Costa Mesa, Calif., who grabbed the first grand slam to account for the coveted 600 milestone with his baseball glove as he tumbled over rows of seats in the left-field corner.

Mariners #24 Ken Griffey Stitched White MLB Jersey

The man dubbed “The Machine” has churned out 14 30-home run seasons to date, tied with Barry Bonds for the second most in history. Pujols’ seven 40-homer seasons equal the totals of Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth most all-time. Pujols is also just nine long balls away from tying Sosa for eighth among the career leaders.

“The only guy I’ve ever been able to compare to with Mike Trout is Ken Griffey Jr.,” said Langston, who was teammates with Griffey in Seattle in 1989. “So many things that I see in Mike Trout, I saw back then in Ken Griffey Jr. And we all know how Ken Griffey Jr.’s career turned out.”

Other notable milestones are also within reach for Pujols this year. With 593 career home runs, he needs only seven more to become the ninth player in Major League history to join the exclusive 600-homer club.

A-Rod came into last season needing only 13 more homers to reach 700. When he hit a cluster of three in four games at the end of April and early May at Texas and Boston, it seemed like that the lofty mark was a certainty. He then injured his right hamstring running out a grounder in Baltimore on May 3 and missed three weeks. 

With decreasing percentages of African-American players at the highest level, MLB is entering its fourth decade working to develop players long before they have to be scouted and identified for the Draft. It’s been a continuing effort for many executives and scouts, including former Mets general manager Omar Minaya.

Piazza’s emotional ties to New York are most profound whenever clips are shown of his 2001 home run that propelled the Mets past Atlanta in the first game back from the World Trade Center attacks. Almost 15 years after the two-run shot cleared the fence at Shea Stadium, Piazza is a constant witness to the impact the moment has had on others. It was a recurrent theme on Hall of Fame weekend.

So far in his injury-plagued career, that has happened only once. The year was 2014, the only season since he debuted in 2010 that Strasburg made every one of his starts (34 to be exact). It’s also the only time he has appeared in a postseason game, as he missed both the 2012 and 2016 playoffs.

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