"I wish him the best," said Paulina Padron of Pembroke Pines, who was bobbing to the beats near the bar. "I thought he was a good quarterback. But some [opponents] got in front of the ball when he threw it. It happens. That's life."
"He needs more..." said Padron's friend, Aileen Rosen of Weston. She paused and settled on, "coaching. Whatever. I don't want to be negative. We love him."
Across the room, sitting at a table with a bottle of Ketel One, a bottle of Chambord, and some cans of Red Bull, a dark-haired fellow named Kobe Russo of Davie waxed less charitable about the departing signal caller.
"You either love him or you hate him," Russo said. Then he reconsidered. "He's a Jet now, right? Fuck him."
After the Cincinnati Reds eked out a 2-1 victory against the Marlins on Sunday, a sea of milling scribes and radio types in the visitors' locker room suddenly parted for Ken Griffey Jr. The man chosen by his peers as the Player of the '90s, somberly self-possessed, a walking "no comment," headed from the showers with a towel around his waist.
No "Way to go" or "Nice game, Joon" from anybody. A huge, mute elephant dominated the room -- not Griffey but, it seemed to Tailpipe, Griffey's absence. As of Sunday, Junior had 56 homerless at-bats for the season, and he has barely hit .200 since hamstring surgery last year. That day, he had just gone 1-for-4. What can you say about that?
But just as Michael Jordan never let the public see him except in a jersey or a suit, so too does Griffey maintain the image of athletic royalty. When he turned from his locker, he was bedecked in pinstriped suit pants, a blue dress shirt, and a dark blue tie, as conspicuous among men in their skivvies eating ribs and watching TV as he is an anomaly among the .200 hitters. For the first time all day, he looked sharp, walking with a barely perceptible limp, in pants as dark as twilight.