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Why I Never Liked Cal Ripken
Posted by Chris Liss at 1/10/2007 10:03:00 PM
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A couple of our writers posted in our admin forum that they didn't like Ripken but couldn't pinpoint why. Here's what I think it is:

Because the media and the baseball establishment has a way of taking ordinary, decent guys and trying to make them into icons when they're not. So then you get hit over the head with how great a guy, how amazing of a person Ripken is over and over again, and it starts to get annoying. Muhammad Ali was an icon - Cal Ripken was just a good player who went about his business. As a person, there was nothing remarkable about him. But the sports are always looking for players they can market and hang their hats on. So they blow these guys out of proportion. And it's easy to start reacting to that and feel - what's so special about this guy? Sure, he's good at baseball - I don't begruge him being an All-Star when he's deserved it, but after a while, can't everyone just quit it with the sucking up? Can't a player just be as good or as bad as he actually is without all this EXTRA - this canonizing the guy, the drooling praise from every corner?

It's like a virus that spreads - people realize a guy is a good player, and that, in addition, he has no obvious public relations baggage (no criminal acts, no run-ins with teammates, etc.), and suddenly, it's safe to praise that player through the roof. After all, the fans like him, your colleagues like him - you won't offend anyone by saying what a great guy he is. In fact, you'll look like a great guy yourself by recognizing and confirming everyone's beliefs about him. So it snowballs, and it gets to the point where the announcers are bending over backwards to make excuses for Ripken's lack of range toward the end of his career or for every boneheaded throw Brett Favre makes. There are a few announcers (Cris Collinsworth (whatever you otherwise think of him) is one) who tell it pretty much like it is, but most just spew whatever inane thoughts cross their habit-entrenched brains, and it's basically just what they hear everywhere else.

So I never liked Ripken. Peyton Manning, either. Maybe that's partly why everyone gives Manning so much flack for not winning in the playoffs - people are so sick of the praise heaped on the guy (great player, ordinary guy). And maybe that's why Mark McGwire's getting scapegoated for the whole steroid era - because he was built up as the savior of baseball for a while, and the episode in front of congress shattered that.


I hate him because everything he (and the media) did is the reason why my favorite SS, Alan Trammell, hasn't made the HOF. Ripken had better power numbers, but for my money, I'd rather have Tram. Yes,Tram had only 189 homers, not the gaudy 431 that Ripken had. However, Trammell had a better batting average and OBP. He also stole 236 bags, whereas Ripken managed only 36 while being caught 39 times. Fielding percentages are identical, but Tram had better range.

According to Baseball Reference, Tram's HOF monitor number is 118, and a likely HOF'er is anything over 100. People are still drooling over Ripken so much though, that Tram won't be voted in. If Tram would've pulled off a few back flips like Ozzie Smith, maybe he'd have a chance. That's what gets the baseball writers' attention.

Don't even get me started on why Jack Morris, the winningest pitcher of the 80's isn't in the hall...

Posted by lvtdude at 1/11/2007 4:42:00 AM
Man, I never knew I was in the minority here.

I liked the guy, Chris. I think your argument is perfect for Peyton Manning - the epitome of over-hyped just for the sake of being over-hyped as a person, more than a football player. You nailed it there.

The reason I think Cal deserves his recognition is for "the streak." That streak was more than simply "doing what you get paid to do." That streak stood for the working man. So many of us work 18 hour days, go to sleep and then do it again. So many of us take Advil for a week straight to be able to handle the fever or the sore throat so we can go to work, because so many of us need the money. It kills me when a fellow employee calls in sick every Friday (as if it isn't obvious) or the morning after the Super Bowl, et all. That streak was for the working class who show up at the office everyday so they can feed the family. Here's a guy who could just as easily played 140 games a year, still made all the money and still got to the Hall. He didn't though - he took his Advil and showed up.

His representation and motivation of the millions of hard working men who feel underpaid and under appreciated went a long way back then.

That's just my corny angle, anyway.
Posted by RogOli71 at 1/11/2007 8:43:00 AM

Thank you for making my point better than I ever could have, Roger. That "working man" post is exactly how the media hypes an ordinary guy (who happens to be a great baseball player) and turns him into more than he is. What does playing baseball have to do with the ordinary working man? And really, is there even a such thing as the "ordinary working man?" Some work hard. Others are lazy and incompetent. Some are great guys. Others are abusive drunks... And who cares whether Ripken played 161 or 162 games. The years that the Orioles had a division title locked up with a week to play - who cares if he took a day off? Ripken loved playing baseball obviously, and he chose to play every day. Good for him. Durability and reliability are virtues. But when you start making it more than that - hyping it up and marketing it as if it's SOMETHING ELSE - as if it represents "the working man", then people like me get sick of the guy - and it's probably not even Ripken's fault. Had he missed 20 games in 1986 after being hit by a pitch a breaking a finger, would that mean anything different about him as a person? Yeah, it would mean he wasn't quite so lucky.
Posted by cliss at 1/11/2007 10:57:00 AM
Posted elsewhere, relevant here:

I'm not debating Ripken's talent and his production, no one can question that. I'm just saying I didn't like the guy, in part because I was so sick of being told all the time how he was the greatest thing since sliced bread on and off the field. Maybe it was his prima donna resistance at changing positions that turned me off, or how he threw a hissy fit when Davey Johnson had the audacity to pinch run for him one game (if someone like Owens did that, it's talk-radio fodder for a week). Or maybe it was the "separate hotel" stuff on the road. Or maybe it was how Ripken was too stubborn to come out for a rest even after the record was secured.

Bottom line, Ripken normally gets glorified in most media outlets as this deity, on and off the field, and I think it's misleading. Star player, sure, but I never got the idea the team's goals or agendas were ever more important to Cal than his own were.

When Ripken broke the record, Chris Berman alluded to how the booth was "crying along with everyone else at home" or something like that. Umm, no, I wasn't crying. Maybe I just don't like baseball enough, dunno.

Posted by spianow at 1/11/2007 11:29:00 AM
"People like you?" C'mon Chris, have a heart. He broke one of the "unbreakables." When Scott refers to him (or posted something that referred to him) as a "prima donna," I have to scratch my head. I know those were not your words, but it shares your angle. On the contrary, actually. Wasn't it Brian Giles who once got put on the DL for extensive sunburn? That's prima donna.

The guy wasn't just "lucky," either. If he'd gone 2,000+ games without ever getting hurt, THEN he'd be lucky. The point is, he had aches and pains like everyone else, but he showed up.

As for your "who cares" question: A lot of people cared. Obviously you are not one of them and you are entitled to that opinion. Others though, viewed it as a helluva' statement.

Whenever you can touch someone outside your fan base (make a non-baseball fan take notice of your accomplishment), then you've done something special.

Now, I can sway to your side a bit with Berman saying we cried together as a Nation - or whatever the hell he said. That's a bit much, but I do see the reason Cal is held in high regard.
Posted by RogOli71 at 1/11/2007 12:55:00 PM
I never said he was "just" lucky. But he was damn lucky that he never had anything more than aches and pains over that span. And actually, the "prima donna" argument might be valid, but it does not share my angle. I'm saying the guy was a great baseball player, but that's it. He doesn't represent the working man, it's not a test of whether you have a heart if you like him, that playing in a lot of games in a row is a nice thing, but whether it "touches" non-fans because the media beats it to death doesn't matter at all to me. Just don't care in the least.

Posted by cliss at 1/11/2007 1:12:00 PM
So you blame Cal for the media's actions toward him & the streak? He was an ICON for every young ball player growing up in Maryland. I met him when I was 10 years old & he took the time to talk to me, not just wave his hand. He stood for everything that was once good & in most respects, still good about the game of baseball. All these other jokers that play the game today are egotistical jerks who take everything for granted. Cal grew up an Oriole & he got his chance to play for the team he loved. The city of Baltimore embraced him & he wanted nothing more than for the Orioles to win. That's what he was about. You talk about the lack of range in his later years, well duh, that's bound to happen. Why don't you talk about the range he had when he was 22 or 23 years old. He changed the SS position & everyone from Jeter to A-Rod has him to thank for it. Cal deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame with the greats of all time, because he is one of them.

BTW - Alan Trammell may have been a good player, but he is not in Cal's league. Sorry Alan, but the Hall will not be calling.
Posted by palms12 at 1/12/2007 7:08:00 AM
I heard a rumor that Kevin Costner was banging Cal Ripken's wife.
Posted by gvwagner8 at 1/12/2007 8:44:00 AM
Cal Ripken = Brett Favre

Good for the game of baseball = being more concerned with your own personal "streak" than caring about the success of your team.

All "other jokers that play the game today are egotistical jerks"... give me a break.

I am not a big fan of Cal. He deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame, but the universal gushing makes me gag.
Posted by hainesbl at 1/12/2007 11:04:00 AM
My problem with Ripken is that I always thought it would've been the classiest move in the world if he'd halted his streak after TYING Gehrig's mark. After all, Gehrig had to take a day off BECAUSE HE WAS DYING. If Ripken had done that, he'd have taken a mostly symbolic streak and turned it into something that really showed respect for the history of the game.
Posted by Jacobdk at 1/12/2007 11:51:00 AM
I don't care what you say - not getting an injury during that streak was LUCKY. I respect the fact that he obviously played with aches and pains but thats all that record really means. He WAS lucky that he didn't break a bone or tear a muscle, it wasn't up to him! Take the record away, and he was a career .270 hitter with 430 HRs. Not bad but not great either. He is at the top of my list of over rated baseball players - no question about it.
Posted by socalyard at 1/13/2007 9:40:00 PM
The anti-Cal sentiment kind of reminds me of when someone hates the Beatles because they are too popular.
Posted by schoenke at 1/16/2007 11:55:00 AM
Stats don't lie and the Beatles DO suck. Unless boy bands are your thing, if so than go nuts! No pun intended.
Posted by socalyard at 1/21/2007 6:48:00 PM

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