Wednesday, January 10, 2007

90% of Success Is Just Showing Up

Cal Ripkin, Jr. and Tony Gwynn will be the 2007 inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Gwynn was elected as an eight time National League Batting Champion. Ripkin's entry is based more upon the fact that he played more consecutive games than any other player, rather than what he did in those games. Ripkin played in 2,632 straight games for the Baltimore Orioles, an incredible feat that speaks more to his will and desire than his baseball prowess. Sure, Ripkin's 431 home runs and 3,184 hits certainly make him a likely Hall of Fame candidate. However, he was a lifetime .276 hitter. Therefore, it is my opinion that Ripkin, while a great player, is clearly overrated.

However, there is one area where Ripkin is clearly among the greatest of all time. That area is urban legends. One of the greatest urban legends of all time is that Ripkin had the Orioles preserve his streak by calling a game off after Ripkin found actor Kevin Costner in bed with his wife. From Snopes.com:

Upon arriving at his home, he found Kevin Costner in bed with his wife, Kelly. Cal then proceeded to beat the crap out of Costner, to the point that Costner was unable to make any publicity opportunities for a time. Cal then called the Orioles, and told them he wouldn't be coming in to play that day. Upon hearing this, the owner reminded Cal about his streak, telling him The Streak would end if he didn't play that day. Cal told him it was impossible for him to come in, so there went the streak. Reportedly, the owner told him not to worry, because he would take care of it. That night, the game was cancelled due to "electrical failure" with some lights on the field.

Clearly a Hall of Fame caliber rumor. Unfortunately, Snopes.com goes on to say that it is completely false:

A scheduled 14 August 1997 game between the Orioles and the Seattle Mariners was cancelled due to lighting problems, but there was nothing "mysterious" about it. A ground fault interrupt kept tripping the circuit breaker each time the lights in the right-field bank were turned on, and the game's 7:35 P.M. starting time was pushed back as a crew worked on the problem.

The game was later cancelled.

Whether the electrical outage was "mysterious" or not, it wasn't concocted to keep Ripken's streak alive by forcing the cancellation of a game he would otherwise have missed. News reports of the day's events prove Ripken was present at the ballpark, suited up and ready to play; both fans and reporters noted him sitting in the dugout and playing catch along the sidelines that evening.

3 Comments:

Anonymous john f not kerry said...

Nihilist, I beg to differ. While a decent hitter, Ripken was an outstanding fielder. While many of the star shortstops of his day won praise for their dazzling plays, he just kept winning Gold Gloves. And, while it may sound a little maudlin, he meant something to baseball.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember what Cal Ripkin looked like when he was a rookie? He had a nice full head of dark hair.

By the time he retired, he looked like Beetle Bailey's General Halftrack, sans mustache.

9:40 AM  
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