Read that "article" by hack "sports" writer Bill Simmons (who in actuality writes more about the non-sport NBA and 90210 and the OC than real sports like baseball or college football so can he really be qualified as a sports writer?)...needless to say that is the last time I ever read his filth again. Basically an ode to irresponsibility and everything that is wrong with sports today...Simmons disputes Cal Ripken's greatness and touts the greatness of such "heroes" as Mark McGwire. I received this article courtesy of an email from JMac and responded to him in the following manner...let this also serve as my response to my less honorable friend Pasqua who simply went ahead and posted this trash on our shared blog:
The whole story is ridiculous to me because the whole premise of the article is that Cal was not "great" because he didn't pump himself full of illegal drugs so he could club 800 foot homeruns (a la McGwire and Bonds), be a complete prima donna and utter attention whore AND pump himself full of illegal drugs (a la Pedro and Gooden), because in actuality he really wasn't that great of a player but ooooh! He did backflips before a game (a la Ozzie Smith), or because he wasn't the undisputed "best player in the history of the game" (a la Jordan).
Listen...Simmons' and I just don't evaluate baseball players in the same way...by his own admission in this article he is qualifying "greatness" almost purely on charisma...and admittedly Cal didn't have it. Cal didn't do cartwheels before games, Cal didn't start bench clearing brawls by hitting opposing playes in the head, Cal didn't take illegal drugs and turn into a behemoth at the age of 37, Cal didn't ruin his sporting career ane become a footnote of sports history by playing two sports. Cal didn't demand the media spotlight every single night by faking illnesses and slinking off to bars instead. And really this is what it boils down to...Simmons is a Red Sox fan...he loves the drama...the intrigue...the Mannys and Pedros of the world...he wants his players to be media whores...Cal was not that.
Wait...which one of these did Simmons say was "great"?
Cal did everything the Orioles, his team and his managers asked of him with the diginity and skill of a Hall of Famer. Cal didn't need to make miraculous plays at shortstops constantly because he used his intelligence, because he studied that game so meticulously and each batter so carefully that he would set himself up perfectly to turn amazing plays into routine groundballs. Cal wasn't in the playoffs every year because unfortunately he had to play for one of the worst owners in baseball history. Cal was a force in the middle of the lineup for the Orioles for over two decades and while his numbers in this steroid-fueled age (which is perpetuated by douchebags like Simmons who demand players to have "charisma" or "WOW-factor) don't seem quite as gawdy now he was the definition of the type of player you wanted batting third in the 80s. Cal redefined the position of shortstop for future playes like A-Rod and Nomar...without Cal there is no A-Rod. Before Cal all shortstops were wirey, fast, no-hit fielding specialists. Cal made it OK for a 6'5" power hitting athlete to play the position. Cal is and was the epitome of all that is right with baseball...I'll let Bill Simmons keep his Pedros, Barrys, Mannys, and McGwires...I'll take Cal or Tony Gwynn (Tony fits Bill Simmons' anti-Cal criteria to a tee) any day.
PS - It should be noted that Bill Simmons is just plain wrong about Cal's numbers "declining" because of the streak"...first of all there is his 1991 MVP season a full 9 years after the Streak started, he was on pace during the 1994 strike-shortened year to hit .315 with 20+HRs and 100+RBIs, he batted .280 with 26 HRs and 100+RBIs in 1996 and batted .340 with 20 HRs at the age of 38 in 1999 after the Streak of 2632 consecutive games was completed.