Thirty years ago today, Cal Ripken, Jr. began something very special.
Thirty years ago today, 21-year-old Cal Ripken, Jr. suited up as the starting third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles after having sat out the second game of a twi-night doubleheader against the Blue Jays the night before. The missed game was Ripken's third such of the season. The rookie was batting .238 with a .384 slugging. That Sunday afternoon, Ripken played in all nine innings of the Jays' one-hit victory, going 0-for-2 with a walk, a strikeout, two putouts and an assist. There was hardly anything special about it.
The next time Ripken would sit for even an inning—save for the ninth-inning of a June 4, 1982, game when Ripken was pinch-hit for by Jim Dwyer (who struck out against Terry Felton)—was September 14, 1987, five-and-a-half years later. In an 18-3 blowout of the O's manager Cal Ripken, Sr. benched Ripken Jr. in the eighth inning, replaced by Ron Washington. Ripken had played in 8,243 consecutive innings between the two dates.
What kind of production do teams receive from players tabbed to replace superstars?
Earlier this week, Mariano Rivera arrived at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, and caused a stir by strongly hinting that the 2012 season would be his final one. The 42-year-old, who has served as the Yankees’ closer since 1997, has shown no signs of slippage, with four straight seasons of ERAs under 2.00 backed by stellar peripherals—strikeout and walk rates better than his career numbers, even—and high save totals. Late last season, he surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the all-time saves leader, and with five World Series rings in hand, the only real challenge that remains is for him to convince manager Joe Girardi to allow him a cameo in center field.
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Fans are upset at Zack Greinke's basketball hobby, but would they be so upset at Cal Ripken?
As a Brewers fan, the news on Tuesday that Zack Greinke would be starting the season on the disabled list due to a broken rib was rather upsetting. Greinke is one of the best pitchers in baseball and his acquisition was supposed to herald in a memorable, playoff-chasing 2011 season. Getting injured so early in the year, and in such a dangerous part of the body, is not the type of thing any Milwaukee fan wants to hear.
But I'm not one to overreact. The club has said that they are just being extra-careful with Greinke this early in the year. If this were, say, the playoffs, he would be healthy enough to play. That lessened the sting a bit. Not all fans are buying it, though, and they seem to all be taking it out on Greinke and the way his injury came about: Greinke injured his ribs in a game of pickup basketball by diving for a rebound in the first week of spring training. "How could he be so stupid?!" seems to be the common thought amongst the irate. "You get paid to play BASEBALL, not basketball!"
Looking at players from two defensive positions on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Like ballotmate Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin and Alan Trammell are overwhelmingly qualified for the Hall of Fame, but didn't gain entry last year. Larkin made a strong showing in his first year on the ballot, one which suggests he'll reach Cooperstown sooner or later, while Trammell continued to receive a puzzling lack of support and watched his odds of election grow even longer. Today, we'll use JAWS to re-examine their Hall of Fame cases, and with just a week until the ballot results are announced, we'll also take a brief look at the backstops on the ballot—catching up, if you will.
Guest columnist Allen Barra shares a few words about the mangling of baseball language.
In baseball, there's good jargon and bad jargon. Like Ozzie Smith on artificial turf, the definition of jargon covers a lot of ground. The Oxford English Dictionary, for instance, offers one definition: "the language, esp. the vocabulary, peculiar to a trade, profession, or group." Applied to baseball, that definition conjures up images of Ring Lardner, Casey Stengel and Harry Caray--you know, slang. I like that kind of jargon.
Yet another definition reads: "Speech or writing characterized by pretentious terminology and involved syntax." Unfortunately, that definition takes in just about everyone broadcasting or writing about baseball today. I don't like that kind of jargon, and I'll bet you don't either. And like me, I'll bet you use it all the time.
While the average player peaks between the ages of 26 and 28, individuals have a great variety of career paths. Chaim Bloom takes a look at what happens to players who have big seasons before turning 24.
This crucial knowledge informs every team's player moves, and when it does not, leads us to question them. For instance:
Rarely is Miguel Tejada unaccounted for in the Baltimore Orioles' clubhouse. Tejada isn't afraid to make his own fashion statement--even if it's not approved--raise his voice a few decimals, or just chat away until his new teammates have heard enough. By his own admission Tejada relishes being the center of attention, and he's certainly earned that right.
An undrafted free agent out of Bani, Dominican Republic, Tejada signed with the Oakland A's in 1993 wth hopes of following in the steps of his childhood idol, Alfredo Griffin. Over a decade later Tejada is already considerd a member of baseball's top-tier shortstops. But after validating his star-status by winning the 2002 American League MVP Award and being part of the A's recent postseason run, Tejada, who signed a six-year, $72 million deal in the off-season, is ready to begin a new chapter in his career. BP recently interviewed Tejada about saying good-bye to Oakland, swinging the bat in hitter-friendly Camden Yards and patroling the same postion in Baltimore that for years belonged to Cal Ripken Jr..
Baseball Prospectus: When you run out to shortstop at Camden Yards April 4th for the first time as an Oriole you are going to be in charge of the same position that Cal Ripken Jr. mastered for so many years in Baltimore. What are the things that come to mind when anybody mentions Cal, and do you feel added pressure knowing what he will always mean to the city of Baltimore?