Quick editorial related to today’s Bullets. Cal Ripken Jr. is both one of the most underrated and overrated ballplayers of all-time, and it’s all because of that streak. In his 20s, Ripken was one of the most dominating players ever: a power-hitting shortstop in an era when shortstops usually hit 4 home runs a season. And while he wasn’t naturally-gifted to play the position, he turned himself into a superior defensive shortstop through hard work and intelligence. He wasn’t quite as great after he turned 30, but he was still good. All-in-all, only Honus Wagner can realistically claim to have had a better career at shortstop than Ripken and it was a different game back then.
But no one ever talks about that. Everyone talks about “The Streak.” While the streak was pretty darn incredible and took an incredible amount of force of will for Ripken to accomplish, it didn’t really help the Orioles win ballgames. And that’s the point of baseball: to win, not just show up every day. You can’t argue that the Orioles would have won fewer pennants had Ripken taken two days off every season and you could argue that they would have won a couple more had he been more rested down the stretch.
So to sum up: Cal Ripken Jr., the ballplayer? Underrated. Cal Ripken Jr., the streak? Overrated. And I’m a filthy communist who hates America, apple pie and should go back to Cuba.
- Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker was released from the hospital yesterday after undergoing emergency surgery on Sunday night after a CT scan had shown internal bleeding on the brain after he was hit with a Kyle Seager line drive on Sunday. Scary, but he’s now expected to make a full recovery. He is out for the rest of the season, however.
- Former MLB pitcher Bryce Florie, whose career was pretty much ended after getting hit with a line drive in 2000, begs pitchers to wear some sort of protective headgear.
- Normally I don’t do Cubs stories, but I thought you’d like to see this one by Mark Titus: The Cubs are going to win the World Series because there is no such thing as curses and “the Chicago Cubs are an unstoppable G—D—- machine.” Unless they have a bad night in Milwaukee. And I think we’ve all had a bad night in Milwaukee at some point in our lives, right?
- Tom Verducci agrees: This is next year for the Cubs.
- Hannah Whitten looks at the most unbreakable records in sports. I remember Jack Brickhouse assuring me on several occasions that Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak would never be broken.
- Craig Calcaterra asks if Ripken’s record is really as big a deal as we make it out to be?
- Bill Baer notes that baseball’s power surge in 2016 is not going away. This season currently has the 2nd highest home run rate, behind only 2000.
- Thanks in part to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who has now homered in five straight games. He has seven homers in that span.
- Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has made a surprise return to the Marlins roster, after what was expected to be a season-ending groin injury. However, he is limited to pinch-hitting duties for now.
- Rays third baseman Matt Duffy is out for the year after Achilles surgery.
- Bob Ryan takes apart the argument that the MVP Award should go to a player with a nebulous idea of “value” rather than the best player. He also argues that relievers should not win the Cy Young Award, unless they are some sort of freak like Mike Marshall.
- Grant Brisbee must be glad he’s not voting for the NL Cy Young Award because he has absolutely no clue as to how anyone could decide whom to vote for.
- Clayton Kershaw’s rehab start was a big deal in Rancho Cucamonga.
- Rany Jazayerli looks at the Royals fading playoff chances and says while the odds are long, don’t count out the defending champions magic yet.
- Matthew Trueblood points out that the window is closing for the Tigers and it may be this year or never. (Well, not never for the Tigers. But never for this group of Tigers.)
- The ship be sinking. The Pirates have lost 8 in a row and have fallen under .500. Dayn Perry thinks the Bucs chances are long but thanks to a favorable schedule, not impossible.
- Mark Saxon outlines what the Cardinals have to do to win a Wild Card spot.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that the team has “got to wake up.”
- The Rays fired their hitting coach, because someone has to take the blame, writes R.J. Anderson.
- It sounds like the Braves are going to sign Tim Tebow, and Ken Rosenthal explains why such a move would make sense.
- Braves general manager John Coppolella thinks Tebow would be a “no risk” signing.
- If you want a clue at how the Braves might draw in Cobb County, the Gwinnett Braves, the team’s Triple-A franchise, is struggling in a brand-new stadium in suburban Atlanta. They have the worst attendance figures in all of Triple-A.
- Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun wants to stay in Milwaukee, but he’s open to a trade if one happened.
- Pitcher Bartolo Colon wants to re-sign with the Mets next season and R.J. Anderson says they should do it.
- Adam Rubin calls Colon’s return “a no-brainer.” Colon, for his part, says he’s going to keep pitching until the Expos are back in Montreal where they belong! And then he’ll become the next Youppi!
- The Twins are considering former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos as their new President of Baseball Operations. That would be a huge break for the Twins, who have not hired anyone of significance from outside their organization since Andy MacPhail in 1984.
- Dave Brown interviews Twins rookie Max Kepler about baseball, Berlin and ballet.
- Jason Linden has a terrific profile of baseball lifer Hernan Iribarren. If you want to know what goes through the mind of a guy who has spent 15 years chasing a dream that is so close and yet so far away, take a look.
- Astros infielder Alex Bregman is the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year.
- Braves rookie Dansby Swanson hit his first career major league home run—and it was inside-the-park.
- And finally, Angels pitcher Jered Weaver almost pulled a “Randy-Johnson-killing-a-bird-with-a-pitch” maneuver. Except he didn’t actually hit the bird. And it wasn’t a bird, it was a really big dragonfly. And instead of a 98 mph fastball, it was a 76 mph whatever from Weaver. First as tragedy, then as farce.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.