Who’s On Base?: Ripken, Pedro, Everett, Nomar

By John A. Poole
Updated: February 21, 2008

Cal Ripken Jr. Pedro Martinez Carl Everett Nomar GarciaparraGLEN BURNIE, MARYLAND — The baseball community received a blow of reality on Monday evening around midnight when Cal Ripken Jr. told the world his intentions of retiring at the end of this 2001 season. Cal Ripken has been the heart and soul of an Oriole team for many years. In 1982, he came to the Orioles and immediately made an impact on the league by winning the Rookie of the Year award and, in 1983, he beat out teammate Eddie Murray for the AL MVP. It’s been an extraordinary run and the baseball community will be at a loss for a great sportsman.

Ripken’s reputation has come from his consecutive game streak that ended at 2,632 games. It’s an unimaginable streak, especially for an infielder. Consider that there are 162 games in a season, not including the post season. So, divide 2,632 games by 162 games in a single season, and what do you get? 16.2 straight seasons without breaking a bone, tearing a hamstring, getting the flu, or getting spiked by a runner sliding into second, trying to break up a double play. It’s something we may never see again in our lifetime, just like Hank Aaron’s 755 home run record.

Although the streak is what made Ripken’s career popular, there are 7 other offensive stats in which Ripken ranks in the top 30 of all time: Games played: 2,989 (8th) At-bats: 11,500 (4th) Runs scored: 1,638 (29th) Hits: 3,159 (13th) Doubles: 604 (12th) Home runs: 427 (28th) RBI: 1,687 (18th) The Orioles are in the middle of a rebuilding process and are trying to make themselves younger. Right now they are at a crossroads that has them wondering what it will take to win. Ripken has always been a team player, and so realized that at this point he can no longer benefit the team in the same way. He said that he’s looking forward to being able to spend more time with his family. “The reality is that players cannot play forever,” Ripken told reporters during his press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Ripken will be leaving with his numbers on the decline, but that is not unusual. Great players like the Giants OF Willie Mays and Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer are examples of players who played too long in the major league.

Although athletes cannot play forever, legacies can be carried on for generations to come. Ripken’s legacy has definitely been firmly planted at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. Since 1982, he has been a role model for players on the field and for many families off the field. All we can say is thanks, Cal, for the memories and great ideals that have been portrayed over the years. You will definitely be missed.

Well, even though Ripken announced his retirement in Baltimore, people were starting to rejoice in Boston. Nomar Garciaparra has finally started practicing again and Pedro Martinez has been given the o.k. to pitch Thursday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Nomar has been sidelined since the beginning of the season and everyone in Boston has been waiting for the chance to see Nomar and Manny Ramirez in the lineup at the same time. With those two batting behind one another and with Carl Everett and Troy O’Leary, the Sox lineup will be stacked.

It looks like Mariners just may turn out to be human beings. They lost a game against an American League team this week for the first time in 14 games. To top that off, they lost 2 straight games! That makes the best record in baseball, at 52-16, and it is still 9 games better than Minnesota and the Chicago Cubs, who are both sitting at 41-26. The back-to-back losses were the first time that has occurred to Seattle in over a month.

The Mariners are on pace to win over 110 games this season, which will be incredible if you consider the losses to the team. Losing Ken Griffey, Jr., Randy Johnson, and Alex Rodriguez would make most teams fold like paper. The remaining Mariners players, however, have used this as an inspiration to play the best baseball they have ever played in any of their careers.

In the National league, the two biggest stars right now are Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling. Everybody in the world who watches sports knows what Barry Bonds is doing, but some may not know that Curt Schilling is 11-2 with 2.76 ERA. Schilling is having the best season of his career so far and with Randy Johnson on the same team, it makes for a very formidable combination. Right now, the Diamondbacks are in 1st place, five games ahead of the surging Giants, who have finally figured out how to win when Barry homers in a game.

At present, Barry has 36 home runs and is still ahead of Mark McGuire when he hit 70 home runs. Bonds says he is trying not to get caught up in the hoopla surrounding the home run race, but when that is all that is talked about, it makes it very hard. Bonds has never hit 50 home runs in a single season but could easily have 40 by the All Star break. As I mentioned before, Bonds will definitely hit a slump before the end of the season, but it will be how quickly he rebounds from that slump that will determine the remainder of his season.

On a quick final note, I’d like to say congratulations to the Miami Hurricanes for their victory in the 2001 College World Series. The Canes beat Stanford in the final game of the World Series and ended a tremendous run. Once again, congrats on a great season!

Please continue to check back with “Who’s on Base” as we look at second place teams and what they will need to do to make a move to the top.