As I sit here in the press box (well, the press “lounge”, where the Baltimore media sit and watch the game) at OPACY and prepare to follow Game 2 of the Orioles-Yankees, I browse through four days worth of email to see if I missed anything important before filing a bunch of them away in the trash folder.
Eleven different people, most of them either late Friday or over the weekend, reached out to me about a topic so near and dear to their hearts that one writer even said, “If I saw (him) in person, I’d tell him to go f— himself. Right then and there.”
I’ve seen other complete maniacs over at Orioles Hangout offer asinine comments like, “Cal is now dead to me” and “There’s no way he should have said that about Brooks just one week after his ceremony in Baltimore.”
If you’re still in the dark, let me enlighten you. And for those of you offended by what Cal Ripken Jr. said last Friday night on national TV, pull up a chair and I’ll teach you a thing or two, also.
During last Friday’s Orioles/Rangers playoff game, Cal Jr. remarked that Adrian Beltre is the best defensive third baseman he’s ever seen. He quickly added, “Sorry, Brooksie”.
Way to go Cal.
The eleven emails that reached me since then have all basically said the same thing: “Not only is Cal wrong, but he shouldn’t ever dismiss Brooks Robinson like that on national TV.”
For starters, do you people not understand what it means to say, “I think”??
When you say, “I think Adrian Beltre is the best defensive 3rd baseman I’ve ever seen” that simply means you are stating YOUR opinion on the matter. Do you think you’re right? Of course you do. But does it make you a bad guy if you believe, for example, that Led Zeppelin’s “In through the out door” was better than AC/DC’s “Back in Black”? I don’t think so. It just means you have a belief. (By the way, I’m going with Zeppelin on that one.)
“Cal is now dead to me…” wrote one nitwit at Orioles Hangout. “Dead to me…” Really, for what, being a draft dodger or getting caught selling dope or firing a gun into his leg at a nightclub and going to jail? Oh, I see, Cal is “dead” to you because he offered an opinion contrary to your own. OK then.
No wonder our country is so F’ed up.
Let me continue this mini-tutoring session by saying this, too: Cal is not very good as a live in-game TV analyst. Bill Ripken was MUCH better as a baseball player than Cal is at doing this kind of stuff we’re watching now on TBS. I know Cal is a great baseball mind. He forgot more about baseball than me, you and everyone in our respective neighborhoods will ever know. But that doesn’t mean he can translate that on the air to an informative, interesting live TV broadcast. It’s also worth mentioning that John Smoltz isn’t very good at it, either. It’s not easy to do, mind you. Those two just happen to be two excellent ex-ballplayers who are just barely-above-minor-leaguers when it comes to analyzing the action in a live environment.
So, while I don’t find Cal very captivating on TV, I don’t have any problem with his right to state an opinion. If he believes Beltre is better than Brooks, I’ll listen to his reasoning.
All the stat geeks will bring out the numbers about how many errors Brooks made as it relates to Beltre…and those statistics clearly reflect that Brooks was superior IN THE ERRORS department. But that’s it, huh? We’re just going to say “Brooks made less errors than Beltre, therefore he’s better” and leave it at that? Fair enough. You can do that. But astute baseball people who know the game have their opinion and are welcome to broadcast it.
And this silly notion that Ripken somehow should have backed off from saying something to dismiss the quality of Brooks’s career because of his statue ceremony last week…it’s…well, it’s just dumb to say that.
I can hear the question on national TV now as play-by-play man Ernie Johnson tries to fill a dead minute or two last Friday.
“Hey, Cal, as we sit here and watch the Rangers, Adrian Beltre is having a terrific season both at the plate and in the field. As a guy who knows a thing or two about playing third base, how would you rate Beltre’s career?”
“Well, you know Ernie, I’d love to answer that question for the millions of people out there. But, you know, the guy we’d ultimately compare Beltre to is Brooks Robinson, the ex-Oriole, and he was just in Baltimore for the unveiling of his statue and it’s probably better if I don’t give you my opinion because I don’t want to offend Brooks while he’s still enjoying his special moment in Baltimore. Maybe next season I’ll answer that one.”
So, let me get this straight. We ONLY want to hear Cal Ripken’s opinion when it somehow doesn’t ruffle OUR feathers. OK, that makes sense.
What if, last night, Cal Jr. would have said, “I’ll tell you what, you can have Robinson Cano on your team and I’ll take Adam Jones. Cano is a nice player and all, but Jones is a much better hitter and just a better player to have, even though they play different positions.”
You would have been OK with that one, right?
It’s amazing how easy it is to wind you folks up. I’m not suggesting Cal would do that. I don’t think he knows how to play the “heel” role.
But it just takes one comment from a broadcaster and your whole world is turned upside down.
Tonight, do yourself a favor and watch the game for what it is. Don’t listen to the broadcasters. Pay them no attention. Just sit back, relax and watch it all unfold.
That said, if these three decide to start pointing out blemishes in Manny Machado’s game, I’m gonna throw something at the TV I’ll be watching here in the “press box” at Camden Yards.