Barry Bonds should play tomorrow if the manager wants him to play. He should play if his team feels that, with his bat in the lineup, they have a better chance to win. To "pre-blame" Barry Bonds for deliberately stealing Cal Ripken’s thunder by tying or breaking the most hallowed record in all of sports tomorrow (because, let’s face it, no one in Baltimore really cares if Tony Gwynn’s thunder is stolen) is ludicrous at best- at worst it’s darn near psychotic!
Maybe we should blame Barry Bonds for ever playing on Sunday because, technically, Sunday is the Lord’s day and we don’t want anything to overshadow our devotion to God Almighty. In fact, you could argue that Cal Ripken is selfish for being inducted on a Sunday and maybe even all of baseball is selfish for playing games on Sunday.
I’d also like to talk about Saturday, September 10th. I would prefer no one break any records on that day because it’s my birthday and I really want the day to be about me. Should Barry Bonds get hurt tonight and land on the D.L one game short coming into September, I hope he’ll have the courtesy to stay away from my birthday.
Enough with the anti-Bonds stuff already. Let’s deal with this very simple reality. Bonds is quite possibly the greatest baseball player who’s ever played the game and Cal Ripken might not even be the best ball player going into the Hall of Fame tomorrow. Has anyone bothered to look up Tony Gwynn’s numbers lately?
I know. I know. He’s just a slap hitter who made contact. Hm. Well, he finished his career with a .459 lifetime slugging average. That’s eight points higher than Cal. Ripken blows him away in home runs, of course, but Gwynn has more triples, walks, stolen bases, a higher on-base percentage and would have had more hits and runs scored except he played around 600 fewer games than "Iron" Cal. Oh and, yeah, Gwynn the slap hitter batted .338 lifetime, folks! He’s in the top twenty all-time. He’s ahead of guys like Stan Musial, Eddie Collins, Willie Mays, Joe Dimaggio and Honus Wagner. In fact, he’s only two points behind Lou Gehrig and six points behind Ted Williams. The man could freakin’ hit.
Oh yeah, and let’s talk fielding for a moment. Gwynn has five Gold Gloves to Ripken’s two. Plus he’s a fifteen time All-Star at a position (the outfield) where competition is stiffer than it is at shortstop.
I love Cal Ripken. He did wonders for the milk industry, Esskay and the Orioles. He’s a classy guy and one of the great shortstops of all time. He deserves everything he’s getting. The consecutive games played record alone is enough to get him into the Hall standing on his head. But let’s leave Bonds alone on Sunday. If he plays and ties the home run record. So be it.
Oh, and one more thing…
If you asked Cal Ripken whether or not a guy should take a day off from work, what do you think he would say?
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