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Terence Moore doesn’t believe that Cal Ripken is the true consecutive games played record holder

May 4, 2011, 8:39 AM EDT

Cal Ripken

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a pretty significant voice in the game about baseball records, accomplishments, history, legacy and that sort of thing. During our conversation, the idea of who “The real home run king” truly is came up. While we didn’t agree on all of the issues that went into that — the impact of steroids, the virtues of the modern era vs. Golden Era, etc. — we did agree that the qualitative notion of who was “the best” or whose feats, in one’s own subjective view, was greater, doesn’t have to match up with the record book.

For example, I can say, even as a noted Barry Bonds apologist, that I consider Hank Aaron’s accomplishments to have been more impressive than Bonds’. I can do this by weighing, subjectively, the eras in which they played, what I think I know about their drug use, the pitching environment in which they tried to hit, their background and all of that. At the end of that I can say that I think Aaron was the more impressive player and man. My personal taste would not be to call him “the true home run king,” because such titles are loaded, but I can place him higher in my personal hierarchy than Barry Bonds, regardless of what the record book says because — as I argued a couple of weeks ago — the record book merely records, it doesn’t value.

But even if you engage in that kind of subjective exercise — which you should, because a fixation on the record book makes you lose sight of a lot of great baseball stuff — you can take this line of thinking too far.

For example, you can take it as far as Terence Moore took it in his MLB.com column yesterday when he said that not only does he consider Hank Aaron the Home Run King, but he won’t acknowledge Alex Rodriguez as the all-time grand slam leader when he passes Lou Gehrig. Or that — and this is the most controversial — that he doesn’t recognize Cal Ripken’s consecutive games-played streak.

Why? Because, Moore argues. They don’t have “it”:

This goes beyond the fact that A-Rod joins Bonds as one of the primary faces of the Steroid Era. This is about the following: Gehrig and Aaron just have “it” when it comes to those records. You can’t describe “it,” but you can feel “it.” … You may recall that Gehrig also earned his nickname as “The Iron Horse” by playing in a record 2,130 games before succumbing to a bizarre muscular disease that eventually was named in his honor. His record for that playing streak lasted 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr., kept going and going before snapping it in 1995.

Nothing against Ripken Jr., but Gehrig remains the standard bearer for that record, too.

There’s a difference between making a historical assessment as to the impressiveness of given accomplishments on the one hand and denying the legitimacy of anything that happened since you were a kid on the other.  Moore is doing the latter based on his calculation of “it.”  And, later in his column, when he declares that the actual records lack “zing.” Whatever the hell those things are.

And this man draws a salary from Major League Baseball. And has a Hall of Fame vote. I find that rather depressing.

  1. schmedley69 - May 4, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    Ripken’s streak took on a life of it’s own and was detrimental to the team, IMO. I lived in Baltimore during Cal’s entire career, and there were more than a few people who thought that the Orioles would have been better off if the streak ended. Ripken had a couple of great, MVP years, but if you watched him everyday throughout the 90’s he was not a great player. The streak was a great individual feat, but it was a feat of endurance, not a feat of skill. If I were picking my all-time team, Lou Gehrig would be a lot higher on my list than Ripken.

  2. leftywildcat - May 4, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Several of the above comments prompt me to mention two things I usually keep in mind:

    1.) When Maris broke the Babe’s single season record for HR’s in 1961, it was an expansion year. The AL had just expanded from 8 teams to 10, and so the pitching quality had just been diluted. In the 1990’s, when McGwire broke Maris’s record, even with all his steroids, it was again an expansion year and pitching quality was again newly diluted. If statistics are to be re-measured, that has to be taken into account, too.

    2.) Among the many reasons the “Golden Era” is called that, was because HOF-caliber players and many near-HOF-caliber players spent all of their prime years with just one team. Mantle, Williams, Kaline, Killebrew, Mays, Snider, Aaron, Musial and Mathews to name a few position players; Ford, Spahn, Koufax, Roberts, Marichal, and Gibson to name a few pitchers. Players were loyal to their team, fans were loyal to their players and teams. And no one had to agonize over which hat to wear in the HOF. Free agency was an undiscovered horror — someone mention the flex-capacitor?

    • ratstick - May 4, 2011 at 10:39 PM

      It’s hard to call it “loyalty” when the player had no choice but to play the team that held his rights. Loyalty can only exist when the player has a choice of where he can play. I love when a player spends his career with one team (George Brett is my all-time favorite, and both he and Schmidt were one-teamers), but pre-free agency, loyalty was an irrelevant concept.

  3. macjacmccoy - May 6, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    I dont see how what hes saying is really all that different from what your saying. You just dressed your arguement up better by qualify it first with a long preamble about why what your about to say is different then what he’s saying, but it isnt. You two are basically saying the samething thing but just using different words about different subject. You think Aarons was more impressive and he thinks what Gherig did was more impressive or in his words more of a zing to it. The points the same just different words. Your acting like hes saying what Ripken did didnt count but I bet if you talk to him thats not what he means at all. Your just making a snap judgement on what the guy meant and attacking him for it bc of I dunno maybe some past prejudice against the man or his arguement.

    I dont think either 1 of you guys opinions are wrong. Its fine that you think what 1 guy did was more impressive then another even if the records say otherwise. Because I feel the same way about alot things like when it comes to sports records and history. I just dont like how you attacked the guy for doing the samething your doing while acting like what your doing isnt the same.

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