Friday, May 06, 2005

I Call As My Next Witness

Mister Ray Ratto, from San Francisco. (Thanks to WFY for the link)

He writes a hagiography of the esteemed Frank Robinson. And, like I said yesterday, it's stunningly devoid of content relating to how he actually is.

Sample graf:
But then you look at manager Frank Robinson, face of the franchise, and the kind of guy who does the Hall of Fame honor by letting himself be included, and with all that, you come to the realization that rooting for the Nationals might not be such a bad idea after all.

Even Tom Boswell would be ashamed to write that.

I'm not saying you have to punch the guy in the face or rip him a new sphincter when writing about him. But, the only sort of coverage you get of him is references to his dignity. That's well and good if he's in the front office as an ambassador for the team. But how does that help the team on the field, which is what his true job is?

It's sorta like the orgy of coverage that always surrounded Cal Ripken. Living in Baltimore a few years, I learned to hate him. He was covered as a spiritual being rising above all else. Just the sheer force of his will caused animals to flock to him and lepers to be healed. (Too bad he couldn't do anything about Mobtown's VD rate!)

What irked me so much about all that was the the beatification overlooked something important: Cal Ripken was a pretty freakin' good baseball player. And that had NOTHING to do with the streak. Instead of focusing on the amazing things he was doing with the bat AND glove, everyone focused on the intangible aspects creating THE IRON MAN. But, that's missing the bigger picture -- a true example of missing the forest for the trees.

And, the glowing coverage of Frank, who I'm sure IS a good person and given what he's been through deserves respect, ignores the same important aspects: Is he a good manager and is he the right fit for the team?


  • Ratto is a Bay Area version of Tony Kornheiser, so "devoid of content" is pretty close to the mark. I actually think that "Norman Chad" is Ratto's wacky alter ago, but I don't know exactly how I got that impression.

    By Blogger Basil, at 5/06/2005 10:04 AM  

  • Amen, brother, on Cal Ripken. I held Orioles season tickets from 1991 to 1998 and came to the same conclusion. Plus he was looked to as a leader, and did absolutely no leading, on or off the field. The turning point: 1996, when Robbie Alomar spits in a ump's face. Where was Cal to say that such behavior was not the "Oriole Way"? Nowhere. My view is the Cal worship kept that team from achieving anything worthwhile for about a decade.

    By Blogger DM, at 5/06/2005 10:25 AM  

  • Ready for the T-Bos chat?

    By Blogger Brian, at 5/06/2005 10:44 AM  

  • I don't know, DM. I think it's one thing to be sick of Cal worship, but another thing entirely to correlate it with any kind of on-field effect. "The Streak," maybe, though I'd say the worst of it was fairly early when it started gaining notice, like 1990 or '92.

    Re: the Alomar-Hirschbeck thing, I can't remember what, if anything, Ripken said about it. I do know, though, that it happened on 9/27/96. Two games later, they began a playoff series against the Indians, who had the best record in the league, and the O's beat them. Baltimore certainly didn't fold in light of the controversy. I don't know if Ripken gets credit for it, but he sure doesn't get the blame.

    I know there are myriad stories of Ripken's hypocrisy or his demands for special treatment, or whatnot. All I know is that if his legend is fake, then it certainly wasn't by his doing---and if he's a first class jerk, he's done well in hiding it.

    [And, yes, I'm biased. He's one of my favorites. He was on Bob Edwards's XM show two weeks ago, and I sat in the car for ten minutes before going in to work just to hear it all. (I don't want him anywhere near the Nats' front office, though.]

    By Blogger Basil, at 5/06/2005 11:12 AM  

  • Basil, fair points, and I don't deny that Ripken was a great player and a justified HOFer, nor do I say he was not worthy of respect and admiration for those skills.

    The problem, as I saw it, was that the Orioles and Baltimore placed way too high a value on him, happy to remain a under-achieving club with "Cal in town", especially in the later years.

    By Blogger DM, at 5/09/2005 4:36 PM  

  • Fair enough, DM. I agree there, no doubt. Also, I'll note a weird "year behind the ball" kind of thing that occurred late in his career.

    In 1998, he had a pretty bad year, but he was still "the great Cal Ripken." In 1999, the media caught up to his down year and trashed him, despite the fact that he hit .340 (though he did miss time with injury). In 2000, the media caught up to the fact that "OMG this guy hit .340 last year!" and barely noticed a pretty poor year. And so forth. :-)

    By Blogger Basil, at 5/09/2005 6:29 PM  

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