Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Streak

"I hate The Streak.
There. I said it.

I know it's blasphemy. I know I'm going to hell just for thinking it.
But I hate The Streak."

-Eric Neel

I think the very fact that published an article (albeit a negative one) about Cal Ripken's streak almost 10 years after he broke Lou Gehrig's record and almost three years after he has retired speaks volumes about why fans think it was an important accomplishment. And here are a few other things Eric Neel failed to address in his column:
  • Cal Ripken was taking the field and "doing his job" everyday in an era where professional athletes from all sports were being paid millions of dollars to simply warm the bench. Sports fans were disillusioned with cry-baby athletes who whined about every ache and pain, and increasingly distanced themselves (or much worse) from the fans, while the fans themselves were paying higher ticket prices to see mediocre talent. Cal Ripken was a true role model, especially for the younger fans. As I'm typing this, I'm having trouble thinking of a current, active professional athlete who I would want my daughter to admire.
  • Fans also knew that once Ripken broke The Streak, it would be the end of an era. Never again will we see a consective-game streak from any of today's athletes. Never again will we see an athlete play for one team for his entire career, (especially not his hometown team).
  • Ripken's desire to play did not, as Neel believes to be the truth, "cost him, the Orioles and the fans." We have Peter Angelos to thank for that, not Cal Ripken.
  • Speaking from very personal experience, I honestly believe that Cal Ripken single-handedly saved baseball in 1995 by pursuing The Streak. How many fans would have tuned in at all following the strike-shortened 1994 season?
  • Neel fails to address any of the same criticism or venom toward Lou Gehrig. Does he feel the same way about Gehrig, even though the same thoughts usually come to mind when his name is mentioned?

Baltimore sports columnist Peter Schmuck has his thoughts here (The Baltimore Sun now requires free registration - sorry).