It might not have surprised anybody outside of Baltimore when Cal Ripken didn't win a Gold Glove last year. But it offended the man who has the biggest collection.
"I won 16 Gold Gloves," said Brooks Robinson, the Hall of Fame third baseman, "and when Cal didn't win one last year it took some of the glitter off what I had accomplished.
"It's incomprehensible to me that he could play every day and make three errors and not win the Gold Glove. And that's not meant to take anything away from Ozzie Guillen [who won the award] because he's a very good shortstop.
"Cal is not as dazzling, not as spectacular, but nobody plays the position like he does. Nobody puts as much thought into playing the position. He's the best I've ever seen when it comes to playing the hitters, and I think that's the reason his defense is overlooked."
Ripken has set fielding records and led the league in various defensive departments throughout the nine years that he has played shortstop (beginning July 1, 1982), but has never won a Gold Glove. Last year he went 95 consecutive games without an error during a season in which he made only three errors in 680 chances.
"He doesn't fit the mold of a shortstop," said Robin
son, "because he's not small and flashy. The defensive part of his game is definitely taken for granted, and it's a shame.
"I guarantee you that if he was playing third base he'd be sensational. No one knows the game like he does. Cal is one of those guys who does everything the way it's supposed to be done. It's something that was probably bred into him. He is the consummate pro.
"He's not as spectacular as some of the others who play shortstop, but he doesn't have to be. Nobody knows more about positioning himself for a hitter. There's a lot to think about when you're playing shortstop, but most guys don't do it -- they just go out and play the position and let their instincts take over.
"Cal has an idea on every pitch to every hitter. I've never seen anyone with the ability to play off the pitcher and hitter the way he does."
And Robinson believes the absence of a Gold Glove is the severe penalty Ripken has paid for his ability to be in the right place at the right time.
"I don't know what the people who vote for the Gold Glove [opposing managers and coaches] could have been thinking about, especially last year," said Robinson. "But I know that the 16 I won don't mean as much."
That's a strong endorsement from the man who practically invented the award.