As if there were any doubt, Cal Ripken was voted the starting shortstop for the American League in the 62nd annual All-Star Game in Toronto on Tuesday.
For the record, he will become the first shortstop from the league to start in eight years, surpassing Joe Cronin, who started seven years while playing for the Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators during the 1930s and early '40s.
"This is the best first half I've ever had so that makes this one different," said Ripken, who leads the league in batting and is among the leaders in 11 offensive departments.
"It's more special than some of the others because there is no real controversy over whether I deserve to start as there has been some other years."
Ripken has been voted the starter seven times, finishing second to Detroit's Alan Trammell in 1988. Trammell had to withdraw because of an injury.
He has twice led the American League in ballots, but this year finished second to Seattle outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. by a little less than 200,000 votes.
"It doesn't matter to me whether I'm first or not. You get that many votes [2,060,109] you still feel good," he said.
His eight straight starts are also a Baltimore Oriole record for any position.
"I've had other halves comparable, like the second half of '83," said Ripken, referring to his Most Valuable Player season. "But being over .340 right now is a little surprising. Maybe it exceeds my capabilities, I don't know."
Ripken is only 3-for-20 (.150) with one extra-base hit (a double) in his previous All-Star appearances. All three of his hits have come in American League parks.
"The double wasn't a pretty one, so I haven't done well," he said. "You want to perform in any situation, so I'd like to get more hits."
And how does he like hitting in Toronto? "So far, so good," he said. "The Kingdome has been a good park for me."
Er, Rip, it's in the SkyDome.
Ripken said he is unfazed by the records.
"I guess it's like the consecutive games streak," he said. "You don't sit down to reflect upon it."
Manager John Oates asked rhetorically, "Who else is going to start at shortstop?"
Cal's brother Bill finished fifth in the voting at second base. No other Oriole was close to the top.