Cal Ripken and The Streak show that self-interest is a...


August 08, 1998

Cal Ripken and The Streak show that self-interest is a vital 0) team player

"There is no 'I' in team," says Jim Westwater ("Time to end The Streak," Aug. 2), as if he were uttering a profound moral truth. However, Mr. Westwater is caught in an ethical time warp, unable to transcend the ancient prejudice that every self-interested person must be out to enrich himself by stealing something from the group.

What Cal Ripken teaches us every day -- not just in words but in actions -- is that individual self-interest is entirely consistent with the interest of the team. Indeed, a team without "I's" would win nothing and inspire no one.

Those who want to end Cal's streak just for the sake of ending it are acting on the off-quoted Japanese adage, "The nail that sticks up will be hammered down." Like children who push a well-dressed boy into a mud puddle, they want to cut Cal down to size, show him what happens when your virtue makes you stand out from the crowd.

Here is one fan who refuses to join in the envious cries to teach Cal a lesson. I am too busy enjoying the one he is teaching me.

Thomas A. Bowden


I read with great interest the well-documented article written by Jim Westwater.

Mr. Westwater's comments are quite poignant and very much to the point. He mentions that there is no "I" in the word "team." I would like to add, however, that there is an "m" and an "e" in this word.

Lloyd L. Temple Jr.


Jim Westwater has got it all wrong. Imagine if we could place an ad for a player like Cal Ripken.

"Help wanted:

"We're a Baltimore-based Major League Baseball team looking for a hard-working, industrious, enthusiastic third baseman. Must willing to play every day, provide clutch hitting and leadership to younger players and be a good fielder.

"Image is critical. Our fans love the Oriole Way. Our ideal candidate is a home-grown family man who will make his home in Baltimore year round. With a stellar reputation who can put fannies in the seats at home and on the road. Autograph-signing a plus."

Like Mr. Westwater, I'm an aging (50 years old) runner who hasn't missed a day of work. Last weekend, I ran my fastest 5K time in more than 10 years. If you're running 3 miles in 35 minutes, it's time to take the bus.

Running guru George Sheehan said it best: "We are our bodies. Our bodies are us. And we must love this life physically and at the top of our powers."

Ed Kierman


The writer is vice president and general manager of WBAL-AM and WIYY-FM.

Jim Westwater's stinging indictment of Cal Ripken's selfishness could not be further from the truth, but it is something I could expect from a Yankee fan.

Mr. Westwater fails to ask and answer some key questions such as: How would benching Cal make him a better player? Who on the Orioles is a better third baseman? In the past, who would he have played at short or at third?

Cal Ripken invokes the best in a lot of people, but his success brings out the worst in jealousy from a few. Some view his streak as a threat. By example, Cal shows us that we can get to work, do a great job, make a great living and do it often and reliably. This thwarts and threatens the few who call in sick at the first cough or the first nice day of spring. They will never understand the determination it takes to become great.

Cal's streak will end one day, and an era will come to a close. I hope it will last several more seasons and go for more than 3,000 games.

Oriole fans should be appalled that The Sun would give such prominence to a one-sided, negative article by a Yankee fan.

Arnie Abel

Owings Mills

After reading the article by Jim Westwater, I felt compelled to offer a dissenting view: Leave Cal Ripken alone.

I was glad to hear, his New York Yankee allegiance nonwithstanding, that Mr. Westwater takes pride in knowing "something about" baseball and that he has enjoyed following the careers of many of the greatest names in the sport during the past half century. I was also impressed by his own "personal streaks" of not posting a sick day in 28 years and missing only seven days over 26 years as a runner.

However, while Mr. Westwater was quite adept at presenting statistics pointing to Cal Ripken Jr.'s numbers decline in recent years, he failed to mention or suggest one player by name who could have stepped in and done a better job offensively or defensively at any time during The Streak.

Further, to suggest that Cal is selfish by staying in the lineup is to overlook the nagging injuries the future Hall of Famer has quietly endured to take his requisite at-bats, field consistently at third base and try to make a difference.

About 12 years ago, I had the privilege of competing against Cal in a charity basketball game. What I remember most about that game was the team play of Cal. He'd pass up the chance to shoot the ball if a teammate had a better scoring opportunity. He appeared to relish a situation in which he was tested defensively even more than making a great shot.

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