On and off the field, Ripken always at his best Cal...

LETTERS

October 14, 2001

On and off the field, Ripken always at his best

Cal Ripken's retirement ceremony on Oct. 6 was super in every way. The painting, the statue, the renaming of Lee Street to Ripken Way, and the speech by President Clinton praising Cal were wonderful tributes to the Iron Man, whose No. 8 jersey was fittingly retired.

It was obvious that the revelation of the special plaque -- placed by the Orioles on the dugout wall to honor his father -- touched Cal very much.

Cal's speech at the end was short, but he said a lot. He expressed the hope that how he played and conducted himself on the baseball field and elsewhere were good examples that had a positive effect on others in sports and in the community.

He hoped he could be remembered not for being an individual star but for being someone who demonstrated teamwork, loyalty and hard work, and that his simply being here and always doing his best would be his contribution toward the betterment of the world.

What Cal said in his speech is, indeed, the way we'll always remember him. On the field and in the community, we always saw Cal at his best.

Laura D. Lynn Baltimore

Ripken is Hall of Famer, but he's not a true hero

Let me start by stating that Cal Ripken was a great ballplayer. With that said, let's make it clear, he is no hero.

This is a man who has made millions of dollars for playing a game nine months a year.

During the time he has played this game, at least 15 Baltimore City police officers have been killed while protecting the city. These were the true heroes during Cal's playing years.

These officers' combined salaries would have been less in their lifetime than Cal made in one year.

While Cal certainly deserves accolades for his baseball accomplishments, everyone has to remember, all he did was play a kid's game. I do not remember him ever risking his life while working, to save another.

Cal Ripken is a Hall of Famer, but he is no hero.

Steve Kay Odenton

`Cheesy' farewell tour was an embarrassment

Leave it to the organization that is the laughingstock of professional sports to make its fans glad that the Cal Ripken farewell tour is over, thanks to overhype and over-production that bordered on satire.

It was so bad, so cheesy, so self-important, at least a visit from Siegfried and Roy with a Siberian tiger dressed in a No. 8 jersey and a little cap would have transformed it into the true Las Vegas-style production it was trying to be.

You can't blame Cal, although one wonders why a man who was so understated in his career wouldn't tell the organization, "Hey, please don't embarrass me."

It was embarrassing, but we live in a sports age where a guy makes a routine special teams tackle and reacts as if he's just won the Super Bowl, where a guy dunks a basketball in the last seconds of a blowout game and preens for the cameras, when style has completely overtaken substance. This was a ton of icing with no cake underneath.

Cal was one of the last of a dying breed because he was always more substance than style and because he never felt the need to swagger or hot dog it like so many of today's athletes.

So how bizarrely ironic was it that after his last game he had to be subjected to a post-game production that made the cheesiest of Las Vegas shows seem understated and the worst dinner theater production of Annie Get Your Gun seem entertaining? For that reason alone, I am glad that the farewell tour is mercifully over.

Jeff Adams Winchester, Va.

Kerrigan, Anderson show no class in Oct. 6 game

I can't believe my eyes.

With Cal Ripken on deck and the fans chanting, "We want Cal," Boston Red Sox manager Joe Kerrigan proved he has no class and had reliever Ugueth Urbina pitch to Brady Anderson, instead of making the obvious nice gesture and intentionally walking him.

The game meant nothing. Why not let Ripken bat one more time? The fans would have gone nuts, Ripken would have one more chance to thrill the fans, and everyone would have loved baseball a little more.

Incredibly, instead of trying to work a walk, Brady swung at the first pitch, and finally whiffed on what was probably ball four, a high fastball the ump would never have called him out on.

Hey, Kerrigan, when you get fired, no one in Baltimore is going to shed a tear. And Brady, you could learn a little about class yourself.

Jeff Mariner Towson

Anderson deprived Ripken in final game

I want to comment on the shameful performance of Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson during Cal Ripken's final game Oct. 6.

With Ripken poised to take the final at-bat of his career, Anderson made the choice to rob the possibility of that ever happening from Ripken and the fans. His own selfishness to look like a hero on a night to honor a real hero was disgusting.

The plate umpire was even calling the final pitches of the game balls when they should have been called strikes to get Ripken to the plate. Even with the fans chanting, "We want Cal," Anderson, with one final swing, stole that wish from becoming true.

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