WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - -Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. has known New York Yankees All-Star Alex Rodriguez for 16 years, but the two have not spoken since Rodriguez admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers.
But when they do, he has one question.
"I really want to know why," Ripken told the audience at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's Men's Night Out banquet Thursday.
"I'm going to make it my business to find out."
Ripken avoided the topic of steroids during his 40-minute speech but was later asked about baseball's black eye.
"The steroid era really puts a dark cloud over baseball," Ripken said. "And that dark cloud is hanging and hanging."
Ripken said he believes the problem is getting better and "the willingness to suspend Manny Ramirez" is proof.
Ripken often speaks to youth groups as a special envoy for the U.S. State Department promoting teamwork and cross-cultural communication, and he has written several motivational books. He said when young people ask him about steroids he turns the question around.
"My question to them is, 'What do you think about it? I really want to know if you think it's right or do you think it's wrong?' " he said. "They think it's wrong, which makes me feel good."
Ripken met with the Jupiter Diamondbacks, the 2008 winners of the 12-and-under Cal Ripken World Series. Ripken's theme during his speech was reviewing the eight elements of perseverance - the right approach, strong will to succeed, passion, love to compete, consistency, conviction, strength and life management.