The curse of the Ripkens

Cal Jr. on Billy's bat and the problem with fame

February 02, 2011|By Laura Vozzella, The Baltimore Sun

Cal Ripken Jr., baseball's Mr. Clean, aired a little dirty laundry on a radio quiz show.

Appearing on NPR's "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!" last weekend, Ripken was asked about the infamous 1989 baseball card bearing the image of teammate-brother Billy Ripken holding a bat with an obscenity scrawled on the end.

The Ironman went on to reveal that Billy isn't the only Ripken who knows how to curse.

Peter Sagal, host of the show, asked Ripken if he ever gets tired of living up to his good-boy image.

"Does that ever get to be a drag?" Sagal asked. "Do you ever, like, want to go out and behave really badly, but you can't because you're Cal Ripken Jr.?"

"The answer to that is yes," Ripken said. "I'd like to be able to behave really badly and not have it matter. … I'm OK with being out in public, except when you get in a fight with your wife or you get in a fight with your kids or your daughter calls you a name and storms off and you feel pretty helpless to do anything."

Faith Salie, a panelist on the show, piped up: "Did she call you the name that was on the bottom of your brother's bat?"

"Sorry," Ripken said. "My daughter's name is Rachel. Sorry, Rachel, but yes, she did."

The obscenity in question was one that could not be uttered on public radio, nor printed in a family newspaper. But listeners were told that it ends in "face."

"This is a clue that'll mean a lot to a public radio audience," Sagal noted: "It is an alliterative phrase."

You're in good hands …with a CPA

Kent Schwab, an Allstate Insurance agent with four offices in and around Baltimore, sends a monthly e-mail to customers with helpful hints.

"I always try to give noninsurance tips: 'Hey, we got a new cell phone law,'" he said. "Halloween safety tips. How to deep-fry a turkey."

(The last of these was more insurance-related than you'd think. It was really, "How to deep-fry a turkey without causing a fire." But I digress.)

"I'm just trying to reach out and add more value to my clients via e-mail," Schwab told me.

That explains why Schwab recently sent 5,000 customers a message entitled: "54 Safe and Legal Deductions to Save On Taxes."

He added even more value with a follow-up e-mail five days later: "Please disregard #11, #40, #45, #47, #48 and #49. These are no longer valid deductions."

I don't think they were ever valid deductions. They included such things as political contributions and face-lifts.

Schwab said he didn't come up with the list himself. He uses a service to issue his e-mails, and it sent the message before he had a look. From now on, he said, he'll read the e-mails before they go out.

"I learned from that oops," he said.

Snow priorities

Ed Goodpaster, former national editor of The Baltimore Sun, sends news of efficient snow removal. Not by city crews, mind you. (My two-way street in Southwest Baltimore remains, as of this writing, a single lane a week after the big storm.)

"Many of those who live high enough above what I still call the football field at Johns Hopkins University probably could not give you the name of the current president, but they do know how you spell "power" at this center of learning," Goodpaster e-mailed me in the wake of last Wednesday's storm. "It's P-i-e-t-r-a-m-a-l-a, as in David, the lacrosse coach.

"The school is closed today, some areas still snowed under, but across University Parkway at Schelle Pavilion there is a pool of green turf. The smaller plows are still scooting around the field, cleaning up patches of white, but most of it was dispatched during the night. The goals are in place for a practice that undoubtedly will come later today.

"When I went to bed about 11 p.m. last night, the plows were running on the field, trying to keep even with the falling snow. … It was an easier task than last year, when the lights were kept on for part of one night to help the plows find the way and the plowing stretched over two nights.

"By my check of the Hopkins schedule, they don't open the season until Feb. 19 and don't even have a full-fledged SCRIMMAGE until next week. But practice began on the 17th, and I gather the coach does not like interruptions."

When I bounced that off Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea, he was concerned that people might take that snow-removal report the wrong way.

"Just to be clear… it ABSOLUTELY is NOT that the campus grounds crew (which plows the lots and clears the sidewalks) is giving special attention to lacrosse at the expense of their other work," he e-mailed me. "Not at all!!!!

"The plowing and clearing of the athletic facilities is done by the athletic department's own personnel, including, as I recall from last year, management personnel. I know that Bill Harrington, director of recreation and facilities in the athletic department, spent a lot of his own time in the saddle of the tractor last year to keep Homewood Field clear."

I don't care who's clearing the snow on the lacrosse field. I just wish the city would hire them.

Connect the dots …

The sign outside Dunbar High School does not inspire confidence: "Failure is not and option." … Southwest Airlines is promoting spring travel with this slogan: "Go to your happy place." Sound like copyright infringement, hon? … Hopkins is screening two short films about food systems, produced by the school's Center for a Livable Future and the Maryland Institute College of Art, Thursday. "BFED" is about the city's "food ecology." "Out to Pasture" explores sustainable animal farming. (Details at" Leo Horrigan of CLF produced "Out to Pasture" and writes: "[P]lease help us spread the word about these films, as our multimillion-dollar promotional budget has strangely gone missing."

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