MLB columnist tries to argue that Ripken isn't MLB's Ironman

May 04, 2011|By Matt Vensel

There’s no debating that Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2,632 consecutive games, an incredible streak that spoke volumes about the shortstop’s dedication, durability and caliber of play.

The sports world stood still as Ripken took the field at Camden Yards for his 2,131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995 and broke the record Yankees great Lou Gerhig had held for 56 years.

And even if we had somehow missed that night and the hundreds that came before it and there was a legitimate question about the identity of the standard bearer for one of the most celebrated records in sports history, those 2,632 box scores would be pretty compelling evidence in support of Ripken, right?

Not for Terence Moore, a columnist for MLB.com and a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In a recent column for the league’s website, Moore made an example of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is one grand slam away from tying Gerhig’s record career mark of 23.

“This is Gehrig's record, and there is nothing that Rodriguez or anybody in future generations can do about it,” wrote Moore, who explained that Gerhig’s grand slams were simply more “magical” and that “Gehrig has been the Grand Slam King for more than 70 years, and longevity counts for something.”

I’m not buying Moore’s logic on this one, nor am I when Moore uses the same rationale to argue that Hank Aaron’s single-season and career home run totals make him the all-time Home Run King. I would have went with the performance-enhancing drugs angle, though I guess Barry Bonds adding about 150 pounds of muscle after he left Pittsburgh might be considered simply magical by some Bonds apologists.

Then Moore really went off the grid with Ripken (and no, he didn’t cite the Kevin Costner conspiracy).

“You may recall that Gehrig also earned his nickname as ‘The Iron Horse’ by playing in a record 2,130 games before succumbing to a bizarre muscular disease that eventually was named in his honor,” he wrote. “His record for that playing streak lasted 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr., kept going and going before snapping it in 1995. ... Nothing against Ripken Jr., but Gehrig remains the standard bearer for that record, too.”

With all due respect to Gerhig, who was forced to retire at age 36, but Ripken’s run lasted 502 games longer, and it certainly wasn’t lacking in the magic department. Maybe Moore will appreciate it a few decades from now and realize that a new standard bearer has held the Ironman record since 1995.

And I can think of 2,632 reasons why it’s foolish to argue otherwise.

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