Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-5-3

Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Top of the 1st
Each morning I read numerous newspapers, some literal, some virtual. I read the stories and look at their placement – above the fold, below the fold, front page of the sports section, inside the sports section, or in rare circumstances page one of the paper. I think we all have a pretty good sense as to what page one story might be.

That’s why I was surprised when the story that fell under the headline, “Gehrig Voluntarily Ends Streak at 2,130 Straight Games” was on page 28 of the New York Times of May 3, 1939. The Times used to fold their sports section into one of the two sections of the newspaper and this was the lead on the sports page.

It shows you how big baseball, and sports in general, has become as a business, entertainment, and pop culture entity in today’s world. On September 21, 1998, Buster Olney’s New York Times article entitled, “After 2,632 Games in a Row, Orioles’ Ripken Sits One Out” was page one news.

Here’s how James Dawson wrote the lead in the Times that May day:
“DETROIT, May 2 – Lou Gehrig’s matchless record of uninterrupted play in American League championship games, stretched over fifteen years and through 2,130 straight contests, came to an end today.

The mighty Iron man, who at his peak had hit forty-nine home runs in a single season five years ago, took himself out of action before the Yanks marched on Briggs Stadium for their first game against the Tigers this year.

With the consent of Manager Joe McCarthy, Gehrig removed himself because he, better than anybody else, perhaps, recognized his competitive decline and was frankly aware of the fact he was doing the Yankees no good defensively or on the attack. He last played Sunday in New York against the Senators’.

When Gehrig will start another game is undetermined. He will not be used as a pinch-hitter.

The present plan is to keep him on the bench. Relaxing and shaking off the mental hazards he admittedly has encountered this season, he may swing into action in the hot weather, which should have a. beneficial effect upon his tired muscles.”

Here’s Olney described the end of Ripken’s streak:
“BALTIMORE, Sept. 20 – Cal Ripken, who had not missed a game since 1982, removed himself from the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup here tonight after playing in 2,632 consecutive games.
Ripken walked into the office of Manager Ray Miller about half an hour before the Orioles’ game with the Yankees and said, ”I think the time is right.”
Ripken’s staggering feat of endurance, credited with helping baseball regain the loyalty of its fans three summers ago when he broke Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games, officially ended when Rafael Palmeiro grounded out to complete the Orioles’ 5-4 loss to the Yankees.
After the final out, Ripken, 38, shook hands with his teammates as photographers descended upon the Orioles’ dugout. He then walked onto the field and into the nearby box seats to hug his wife, Kelly.
”I don’t feel a sense of relief,” he said at a post-game news conference. ”I don’t feel much different. Now that I know what it feels like, I don’t want to sit and watch a game anymore.”
Ripken said that he and his wife had talked last Thursday about ending the streak and that the time was right today, in the Orioles’ last home game of the season.
”It was very important for us to do it here,” he said. ”Right here in Baltimore, right here in Camden Yards. And make it a celebration.” “
John Kiernan ended his column on May 2, with these words:
“But his greatest record doesn’t show in the book. It was the absolute reliability of Henry
Louis Gehrig. He could be counted upon. He was there every day at the ball park bending his back and ready to break his neck to win for his side. He was there day after day and year after year. He never sulked or whined or went into a pet or a huff. He was the answer to a manager’s dream. And from what is appearing here and elsewhere today, the proper conclusion must be that the sports writers have long looked on Lou Gehrig with affection and admiration.”

The Times chose to salute Ripken on it’s editorial page:
“Ripken Finally Sits One Out

No matter how many home runs Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa hits this year, that record is going to be easier to match than Cal Ripken’s. On Sunday, Baltimore’s indestructible infielder finally scratched his name from the lineup after playing in 2,632 consecutive games, ending a streak that began early in Ronald Reagan’s first term, survived eight Oriole managers and continued longer than most baseball careers.
Ripken’s record is important, though it takes a moment to figure out why. It is obviously less meaningful — in terms of skill and fan-pleasing excitement — than the home run record, or Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Ripken’s accomplishment is more mundane. He is the kid with the perfect attendance record, the guy who shows up for work every day, the player you don’t have to worry about when everyone around him is complaining.
That Ripken was good at his job simply adds another dimension to his durability. A sure-handed shortstop, he was named the American League’s most valuable player twice and was selected for the All-Star game 15 times. Ripken also helped rescue baseball from its funk after a strike shortened the 1994 season. Interest in the game revived as he began closing in on Lou Gehrig’s mark of 2,130 consecutive games, and when he broke that record he inspired a celebration not surpassed until McGwire set a new home run record two weeks ago.
As Ripken’s range, power and speed diminished, he was switched to third base, and there are those who argue he hung on too long in a meaningless effort to pad a consecutive-game record that he had already put out of reach. A more likely explanation is that he just couldn’t stand the idea of sitting on the bench.”
I read the news.

Top of the 2nd
Is there anything more surprising than the first-place Cincinnati Reds this young season?

Javier Valentin’s line drive single cleared the drawn-in Cardinals infield and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th yesterday, giving the Reds a 3-2 victory and a two-game sweep of St. Louis. Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion added solo homers for the Reds (19-8), who have the best record in the majors. The last time Cincinnati has stood alone atop both leagues this late in a season was June 30, 1992, when the Reds led their division by 2