Saturday, July 28, 2007

Two Tickets to Cooperstown

After the baseball strike baseball was at it's lowest moments. People were rediscovering other activities to pass the time rather than watch baseball. Baseball fans were getting older and the next generation of would be fans were bored with the sports' pace and purpose. Columnists across the country were proclaiming baseball was no longer the national pastime. Along came Cal Ripken. Cal Ripken's pursuit of Lou Gehrig's streak gave baseball the shot in the arm it needed at precisely the right time. Ever since that point, baseball has been on the upswing. Cal Ripken saved baseball. It might sound like overstating the importance of his record, but if you think back about the atmosphere around baseball at the time, this is no understatement.

Today as we get nearer to perennial jerk Barry Bonds breaking one of baseball's treasured records baseball finds itself dealing with its biggest problem of the last decade. Barry Bonds is the poster child of the rampant cheating in baseball through use of steroids. So as we get closer to Bond’s breaking the record, we are reminded of the things that made baseball great over the years as two of MLB’s class acts are inducted into the Hall of Fame today both having received 98% of eliible votes.

Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn are throwbacks to an era when players played in one city their whole career and came to the park each day and played the game like it was meant to be played. Neither player was flashy, but both brought a consistency and professionalism to the game that people respected and admired.

Tony Gwynn was a career .338 hitter that once hit .394 in a season. Tony was an 8 time batting champ, a four time gold glove and one of the more remarkable feats that you wouldn't associate with Tony was he had 319 career steals including a National League record five in one game.

Cal Ripken in addition to breaking Gehrig's once thought unbreakable record was an all star 19 times, MVP twice, 2 Gold Gloves and hit 431 homers in his career mostly while playing short stop.

So as much of the sports sections will be devoted to Bonds over the next few days, it is good to see Tony and Cal get their due by being honored by the HOF.

Congratulations Tony and Cal!

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