Ripken Media Session, 5/19/95, New York
PICKED UP IN PROGRESS WITH CAL ANSWERING A QUESTION
A:"We all have nagging injuries. We all have a certain amount of injuries we play with all the time. I'm no different from anyone else in that regard. But, I have been fortunate and lucky enough to stay away from the tricky injuries or the ones that might cause me to miss a game. I feel fortunate in general about my whole life about my whole baseball career. It just follows along the same lines that I was fortunate that I'm able to go out and play. I was fortunate to establish my career early on where I'd be an everyday player. That was the most important thing and now staying away from injuries and the manager wants to put you in the lineup and all of the sudden your playing all the time. I'd rather be playing out there than sitting over here."
Q: Does it cross your mind when you walk to the plate that you've got a lot of wild, right handers out there?
A:"I think whether we have a consecutive game streak or not you always think about that. It's just games within a game all the time. Intimidation sometimes is part of a pitcher's success or effective wildness, as you might say, or whatever else. You have to overcome those types of things all the time anyway. In order to be successful, you have to put that out of your mind and say, 'I've got to hit this guy'. Sometimes it makes you concentrate a little bit better. The worst thing you can do, in my opinion, is try to play easy so you don't get injured or think about you might get hit with a pitch that you won't be able to hit. I've always thought your best defense against injuries is to go out and be prepared, be ready to play full force/full war because if you do that, your system is protected against all those small, little crazy things that happen."
Q: (On comparing himself to Lou Gehrig.)
A:"I was out there for "Sports Illustrated" two years ago. I tried not to look at it or read it as being illogical but the only comparison that can be made is that we share a desire to play, a desire to be out there and the fact that we have this consecutive game streak. There can be no comparison saying who was better hitter and to all of us it's obvious that Gehrig was one of the greatest players to play the game. I can't, none of us can compare my career to that. We just share the desire to want to go out and play, maybe a work ethic or maybe a love of the game too. For a long time, I've tried not to learn about him or... I've tried to curb my curiousity so it wouldn't effect the way I approach the game. I think it's important that you maintain the same desire and the same approach each time you step on the field and I've been pretty good at doing that and hopefully I'll still be able to do that. I try not to learn about it. People make the assumption that they'll give me a book or give me an article or they'll give me a card or something and I accept them and put it away. And someday when it won't effect my approach I'll actually be able to sit back and read them and not worry about them."
Q: (On preparing as a player, what values, what importance does this streak have?)
A:"I don't know. I've had difficulty understanding what the meaning of it is. Maybe I don't allow myself to. To me, singularly to me, I was brought up to approach the game as a team game. And when you play it 162 times a year, when you play a full season, it's the consistency you bring to each and every game that constantly you have to count on your teammates. It's an individual game as we all know, no one's going to help you at the plate, no one's going to help you with a ground ball tipped to you, but if you put all those individual performances together as a team then you win. As the shortstop rely on the second baseman or the third baseman. In the batting order, you rely on the guys ahead of you to get on. So, you're constantly counting upon someone who has had team success. My Dad instilled in me very early that it's important in a team game to go out there and be there for the team. You might not get the game winning instance to win the game but you might guess right on a hit n' run in the third inning that keeps you out of a big inning instead of them getting on first and third you've got it and you win the game by one run, you've contributed to the win. And it's important for stability reasons or for whatever reasons to be out there in the lineup so from a team approach that's always been my approach. You always ask yourself each and every day what can I do to help my team win that particular day. It's always been important to go out there and be in the lineup. That's why I continue to go out there and do it, not for any other reason."
Q: Do you ever feel yourself working more toward people like Gehrig or guys that have accomplished great things themselves and kinda' see what they've been going through and relate it to what your going through?
A:"I don't know. All those things were performance driven...from the 56 game hitting streak, the chasing of the home run title, to me, mine is just being able to show up and play. Again, I downplay it but I don't know of the full meaning of what the streak is. So, there's no additional pressure to continue to go out there and play, to perform. In my lifetime, I've seen Pete Rose's hitting streak from a distance and the pressure that seems to gather seems unbelievable. It seems to build, in my particular situation sure you have to perform and still you have to do things to warrant being in there, to warrant the manager putting you in the lineup, but by no means is there any kind of pressure that builds. So, therefore I have difficulty comparing. I have difficulty understanding the accomplishment at first and then secondly, I have difficulty comparing it to someone else. It's just simply the desire to want to be in the lineup and I've been lucky. That's about it."
Q: So far this year even with all the attention you've been able to go out on the field, do the interviews, and play the exact same game or do you find any lapse of concentration because of the streak?
A:"I don't know. Maybe it's too early to tell. I know that it's different. I know I sense it's different. I try to guard my practice time very carefully. You always want to make sure you get your ground balls in, your hitting...You want to make sure your concentration is where it should be and try not to let this whole thing become a distraction to the individual or probably worse yet, a distraction to the team. That's a big concern. I don't know how it's going to happen or what's going to happen as the year goes on but I'm going to try to do it the best I can. Any suggestions you might have?... (Press laughs)."
Press Comment:"Break the record and the next day sit down."
Cal Reply:"That's the answer."
Q: What kind of reception can you hope for here? Who knows if it's good or bad? Maybe someone doesn't want you to break it (record) for some reason? This is Gehrig's crowd.
A:"I don't think about it in that regard. I think about tonight's game and we're coming into a place that's one of the most exciting places to play. As an opposing player, it can be loud and imposing for a team. It can be 10,000 people in here. It can be 20,000, or 50,000 people in here and that adds to the excitement of the whole place. To me, it's that the focus should be on the game. The focus should be on who wins the game, what the game situation is. My individual situation; I don't even think in those regards."
Q: So it doesn't even come in your mind coming into this building (Yankee Stadium)?
Q: What's the thought that there might be some negative views out there? Do you read your mail or do you avoid it?
A:"I haven't had that question before. I don't have my pad answer for that one (Press laughs). The mail, fortunately enough, has been at such a high level that it's been difficult for me to answer personally anyway. I try to develop a system where I can be as accommodating and responsive as I can but, truthfully, I can't read all of the ones that come to me. I haven't purposely stayed away from it for any of those kind of reasons. I read a good section of them and respond to every one that comes to me. I haven't avoided that kind of thing for any negative reasons. I haven't seen any negative things yet either."
Q: Have you ever encountered any streak of any kind in any sport, not necessarily baseball... Is there a streak of any kind that has really taken your time/attention without bringing yourself into the equation?
A:"Baseball is a great game but the pace is pretty slow. Physically it's not as demanding as some of the other sports that we watch. Basketball, hockey or something that is physically grueling... To be out there and be able to string together some games or whatever else that would be a lot more..."
Q: Are you aware of any streak...a basketball or hockey streak?
A:"I am not. Maybe I block that out as well but I can't think of any one in particular."
Q: Assuming you break the record, do you think it's going to be the same? Are you going to play everyday because you love to play?
A:"That's a hypothetical question but I'd like to think that if that happens and things would go along the next day would be the same as the day before and the next day after that would be the same day in the same way. Again, I come out in the simplest form. I want to play. I want to be in the game. The second thing is, are you healthy enough to play and contribute? The third thing is, does the manager want you to play? And if there's yes's to all those questions then, I'll be in the lineup."
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