Now that we know where Robert Bork stands on judicial activism and original intent, let's test his qualifications with a more immediate issue:
Where does he stand on The Streak?
Cal Ripken Sr. comes into Bork's court and says, "Your honor, my kid's bat is in the dumper. He's hitting .225 for his last 110 games, and for this we're paying him $1.1 million. Meanwhile, he has this cockamamie consecutive-innings streak that everyone's yapping about, over 8,200 innings. Maybe I ought to sit him down so he can get a rest. What do you think?"
A) "Sit him down for an inning on the road so the home fans have no say in it, then accuse the media of blowing the streak out of proportion in the first place. But make sure you start him the next day, because he doesn't need a lot of rest, and you wouldn't want to end his consecutive games streak."
B) "You're 412 1/2 games out, and you're worried that your shortstop ought to sit down? Have you considered shooting your pitching staff?"
C) "By all means give him an inning off. While you're at it, give yourself the night off. And tell Ken Dixon to look for a day job."
D) "Wait a while. I've got 12,716 innings in the office pool."
Why would Cal Sr. do this, take Cal Jr. out for one inning in Toronto?
That's rest? It seems more like detention.
"I thought about it for two weeks before I did it to make sure I was doing the right thing," Cal Sr. said. "I wanted to take that monkey off his back. It had become a burden that everywhere he went somebody wanted to write about it. It became a burden to where he couldn't get dressed." (Memo to Jim Palmer: Be a sport, Cakes, lend the kid some underwear until the streak is broken.)
Cal Sr. apparently didn't share this soul-searching with his No. 1 son, because after he was yanked, Cal Jr. said, "I was surprised a little" at being lifted.
Cal Jr. couldn't assess his feelings right then, he needed "time to reflect on it." But Cal Jr. liked The Streak, and didn't think it had affected him. But what could he do? He's a baseball player, he knows the rules. Like he said, "The manager makes decisions and the player abides by them."
Does that sound like a happy camper?
Some people will say that The Streak had to end sometime, and of course it did. But it didn't have to end there, on the road so the Baltimore fans had no chance to demonstrate their emotions. And it didn't have to end then, under the pretext of saving young Ripken from this monstrous hounding by the press. Come on, how many reporters do you think actually go to Orioles games anymore? They aren't as hot a ticket as "Les Miserables," no matter how snugly the title may fit. Of course people ask about The Streak and ask if it's possible that it tired him. This is a "yes" or "no" answer. It isn't as difficult as, say, "Compare and contrast the geopolitical factors that led to United States involvement in the Persian Gulf and Central America." And at $1.1 million a year, if Cal Jr. can't get dressed in the locker room, he can rent a Winnebago.
Hank Peters thought it was "a silly streak" to begin with. I'm told Edward Bennett Williams and Earl Weaver did, too, and at one time or another they were all in favor of ending it. Cal Sr. reportedly resisted.
Maybe it was silly. But as long as Cal Jr. continues his consecutive games streak people will ask about the capricious way the consecutive innings streak ended. The Streak is still a straw man. If Cal Jr.'s hitting improves, people will say all those innings exhausted him. And if his hitting declines further, they'll say he ought to benched completely, forcing another round of streak debate. (Since Cal Jr. can't get dressed and can't hit, maybe the next streak he can make is through Memorial Stadium's infield.)
My own feeling is that there's Freudian tension within the House of Ripken. It's obvious from the fact that Cal Sr. drinks Schlitz and Cal Jr. drinks milk that there's a severe schism there. (It's such a complex world these days. Who has time to remember the difference between pasteurized and homogenized?)
It probably started way back, years ago when Cal Sr. came home from a long road trip and Vi Ripken, who'd had it up to here with the kids, said something like, "Well, if it isn't Babe Ruth. Hey, Babe, why don't you try feeding Junior his vegetables for a change? I'm going out to play canasta with the girls." So Cal Sr. sat down with his son, spooned some squash and beets and lima beans on a plate and said, "Open wide now." Cal Jr. did what all kids do, he flipped the whole plate on his old man's shirt. And Cal Sr., covered with ick, gritted his teeth and vowed, as all fathers do, "Someday I'll get you for this."
Hello 10 homers in Toronto. Sit down, Junior.
Now, where does the rest of the Ripken family stand on The Streak issue? I think you need look only as far as Bill Ripken's locker. It's empty. Billy has taken the rest of the year off. The day after Sr. yanked Jr., Billy allegedly tore ligaments in his ankle. He's not playing for the old man anymore. Seems like a sympathy protest move to me.