The Washington Post

Ripken too ‘selfish’ to be Nationals manager?

(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Cal Ripken Jr. has made it clear that he’s itching to get back in the dugout as a manger, and Thomas Boswell thinks the Nationals should at least interview the Orioles legend.

Not everyone agrees, though. One commenter, @Sufferinglocal, pointed to Ripken’s record consecutive games streak as a reason he shouldn’t get the job:

Cal has a great image and he was a legit Hall of Famer as a player but he was also very selfish and that’s not a good trait for a manager.

While Cal was definitely hard-working, he was also all about The Streak and it’s legacy and that’s not putting the team first. The reality is that plenty of players have long playing streaks but they don’t because taking a day off a couple times a year is a GOOD idea, good for both the player and the team.

But Cal never did that. It was always The Streak, and thus Cal, over the team. As a result, he played on a lot of under-achieving and bad teams. When you’re team’s best player is a me-first guy, it sets a tone and impacts the team’s performance. That’s on Cal and that’s why the O’s made three playoff appearances with Ripken.

Cal may know baseball as well as anyone out there but the Nats need a manager who is all about the team and not all about the manager. And that rules out Ripken.

Boswell pretty much wrote a second column in response, saying that to call Ripken’s streak selfish is “the most bogus rip in sports.”

From age 28 through 41 Pete Rose played in 99% of his team’s games, an average of 160.1 per 162. And he hit .311 (higher than his career .303) over those 14 years. He had 200 hits seven times, hit .331 at 38 (163 games) and .325 at 40 (played 100% of Phils games). That wore him out so much he only hit .321 in 14 post-season series and .344 at age 42!

Rose played through injuries, just like Cal. Strictly BY ACCIDENT, he never quite had a huge consecutive-game streak. But he NEVER “took a day off” in his career. With a little better luck on the few times he did have to miss a game with minor injury, he’d have been past Gehrig’s 2,130 record in 1982.

NOBODY ever said it was “selfish” of Rose to play every day. Nobody ever said he hurt his teams by never taking a day off when he was older than Cal when Ripken stopped his own streak at age 37. IOW, it wasn’t a hot button for jealous or illogical thinkers. Nobody inside baseball thinks that a player with a history of durability and high productivity would be “better” by taking one, two, three or four days off in a 162-game season. Those stars, and I could name 20, ride out their slumps. In his 1st 18 yrs (>2850 games), Eddie Murray played in 97% of all games. A third of those that he missed were w 1 real injury.

There’s one difference with Cal. He is rated the fourth-best defensive player in history by defensive WAR. He once made three errors in a full season at SS and had astronomical assist numbers (range). So, even when he was in a slump he had more value to his team, because of his glove, than players like Rose. So there was even less reason — NO reason — for him to take a day off.

IOW, Ripken wasn’t selfish. He followed the same rule of thumb as every Garvey, Bagwell, Jeter (150g 13 times) and Hank Aaron (played 97% of team games in first 14 full seasons). For durable stars, one day off means NOTHING. The Streak is great. There’s nothing wrong with it. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. It’s the most bogus rip in sports. JMHO

Let us know what you think about Ripken as a manager in the comments section below. Why not keep this debate raging all day?

Bowden: Nats have long talked about hiring Ripken
Adam Oates on transitioning from HOFer to manager
Dusty Baker interested in Nationals job



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Adam Kilgore · October 10, 2013