THE ISSUE NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT, WHAT TO DO ABOUT CAL?
As the possibility of replacement baseball approaches,
debate about how Cal Ripken's consecutive games streak will and
should be treated is heating up. In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark
writes, "The more we think about poor Cal Ripken, the more it
gives us the shakes." Although AL President Gene Budig has yet
to rule on the situation, Elias Sports Bureau's Tom Hirdt says
the issue is "fairly simple": "It seems to me that if they play
games that count, the streak would end." Hirdt points out that
forfeits count as losses, "not mere non events" (PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, 3/12). Tom Carter, statistics editor of THE SPORTING
NEWS, is responsible for determining criteria for records
published in The Sporting News Complete Baseball Record Book. He
hasn't made a final decision on how to rule on the streak.
However, Carter is "leaning" towards continuing the streak if the
O's refuse to field replacement players and forfeit the games.
Carter says if MLB fields a team for the O's, the streak will
come to an end. Carter also said he will "probably" abide by any
decision made baseball officials (Buster Olney, Baltimore SUN,
3/12). Budig on the streak: "It's under very, very active
review. Major league leaders past and present are being
consulted on the issue" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/12). TIME's
Steve Wulf said breaking the streak "would be the blackest mark
in the history of baseball. Blacker than anything that the 1919
White Sox did and blacker than anything Pete Rose did" (ESPN,
THE BOOK: The 1995 AL Red Book features pictures of Ripken
and Gehrig on the cover, "the two seemingly gazing at each other
from across time." AL VP for Administration and Media Affairs
Phyllis Merhige: "I know I took a chance; I knew it was going to
be controversial. But I felt I had to acknowledge that it was
going to be a big story this year. Either way, it's the story of
the year. Either he breaks it or he doesn't" (Murray Chass, N.Y.