Did the Los Angeles Dodgers' Chan Ho Park “groove” a fastball for Cal Ripken at Tuesday night's All-Star Game in Seattle? Maybe, but who cares? Ripken's dramatic home run was long on drama and emotion, and if Park was making it a little easier for a baseball legend to go out on a high note, we can live with the transgression.
Ripken was appearing in his 18th and last All-Star Game. He and fellow superstar Tony Gwynn have announced their retirements at the end of the current season, and Major League Baseball made both the center of attention at the game in Seattle. But it was Ripken who seized the moment.
The man who obliterated the great Lou Gehrig's “iron man” record by playing in 2,632 consecutive games, Ripken and his chase of Gehrig are credited with saving the game after a players' strike wiped out the 1994 World Series.
Both teams play to win the All-Star Game, but the relaxed smiles and the horseplay suggest they don't take it all that seriously. If Park gave Ripken a pitch he could drive out of the park, so what? It was an exhibition game that had no effect on the standings, and it was his peers' way of saying, “Cal, you've been great for the game. Here's one more memory.”
Ripken and Gwynn are not done providing magical moments. Five years from now, when both become eligible for the first time, they will enter the Hall of Fame together.