Was that “Carl” in the TBS booth last night?

Carl Ripken

Baltimore gets a bad rap.

Our town is thought of by folks outside of the area as a cesspool of murderers, drug dealers and STD’s thanks in no small part to television shows like The Wire and Homicide.

Our football team is labeled a group of thugs because of the public’s misperception of Ray Lewis.

Weather Channel updates show those of Philadelphia and DC but nothing on Baltimore. We’re often thought of as no more than a rest stop during treks between those two neighboring cities.

No wonder we have such a collective inferiority complex.

Well at least our magical baseball team is thought of in a positive light given their remarkable turnaround and of course the stellar reputation of the guy who many believe saved baseball following the 1994-95 MLB strike – Cal Ripken, Jr.

Ripken has been a source of civic pride and is generally considered to be one of Baltimore’s greatest ambassadors.

Until yesterday…

Ripken’s commentary on last night’s Orioles @ Yankees game broadcast by TBS was so pro-Yankees I wanted to vomit.

Here’s our ambassador, a symbol of Baltimore civic pride, a man synonymous with baseball in The Land of Pleasant Living and he puts on a Yankees love fest? The team that is universally considered to be on par with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the most hated and bitter rival amongst Baltimoreans – those Yankees?


A couple of days ago he claimed that Adrian Beltre is the best third basemen he’s ever seen, adding, “Sorry Brooksie.” This isn’t meant as a slight on Beltre at all but let’s do the math – 16 > 3. That’s the number of Gold Gloves Brooks has compared to the 33-year-old Beltre.

Ripken’s “clarification” on 105.7 The Fan seemed like nothing more than an attempt to spin doctor the PR hit on his Teflon reputation. It didn’t work for me although admittedly I’m very pro-Brooks Robinson.

But then it got worse…

Last night love was in the air for Ripken and the objects of his desire were Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and “Tex”. While “Tex” fails to take charge on a pop up that falls to the infield, instead of chastising the Yankees for what could have been a major blunder, Ripken criticizes Mark Reynolds for not being on second base after the miscue.

Look I get that Ripken probably wanted to play the role of the impartial analyst. But he seemed so hell bent on being impartial that he came off as being pro-Yankee in a big way. And given his status in Baltimore, that’s just inexcusable.

When analysts like Shannon Sharpe, Michael Irvin, Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Tom Jackson, Bill Cowher, et al show partiality on a national stage for their former teams, why should Ripken be any different?

Maybe TBS was right the other night when they referred to Cal as “Carl Ripken, Jr.”

He seems like an imposter anyway.

20 Raves on “Was that “Carl” in the TBS booth last night?

  1. Lourena Lamb Short on said:

    I think I’m the biggest Cal Ripken, Jr supporter and fan. After all he is my husband ;-) My real husband Frank and I had this exact discussion he is bending over backwards not to show partiality to the Orioles and is forgetting where he came from :-( Hello Mr. Ripken, we get a bad wrap from most of the announcers on the sports show and from the broadcast booth too. Please remember where you came from and who made you as popular as you are today and show Baltimore and it’s fans a little RESPECT!!! Thank You….signed your wife….Mrs. Ripken ;-)

  2. Shas on said:

    How can you criticize the Yankees for dropping that Reynolds pop fly? The way the grass is cross-cut in Yankee stadium it causes tricky wind currents to spin up, and when the dew point is between 60° and 64° this unusual updraft causes the ball to slightly wobble on the way down, making it impossible to catch. It’s subtle. But if they replay it in super-slow-mo 18 times in a row maybe you’d see it. And besides, if you were ever a big leaguer like Carl, you would already know this. Reynolds should have known this.

  3. Luke on said:

    When Cal said that Adrian Beltre is a better 3rd baseman than Robinson, he was 100% correct.

    Beltre is 33, in the prime of his career, and has already approached the same career value as Brooks Robinson did in his 23 seasons.

    Career WAR- Beltre 61.1, Robinson 72.7

    Offensive WAR- Beltre 42.8, Robinson 42.3

    Defensive WAR- Beltre 22.1, Robinson 38.8

    Seasons with a WAR of 5+ (considered a true all-star level among position players). Beltre-6 Brooks-5

    Beltre is not the defensive 3rd baseman that Robinson was, but he is still darn good defensively. You can make a very valid argument that, aside from Robinson, he is the 2nd best defensive third baseman of all-time since his DWAR through this stage of his career is already ahead of guys like Rolen and Schmidt.

    Without debate, Beltre has been the better offensive player. If you look at the 19 seasons where he played in more than 50 games, only once did Brooks exceed an OPS+ of 125. By contrast, 9 times (nearly half of his career) he had an OPS+ lower than 100, meaning he produced less offense than the average major leaguer.

    As a comparison, Beltre in 15 seasons, has had 4 seasons of 130 OPS+ and 5 seasons with an OPS+ lower than 100.

    The end result is that Beltre has produced the same amount of Offensive WARs in 8700 career plate appearances as Brooks did in 11,800 times at the plate. That’s pretty concrete indication that Beltre was a good bit ahead of Brooks as an offensive player and Brooks edge with the glove isn’t enough to offset that advantage.

    The real statement that Ripken should have made was that Beltre was better than any third baseman he’d ever seen, including Schmidt. With 103 career WARs, Schmidt is the gold standard for third basemen, not Robinson. I don’t know one reputable baseball source that doesn’t rank Schmidt as the best 3rd baseman of all-time. Saying that Beltre is the best that Cal would have seen is a bad statement, since he would have seen Schmidt and Brett. However, Beltre being better than Robinson is fairly factually sound.

    Beltre and Robinson are both pretty obvious Hall of Famers, but Beltre is the more complete player, and assuming his level of play stays similar to what we’ve seen recently. Given his last three years of play (WARs of 7.4, 5.6, and 6.7) there is no reason to think it won’t, which will allow him to clearly eclipse the career value of Robinson.

    You don’t think of Beltre as a Hall of Famer at first glimpse, but he clearly is using the four factors of evaluation that are used.

    1) His qualitative stats are almost already there (2227 hits, 346 hrs, 1215 RBIs). 3000 hits, 450 homers, and 1500 RBIs are all very realistically within in reach. I don’t think his stats are all that “era inflated” either since the bulk of his career was spent in pitcher friendly parks in LA and Seattle.

    2) Assuming he reaches two of those three plateaus above, he will be a slam dunk HOFer using the “plateaus” evaluation scale (not as big of a factor now with the sabermetric tools we have available).

    3) WAR is going to be a big factor in HOF evaluation heading forward. It helped to get Santo into the Hall finally this year. It’s very realistic to project that Beltre will have a career WAR of at least 75-80 by the time he retires. That would put him into the top 40 all-time among position players (keep in mind that there nearly 140 position players already in the HOF). Of all position players with a WAR over 75, only Rose, Bagwell, and Griffey Jr. are not in Coopertown—and Bags and Griff are guarantees to get in within the next 2-3 years.

    4) If you break it down to the most simplest form, you have to ask yourself is Adrian Beltre one of the top 10 third basemen of all-time. If your answer is yes, there is no way you can excluded him. I think you can make an argument right now that he is definitely one of the top 10 in both offensive production and defense. Quite possibly, by the end of his career, you can argue that he will be in the top 6-7 offensive 3rd basemen of all-time (with Brett, Mathews, Home Run Baker, Schmidt, and Boggs) AND the top 5 defensive 3rd basemen of all-time. That’s a pretty ironclad set of proof that he is a HOFer and a more complete 3rd baseman than Brooks.

    There’s my baseball rant for the day….back to football.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      He did say “DEFENSIVE” 3rd baseman, not player right?

      Brooks got the most out of his physical skills and clearly his offensive numbers would be better in the modern era given the size of parks, shorter mound and the juiced baseball. I wonder how Beltre’s numbers would suffer if he played in Brooks’ days and couldn’t afford to dedicate himself to an extensive offseason training regimen and instead had to venture into other distracting business ventures to be a provider for his family.

      But playing the position, regardless of the era, IS comparable and as a 3rd baseman, Brooks had no peer including Mr. Middle-Atlantic Milk Man.

    • Shas on said:

      You forgot the biggest factor. Beltre is 33, but Brooks is 75. So that alone probably gives the edge to Adrian. ;)

      When I listened to Ripken explain his comments, his argument pretty much stuck to defensive comparisons; he gave the edge to Beltre based on the argument that today’s athletes are better conditioned and therefore Beltre is getting to tougher chances and making them look easier– whereas Brooks made easier chances look difficult because he was so hampered by his 20th Century body.

      Obviously not a direct quote, but that was the gist I was getting from Cal as he explained himself.

      I saw Brooks play and I don’t think it’s a fair statement. Cal certainly knows what it takes to play the position better than I do, but Cal of all people should give more credence to knowing where to position yourself and playing with good instincts and solid fundamentals — rather than putting so much emphasis on athletic prowess.

  4. Bill on said:

    I still like Cal even though he was dry humping the collective Yankees leg. You can be swayed by the pretty girl, but remember the girl next door is the real keeper.

  5. Ravenwoman on said:

    Baltimore Commandment # 1: Never say anything bad about John Unitas or Brooks Robinson. Ever!!! Both of them were the best there ever was in their respective sports and the best that will ever be!!

    I can’t believe Cal could be so stupid, not to know this. Cal could have praised Adrian Beltre in a way that would not have been disparaging to Brooks Robinson. All he would have had to say was that in this era of baseball, meaning the last 10-20 years, Adrian Beltre is one of the best third baseman around. Then if the question came up “Is he better than Brooks Robinson?”, then he should have said “No, Brooks was the best fielding third baseman ever and his 16 Gold Gloves confirms that fact.” I am sure his comments were heard by Brooks and I am sure he was very hurt by them, especially, since he had known Brooks all of his life and attended the statue unveiling. If I were Cal, I would call Brooks personally and apologize. He used very poor judgment and his standing in the Baltimore community really took a hit.

    For the record, as far as announcers are concerned, there is no better baseball analyst than Jim Palmer who runs rings around Cal Ripken. Jim has a critical eye for the game and knows how to express himself in a way that is constructive.

  6. Richard on said:

    And I thought I was the only one who noticed the b ll licking of the *&%#$ Yankees. Thanks for this article, Tony. The first night, I cringed every time he opened his mouth, wishing he would just shut up, and what blasphemy was he going to say next? I now think of “Carl” in a different light…. a black light, and I will forever wish he had not been commentator for this series… The “sorry Brooksie” quote made me throw up in my mouth..;. not a little, a lot!

  7. Fran the Fan on said:

    While he’s at it, Carl can get rid of that purple tie, too. A little too “homey” for some tastes. Somebody from Western PA might object….

  8. Pat on said:

    This is why Brooks will always be the greatest Oriole ever……..on and off the field. Cal has finally showing his true colors. Just ask Kelly.

  9. Sean on said:

    Thanks for posting this Tony. David Zurawik, that bozo who reviews sports media for the Baltimore Sun is embarrassing himself with his idiotic praise of Cal’s TBS performance. Par for the course for the Sun. At least there is one person in this town with the guts and integrity to call Cal out.

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