It’s apparently mandatory to interview Cal Ripken

14 Comments

Jets won. The Yankees, though not without their problems, managed a split and remain in first place. Not enough muck to rake this morning, apparently, so Raissman of the Daily News goes after YES Network for not interviewing Cal Ripken:

According to an MLB source Ripken’s PR man John Maroon e-mailed media outlets in Baltimore and New York informing them Ripken would be available during the game. WCBS-AM, the Yankees’ radio flagship, requested an interview.

“For whatever reason,” the source said. “YES had no interest in talking to Cal.”

The “reason” really doesn’t matter. Any would only be a lame excuse. Like a dog swallowed YES’ extra mike and it didn’t have one for Ripken. Or maybe on a night where the Yankees were battling the O’s for first place in the AL East, YES honchos didn’t want the ultimate symbol of Orioles baseball in their broadcast booth.

Or maybe, just maybe, they decided that, like most ex-athletes, Ripken didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say. Or maybe YES decided to keep its focus on a September baseball game between two teams in pitched battle for the division title.

I realize that Cal Ripken is an immortal and all of that, but he’s not exactly hard to find or unavailable for interviews. I’m struggling to see how YES not taking up a PR man’s pitch for an interview with the guy is some sort of media faux pas.

And that’s the case even though it was the night of his statue unveiling at Camden Yards. I mean, how many opposing team broadcasts interviewed Yankees legends on nights their plaques were unveiled in Monument Park?

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.