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MLB.com columnist disses Cal

Let's start this off by saying that MLB.com columnist Terence Moore is an old friend of mine from my baseball beat writing days, and he's a good guy. But I'm going to have to call him out on his column yesterday about the validity of some of baseball's most hallowed records, in which he somehow reached the conclusion that Cal Ripken's record of playing in 2,632 consecutive games record was somehow less impressive than Lou Gehrig's 2,130.

Moore was trying to make the point that in the case of some records -- the example he started with was Lou Gehrig's all-time grand slam record, which is soon to be broken by Alex Rodriguez -- will always belong to the previous record holder because of both the circumstances and character attributes of the players involved.

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He wouldn't have gotten my attention if he had simply said that Hank Aaron's 755 homers was more meaningful than Barry Bonds' 762. I'm with him on that. Aaron played in an era of pitching so great that they lowered the mound to make the game more competitive in the late 1960s. Aaron also didn't pump up his muscles with banned substances to make it easier to clear the fences.

Moore's main point was that Rodriguez may cruise by Gehrig on a certain page of the record book, but he will never replace Gehrig in the annals of baseball history. Where he went too far was when he ended his column by injecting Ripken into the discussion and made the case that Gehrig still deserves to be recognized as baseball's reigning iron man, because Cal didn't have the same level of overall accomplishment and personal charisma. Here's his rationale:

You may recall that Gehrig also earned his nickname as "The Iron Horse" by playing in a record 2,130 games before succumbing to a bizarre muscular disease that eventually was named in his honor. His record for that playing streak lasted 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr., kept going and going before snapping it in 1995. Nothing against Ripken Jr., but Gehrig remains the standard bearer for that record, too.

MLB.com columnist disses Cal

I shouldn't have to give Moore a history lesson, but the last thing Lou Gehrig had was "it." He was a quiet, serious guy whose image in the minds of most living baseball fans was formed by Gary Cooper's depiction of him in the movie "Pride of the Yankees." He didn't have an ounce of charisma, but he gained legendary status because of the horrible disease that ended his terrific baseball career and took his life...and the grace with which he handled that adversity.

Gehrig also gained iconic status because he played for the Murderer's Row Yankees, was one of the truly great offensive players in history and because he played in a city that was -- and still considers itself -- the center of the sports universe. I'm guessing that if Gehrig had spent his career in Detroit, he would not have had a movie made about him and we would not be having this conversation.

We can have a discussion about the legitimacy of ARod's likely grand slam record, because he admitted to taking steroids while he was pounding out some of those grand slams. The notion that Ripken's consecutive games streak is in the same category is simply ludicrous. Not only did Ripken break Gehrig's record playing a much more demanding position during the era of more demanding coast-to-coast travel, he broke it by 502 games!

Sorry, my friend, but you owe the Iron Man an apology.

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