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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

December 27, 2001|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

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What: "Cal Ripken Jr.: The Ironman's Legendary Career" videotape

Producer: Major League Baseball Productions

Price: $14.95

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Baseball could use some positive stories, and this 60-minute videotape that covers Cal Ripken Jr.'s outstanding career certainly provides one. The problem is, the story as told by Major League Baseball Productions may be too positive. No one's life is this perfect.

Another problem is the tape, which was released earlier this month, is not well organized. It jumps around from highlights of Ripken's career to testimonials about his greatness to a little about his childhood. There's not enough about Ripken away from baseball. His mother, Vi, is interviewed briefly, but Ripken's wife and children are not part of the tape. There's nothing of Ripken at home.

Ripken's close relationship with his father is discussed, but viewers who are not familiar with Cal Ripken Sr. may be left a little confused. The elder Ripken played for the Baltimore Orioles and was a coach for them when his son was first called up in 1981. But it's not clear that the elder Ripken was the team's manager for two seasons--1987 and '88. And there is no mention of Cal Sr. losing that job or how his son dealt with it.

Another Ripken, younger brother Billy, played five seasons with the Orioles, and that is covered pretty well. There are plenty of highlights of Cal, at shortstop, turning double plays with Billy, the second baseman.

The documentary drags at times before it gets to what might be the best part--Ripken's final season. Ripken often wore a microphone during his final season for the making of this tape.

Viewers are able to relive the night of Sept. 6, 1995, when Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game to break Lou Gehrig's record. But the producers could have devoted more time to this moment and less to all the puffery.

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