The kind of photo that can make you misty-eyed. Cal Ripken, Jr., on October 6, 2001, before his final game. This is a shot that captures the end of an era about as well as it could be done.
Cal and Tony Gwynn made it into the Hall of Fame, but 2001 was the last we'd see of a lot of quality ballplayers.
Both beleaguered Bash Brothers, Bobby Bonilla, Harold Baines, Bret Saberhagen, Goddamned Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner, the late Ken Caminiti, Nasty Boy Norm Charlton, Tony Fernandez, Eric Davis, Professional Hitter Dave Magadan, Wally Joyner, Goddamned Paul O'Neill, Jeff "FLAT-OUT" Brantley, Pedro's big brother Ramon, fourth outfielder extraordinares Dave Martinez and Stan Javier, journeyman third starter Kevin Tapani, Bobby Witt. I always liked Quilvio Veras, and rent-a-slugger Glenallen Hill.
It all ended with one of the two best World Series of my lifetime (Diamondbacks-Yankees rivals Twins-Braves).
And let's not forget the notable Orioles that would never be seen in the majors again. 1988 Rookie of the Year Gregg Olson, flash-in-the-pan closer Ryan Kohlmeier, Ripken replacement Ryan Minor, Strawberry-punchin' Alan Mills, fatass Rocky Coppinger, Don Buford's boy Damon, Pete Harnisch.
As soon as Stubby Clapp had arrived, he was gone...forever.
The team had already been circling the drain by the time Cal bid farewell, but O's baseball just hasn't been the same since. You cannot replace Cal Ripken -- you can put a body in his position, and it can even be a good player. But he was Cal Ripken.
We'll never have another one.