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In Which Billy Ripken Sullies Jimmy Haynes' Good Name

Yesterday, I related a story XM Homeplate personality Billy Ripken told that, let us say, was in some tension with the historical record. Ripken was on again during drive-time today, and I think I could really turn this thing into a recurring feature. Today's story related to the general (and hackneyed) subject of "Manny being Manny." The gist of the conversation between Ripken, Kevin Kennedy, and Rob Dibble was Manny's a weirdo, but he sure can hit. And Billy Rip had a perrrrrfect story for that:

I was with the O's again. It was after we got Eddie Murray to come back in a trade I guess it was. Cal was there, Raffy was there, Robby was there, Zeile was there. And I was on the bench. {Laughs abound.} Eddie was DHing, so he was on the bench with me. I liked to pick his ear some. So it's early in the game, playing Cleveland, Manny was a young guy back then, but everybody saw he could really hit. Jimmy Haynes was on the mound. Had a hook. You remember him, right? Big kid, had a hook. Manny comes up. First pitch, Haynes throws Manny a hook. [editor's note, by Basil] I've noticed Billy Ripken's favorite word is "hook." He uses it all the time. Incidentally, I've also noticed Kennedy's favorite word is "Uh" and Dibble's favorite word is "Crap." But I digress . . . Second pitch comes, and it's a hook too. I mean, Eddie saw it coming. Right as the pitch came out---what is that? four-tenths of a second they say---and Eddie is yelling, "No! No! No!" And he was right! Manny crushed a bomb, 450 feet.

I'm noticing a trend. Every time Billy Ripken tells a story, there's a 450-foot home run involved, like this is some sort of common occurrence. It's as if Ripken remembers the game being played in an environment not unlike that asteroid in Armageddon. Remember when Affleck jumped that dune buggy over like eighteen football fields?

Of far greater consequence is that there's no way this story, as told, is true. But we'll get to that in a moment.

It starts off pretty well. All of the people mentioned in the story were members of the 1996 Baltimore Orioles---or, in the cases of Murray and Todd Zeile, would be before the end of the regular season. That part of the story fits, pretty much. It's obviously the '96 O's Ripken referenced, because it was the only season in which Haynes and Murray were teammates. (And, independent of the Haynes/Murray nexus, it was the one and only season in which Steady Eddie came back to Baltimore.)

From there, though, the story collapses. Haynes pitched once against Cleveland in 1996. It was a relief appearance, so we're probably not talking about an early-game situation. And it wasn't; on July 26, 1996, he came in during the fourth inning. This was five days after Murray was reaquired, so at least that part checks out, too.

But I guess it wouldn't be a tremendous surprise if I said Haynes didn't give up a homer to Manny Ramirez on that day. He didn't; Ramirez walked. Albert Belle homered right before Ramirez stepped to the plate. Haynes lasted a third of an inning, so Ramirez didn't come up again in the order.

As with yesterday, I am not saying Ripken's story is completely untrue. It makes perfect sense that Murray would intensely follow and diagnose Ramirez's at-bats as they happened. Up until less than a week prior, Murray had been Manny's teammate for the better part of three seasons. The dual points of Ripken's story was that Manny could hit and Murray knew hitting. There's little doubt about both of those points.

The obvious thought occurs to me Ripken merely misremembered the story, and he's thinking of Belle's at-bat, not Ramirez's walk. Just about all of the above paragraph applies to Belle and Murray equally well, after all. But, more broadly, it seems to me Billy Rip's stories suffer from being way, way too specific. I would have never questioned yesterday's story if he hadn't mentioned Kevin Kennedy was his manager at the time, which seemed curious. I'd have no way to check out this story if he hadn't said Jimmy Haynes in particular, instead of just "some young kid who didn't know what the hell he was doing out there."

Oh well. I'll keep listening. It's not as if there's any other reason to listen to any of these guys other than to pick out the flaws in their old stories, right?

Update [2006-12-6 19:34:6 by Basil]: Manny homered twice against the O's in 1996. The second time, after Murray was aquired, came off reliever Alan Mills in the eighth inning. The first? It came before Murray was acquired, but was surrendered off some young buck named Mike Mussina. Maybe that's the one Billy Rip remembered!