Isa believed that Derek Jeter was better than Cal Ripken, Jr. Darven disagreed.
"How many world championship teams did Ripken play for?" Isa asked. Darven was ready.
"Cal Ripken led the 1983 Baltimore Orioles to the World Series. He had a season that Jeter could only hope for."
In 1983, Ripken batted .318/371/.517. He led the league with 211 hits, 121 runs scored and 47 doubles. Isa knew all that. He waited a few seconds before responding.
"Hey, Darven, what else did he lead the American League in for the rest of his career?"
"From 1984 to 2001, Ripken led in at-bats once, in total bases once and, of course, in games played eight times."
Isa went on the offensive, citing the fact that Jeter has been an integral part of seven pennant winners and five world championships.
Darven asked, "What did 'Jete' hit in those World Series?" He immediately realized that he never should have asked that question.
He thought of a television show he used to watch called The Practice.
Darven pictured himself as a defendant with prior convictions who was trying to establish that he had a good reputation. Once he spoke about his character, the prosecution could bring up his convictions.
Isa played the role of the magnanimous winner. "I wasn't going to mention it because 'Jete' was in seven World Series and batted .321/.384/.449 compared to Cal's one Series in which he hit .167/.286/.167, but you, Darven, brought it up."
Isa continued the assault.
"Jeter's career average is .313. Cal hit .276. Jeter had a much better on-base percentage (.374 to .340) and, believe it or not"—the name of another show that they both used to watch—"Jeter out-slugged Ripken, .465 to .447."
Darven took a deep breath. "Fine, but Ripken averaged 23 home runs over a 162-game season to Jeter's 16, and he batted in more runs."
Without missing a beat, Isa told Darven that Jeter hit leadoff or second, while Ripken usually batted third. He said that Jeter was a much more effective first or second batter than Ripken was as a power hitter and RBI man.
Darven realized that he'd better turn to defense, but Isa wouldn't allow it before citing Jeter's much greater speed, superior baserunning ability and enormous edge in stolen bases.
Then Darven went to work. "Ripken has a career range factor per nine innings of 4.73 to Jeter's 4.10. Cal has a dWAR of 17.6 to 'Jete's' minus-14.7."
Darven couldn't control himself. He started to do a little dance before he continued.
"Jeter's career fielding percentage is .976 compared to the league's .972 while he's played. Ripken has a career .979 percentage, which is 10 points better than the league's .969 when he played."
Then Darven pulled out the big gun.
"Isa," he said, "when was the last time that 'Jete' won the MVP award?"
"Darven," Isa responded, "when was the last time Jeter had four consecutive seasons in which he batted less than .265?"
And as the title of an oldie but goodie stated, along came Mary.
"What are you two arguing about?" Mary asked them. "Ripken and Jeter again?"
Isa and Darven each nodded sheepishly in agreement.
"Well," said Mary, "both of you are wrong. Neither can compare to A-Rod when he was a shortstop."
End of story.
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