Freaky stuff happened, but not to Cal

Originally Published: September 6, 2005
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

Let's just call them the anti-Ripkens.

Every day, as Cal Ripken found a way to play another game during his record 2,632 consecutive-games streak, somebody in baseball found a way not to play another game.

Without the anti-Ripkens, Ripken's iron-man streak might seem like no big deal. But only when you consider all the bizarre things that keep the rest of the human race from playing every day can you truly appreciate what it means that Ripken never had any of that stuff happen to him.

So here they are -- our favorite injuries, calamities or miscellaneous excuses for missing games during Ripken's fabled streak:

• Brewers pitcher Steve Sparks dislocated his shoulder trying to rip a phone book in half following a motivational speech.

• Larry Andersen strained a muscle in his chest getting out of a Jacuzzi -- and diagnosed it as a "Jacuzzi-tusion."

• Jeff Juden was unable to pitch because of an infected tattoo.

• Indians pitcher Ted Power pulled a hamstring jumping off the bullpen bench to join a brawl.

• Reds pitcher Steve Foster needed surgery after blowing out his shoulder knocking down milk bottles on "The Tonight Show."

• Tigers outfielder Junior Felix strained a hip flexor sliding between Mike Henneman's legs during batting practice.

• Pascual Perez missed a start because he couldn't find the stadium, drove 100 miles on a loop freeway around Atlanta, circled the city two hours, missed his exit five times.

• Perez missed another start because he jumped the Braves to consult a witch doctor.

• Expos pitcher Dennis Martinez hurt his arm tossing his suitcase on the team equipment truck -- an injury later described by Expos public-relations wit Richard Griffin as "Samsonitis."

• Goose Gossage threw his back out sneezing.

• Kent Hrbek missed 10 games after spraining his ankle wrestling with a clubhouse attendant.

• Darren Daulton missed a month after he watched a videotape of himself striking out, punched a wall and broke his hand.

• Vince Coleman missed an entire postseason when he was swallowed up by the automatic tarp machine in St. Louis.

• Marlins infielder Bret Barberie, one of Ripken's former double-play partners, couldn't play because he was slicing habanero chilies in the clubhouse and rubbed juice in his eye.

• Ripken's teammate Mark Smith cut his hand sticking it in a hotel air conditioner.

• Brewers shortstop Jose Valentin cut his hand on a pineapple.

• Dwight Gooden missed a start after Vince Coleman accidentally hit him with a golf club in the locker room.

• Jose Canseco blew out his elbow throwing 50 warm-up pitches in preparation for his dramatic pitching debut.

• Reds pitcher Johnny Ruffin hurt his knee watching television.

• Former Padres malingerer Chris Brown missed a game with a strained eyelid.

• Marlins pitcher Randy Veres bruised his hand pounding the wall of his hotel room to get the people next door to keep it down.

• And Gregg Jefferies missed a game because his wife went into labor while watching him hit for the cycle.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com