8 questions with baseball hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr.

By Lance Pugmire

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Sunday, Oct. 7 2012 8:00 a.m. MDT

A. "It's hard. I can remember after we won in 1983, the Tigers started 35-5. Then, everywhere you go, you get everyone's best effort. There has been repeated successes — Texas making it to the World Series two straight seasons, Philadelphia was tough for a while — but winning it twice? Hard."

Q. Adding this extra wild card and the one-game elimination seems an automatic advantage for whichever team is waiting for the next series to start because it appears likely the wild-card winner will burn its ace to advance. Is this good?

A. "I love it. I hear the arguments about, 'You spend all season making the playoffs, it should get you more than one playoff game,' but I think it is handicapped in the right way because it puts an emphasis on winning the division, which is fantastic. These final games mattered, between the Yankees and Orioles, Rangers and A's, instead of seeing teams playing out the string."

Q. What's the perspective you try to bring to broadcasts?

A. "I have a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, and I've played a lot of games. I'm analytical. Watching the game from the booth is different than watching it from shortstop, but many things still jump out. Like the other day, the Orioles brought the infield halfway in and I said, 'That doesn't look right. ... I'm not sure they can get the runner out at home or at first playing like that.' You bring those questions to the fans. Your instincts — that was my strength as a player."

Q. Who are you picking to win the A.L. and N.L.?

A. "If anyone says they're smart enough to make these picks with great confidence, they're not smart. I would say I like the Nationals to go deep, because even though they lost Stephen Strasburg, and that type of strikeout pitcher does well this time of year, they still have two others. ... But another team that is dangerous is Detroit, with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister pitching. Verlander is a guy who can catapult you through this."

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