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Summer of Conspiracy
Page 2 staff

Poll Results

It's a good thing "The Natural" didn't come out this summer. Otherwise, we'd be hearing reports about how Roy Hobbs was jacked up on androstenedione.

Storybook endings are definitely out in 2001. The minute any athlete does something that seems too good to be true, the rumors start swirling that the story is indeed not true.

Cal Ripken Jr.
Raise your hand if you think the Cal conspiracy is a load of bull.
We should have known something was fishy earlier this year when it was revealed that Bobby Thomson's historic home run to win the pennant for the 1951 New York Giants was aided by his teammates stealing signs in center field. Once "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" was debunked, nothing in sports was safe. Already this summer, we've seen conspiracies involving Cal Ripken Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Jordan, Anna Kournikova and Jaromir Jagr.

But which conspiracies are real and which are more farfetched than an Oliver Stone movie? Page 2 will explore them one-by-one. Vote in the poll at left to rank the conspiracy's validity on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being utterly false and 10 being rock-solid fact). Once you vote in the poll, you'll automatically move on to the next conspiracy.

We start with the Midsummer Classic ...

Conspiracy No. 1: Cal's meatball
The theory: National League pitcher Chan Ho Park of the Dodgers grooved a fastball on the first pitch to Cal Ripken Jr., so the retiring Baltimore Orioles legend could go out with a bang in his final All-Star Game. Ripken indeed blasted a homer to left and walked off with the MVP trophy.

Why the conspiracy might be real: Ripken had a whopping four homers entering the All-Star break and hadn't gone deep in nearly a month, so he obviously needed any help he could get. Plus, some witnesses claimed to have seen Ripken engaged in a pre-game conversation with Park, rock star George Harrison and actor David Duchovny.

Why the conspiracy seems farfetched: If Bud Selig couldn't present a lifetime-achievement award to Ripken without butchering the Iron Man's career stats, then how could baseball undertake something as complicated as this?

Plus, Park's fastball did register 92 mph on the radar gun, and it ain't that easy to hit a "grooved pitch" out of the park. Just ask Troy Glaus, who went 0-for-10 in the Home Run Derby the day before Ripken's rip.

Page 2's rating (on a scale of 1-10): 3. We don't believe any Ripken conspiracy that doesn't involve Kevin Costner and a malfunctioning light tower.

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