Maybe it was the tough extra inning loss or, maybe people just aren’t educated on the subject. After the O’s game last night, and all morning, I’ve had to look at countless Tweets from Baltimore fans who are angry at Cal Ripken, Jr. for his TBS coverage. The argument seems to be that Ripken has been “pro-Yankees” while in the booth during these O’s playoff games. Do I really have to take the time to defend Cal Ripken?
Here’s the bottom line: Cal Ripken has to be impartial. That’s his job as a professional commentator. You can blame TBS for putting him in this uncomfortable predicament, but I’m sure Cal was happy and willing to do it. I heard an interview with Cal on XM radio last week where he talked about his new role in the booth. Cal admitted that he was worried about being impartial and that he would do his best to be. He told radio subscribers that he was admittedly pulling for the Orioles and that he wasn’t sure if he would be able to not make that known in the booth.
Of course Ripken is cheering for the Birds. I don’t have to review his accolades. Might I remind everyone that Cal owns a minor league stadium within the organization. His facility has been partially responsible for the development of multiple Orioles prospects, including Manny Machado last season. He is still a regular presence at the ballpark and at the team’s facilities, both in Baltimore and at Spring Training. Oh, and he’s a Hall of Fame for our team. He is an Oriole. He is forever enshrined as an Oriole.
It’s really a lose/lose situation for Cal with the public. If he openly cheers for the Orioles on national television he will never be asked to do this again. It’s a huge honor for Cal to be in he booth as opposed to being a post-show analyst. In this subject, I have particular expertise as it’s the industry I work in. Being in the booth for a playoff series is a big deal for anyone, especially Ripken.
Can you imagine how much outrage there would be with Yankee fans if Ripken were to cheer against them on television? Like it or not, New York is the dominant baseball market. The Yankees draw television ratings. They have the largest fan base, and millions tune in to root against them. If you anger that market on national television you lose ratings. Then TBS loses money. Nobody wants to lose money in a business, especially a major network owned by a billionaire. So realistically, Cal can’t afford to be biased.
So, Cal he does his best not to be a homer. And what happens next? His own fan base lashes out against him for doing his job. Really people? Really? You’re lashing out against the biggest icon in Orioles history? You’re lashing out against the biggest icon in Maryland history? You’re lashing out against the biggest icon of your life? Just because he’s not allowed to say “Go Orioles” or “I hope Robertson blows it?” We all know he’s thinking it. So stop getting mad at him for not saying it. Because he can’t. Let’s just be happy that the biggest piece of history our team has ever had is being allowed to represent us to the world on such a huge stage.
Don’t turn your back on your hero. I am embarrassed for our fans.