There is a certain fascination with Cal Ripken in Baltimore than extends beyond the baseball diamond. He symbolizes excellence, integrity, generosity, and pristine success in a city that has seen little of it as of late- and I am not just talking about the Orioles. Whether these are actually parts of his character none of us will ever know, but he has come to mean a great deal more than the man himself. Over the past decade or so, ever since his retirement in fact, Orioles fans have developed a fixation on the idea of Cal taking over the team, buying it from Peter Angelos and returning the team to the glory days of the franchise. With talks once again underway to give the Hall of Famer an advisory role in the front office, that unfounded excitement could get even louder.
Cal Ripken told reporters at MASN and the Baltimore Sun that talks between he, Angelos, and Andy MacPhail are “progressing nicely” to give him an advisory and secondary role in the front office. This is a far cry from where we were even 2 years ago, when I never thought Ripken would join Angelos after the way his father was (fairly or unfairly) unceremoniously fired during the disastrous 1988 season. Not to mention the horrifying personnel moves that turned Cal’s last years into the beginning of the worst stretch in the team’s history (ongoing, of course). However, I think Cal wants to be close to the team, and whether he has reconciled with Angelos or not we may just have to take his word for it. Angelos is smart enough to know that if he is ever going to quiet the fans who call for Ripken to buy the team he needs to bring the Oriole great into the fold.
That said, I wonder how exactly fans thought Ripken would buy the team after all. His career salary is just south of $70 million, and the Orioles are currently valued at $376 million according to Forbes. I am pretty sure those Comcast and Chevy endorsement deals aren’t getting him enough to make up the difference or even be a majority partner in a team of investors. Besides, Angelos won’t be willing to sell any time soon. He still thinks he has the keys to turn this ship around, which might be the scariest part of this whole fiasco. Moreover, while we know Ripken was an incredible player and an icon for the city, there is nothing to indicate that he has any idea how to construct a team- Isaiah Thomas is a Hall of Famer too but wasn’t much of a GM or Coach. Perhaps he will get his chance to learn and develop in the Orioles front office, so this could be the right role for him at the right time.
Regardless of how he is part of the organization, it is right that Cal should be with the club in some way. The Orioles have a poor track record in terms of keeping up with former players and finding ways for them to engage with fans and current players. Brooks Robinson has had a rocky relationship with the team after they largely ignored him after his retirement. When even Brady Anderson is finding a way to contribute to the club (he recently spent some time in Norfolk to help out Nolan Reimold and other outfielders), Cal Ripken needs to be part of the organization. No, it won’t turn the club around, and no, he won’t be instrumental in signing free agents this upcoming season. But it’s a great gesture and is quite frankly the right thing to do for an organization that hasn’t had many examples lately to draw from.