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Is Cal Ripken going to buy the Orioles one day?

Jan 17, 2011, 1:41 PM EDT

Cal Ripken

This is a couple of steps farther down the grapevine than even I’m used to relaying, but my friend Rex Snider at WNST in Baltimore passes along some interesting gossip:

According to celeb-O’s fan, Roy Firestone, he received some possible inside information that indicated Peter Angelos might be readying the Orioles for a sale to local investors. Better yet, the group is supposedly headed by Cal Ripken.

On Saturday night, Firestone attended an event with Orioles greats, such as Brooks and Frank Robinson. The event provided Firestone with his information on the possible upcoming sale of the ballclub.

Firestone has been quick to point out his “source” is confidential. However, he has also identified this same source as one of credibility in past dealings – and, one who has the connections to know such information.

It’s still gossip, and Rex is quick to note that this is (a) just stuff he’s hearing; and (b) isn’t about anything imminent.

But even if it doesn’t happen I find it interesting, if for no other reason than it makes me wonder more about faces of the franchise buying their old teams.  We have Nolan Ryan in Texas already and as time goes on — and as richer and richer former players decide to get active in the business word — we’ll probably see more of it.

I get it as a marketing idea — Rangers fans are understandably more excited about Nolan Ryan calling the shots than some leveraged buyout artist — but it runs counter to another couple of notions with which we’ve become acquainted in recent years.

One of which is ex-jocks not faring very well in the front office. Matt Millen and Isiah Thomas, anyone? Another is of how upset we tend to get when ownership meddles with baseball operations.  We get chafed when the Yankees are allegedly telling Brian Cashman  what to do.  Why are we going to be any happier about this when Cal Ripken or Nolan Ryan does it? Just because they played the game doesn’t mean they’re better at second guessing the people actually hired to make such calls. They’re just a bigger name doing the second-guessing.

Writing about Cal Ripken owning the Orioles makes for great copy and it may even sell some tickets if it ever comes to pass.  But I think, as a matter of substance, it’s overblown and possibly even counterproductive for the former hero to come back and “save” the team.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    I think the point to guys like Ryan and Ripken is that it’s a great connection between the fans and ownership; the idea of having an owner be so historically involved in your favorite team is really exciting, and if these guys have enough executive brass that knows what they’re doing, I’d prefer to see this trend rise myself.

  2. randomdigits - Jan 17, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    I would have told you about that yesterday if I had thought you would run it. You want an actual quote from Firestone?

  3. Panda Claus - Jan 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    See the watery eyes Ripken has in that 2131 photo? Those are my eyes right now as you’re allowing me to even dream that Angelos might someday sell to the team to Cal and not let his sons take over.

    Millen and Thomas failed miserably at running teams because neither of those guys were spending their own money. Even Michael Jordan seems to be taking things more seriously running the Bobcats (versus the Wizards) because he now funds those checks that are getting written.

  4. Chipmaker - Jan 17, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Bonds buys Giants.
    Heads explode.
    Hijinx ensue.

  5. kmgannon - Jan 17, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Having grown up near Bal’mer, I can tell you that Angelos selling that team (esp. to a Ripken group) would be tremendous, not just for O’s fans, but for baseball in general. Baseball is better when storied franchises like the Orioles are managed well.

  6. aaronmoreno - Jan 17, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    I think seeing players getting into ownership just shows how some are able to leverage and invest their money to great effect, even in cases where they lack a college or even a high school education. We hear about Lenny Dykstra, but don’t think Junior Bridgeman. Maybe the best thing Cal can do is buy the Orioles, then sit back and higher smart people.

    • bcopus - Jan 17, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      Or hire them even.

      • aaronmoreno - Jan 17, 2011 at 6:11 PM

        Dang, I need to hire me an editor.

  7. phantomspaceman - Jan 17, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    I don’t think the confidence in an ex-player as an owner necessarily comes from them being “hands-on” as much as (you’d like to think) that they know enough about the game/running a franchise to surround themselves with the right people. I’d like to think that someone like Cal Ripken isn’t so cocky that he thinks he himself can turn around a franchise, but by bringing in the right people (scouts, gm, etc.) and also loosening up the purse strings a bit, it’d all be a step in the right direction.

  8. bobulated - Jan 17, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Please don’t get the O’s poor suffering fans hope up. It’s cruel. Angelos is one of the most incompetent owners in sports because he has “Successful Rich Guy” syndrome further compounded by being a lawyer. He thinks he knows everything about everything, has never been or will be wrong in his life, won’t hire employees do their job and then blames his failures on his underlings “incompetence” after constantly cutting them off at the knees.

  9. Old Gator - Jan 17, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    I don’t believe lawyers should be permitted to own anything. I think they should be keep in large fenced compounds when not in use and fed a diet of soy protein, high fiber cereal and broken glass and encouraged to stage dog and cockfights when not actually litigating or writing threatening letters to try to extort settlements from defendants in frivolous lawsuits. Peter Angelos. Frank McCourt. Oy!

    • bigharold - Jan 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

      What’s 500 lawyers trapped in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean? A good start. My attorney told me that one.

      Lawyers are like pit bulls. When their yours you want them as big, aggressive, nasty, cunning and ruthless as possible. Otherwise they should be dragged into the street and done away with for the good of society at large.

    • larryhockett - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:52 AM

      Agreed! If only we could lock up all the lawyers then the big insurance companies and corporations would totally be fair and reasonable and own up to their mistakes. Without lawyers around to muck things up, us little guys would be free to take on those multi-billion dollar businesses directly in an even-handed one-on-one interaction. Shoot, if only we could get rid of all the lawyers, there would never be another person on the face of the earth to make a frivolous claim about anything!

      That’s all too much to ask for, of course. Maybe we could start by just getting rid of Angelos because he’s a horrible baseball owner first.

  10. Adam - Jan 17, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    I disagree with you somewhat Craig. The biggest thing Nolan Ryan is actually doing for the Rangers is setting the organizational philosophy. Then he’s going to go out and make sure the people that are part of the organization are buying into it and implementing it how he envisioned.

    ASSUMING the ex-players stay out of the GMs way and simply act as a sounding board for them instead of making the GM a figurehead I think it could work quite well. As mentioned above, it provides a great connection between fans and teams as well.

    • Richard In Big D - Jan 17, 2011 at 6:03 PM

      True about Nolan, Adam. He’s bringing a new culture, especially to the pitching staff, and it’s been wildly successful. Starters go deeper by far into games, and the bullpen can be used much more judiciously. In reviewing last season, as I will some time before opening day, I’m sure I will be able to quantify the number of wins preserved because when Ron Washington DID have to go to the bullpen, there was always somebody bot talented AND rested available. I could see Ripkin doing the same thing for a franchise from a different angle. By leading a cultural revolution in the clubhouse that leads players into more serious conditioning, and keeping them healthier and therefore having your starters (i.e. your best players) missing less playing time to injury and/or fatigue. More innings and ABs from your best players will certainly translate to more W’s. Imagine if Ryan and Ripkin joined forces!

  11. genericcommenter - Jan 17, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    I don’t know about that, but I’ve always been suspicious of this guy. I mean, he went gray and started balding around 30, then he significantly bulked up in his late 30s. He also managed to play most of his last 10 seasons as an average to slightly below average batter but then had that 1 big 1/2 season the year after the Sosa/McGwire HR chase. Then there was that whole Kevin Costner rumor, an obvious case of “rage.”

  12. madhatternalice - Jan 18, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Normally, I’d agree with you, Craig, but for a team that has done everything in its power to turn its fan base AWAY from the team, they’ll need to do something pretty powerful to pull people back in. And we still love us our Iron Man. It would be a smart move.

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