Should We Take The Cal Ripken + Nationals Talk Seriously?

Patrick McDermott

An article in the Washington Post. An interview with 106.7 the FAN In D.C.'s The Sports Junkies. A conversation about potentially joining the Nationals on CSNChicago. Is there anything to the increasing chatter about Cal Ripken as a possible successor to Davey Johnson?

[ed. note - "I'm just collecting this information here because I'm not sure what to make of it, or how seriously to take it. With that said, there has been a bit of chatter about the possibility of Cal Ripken getting back into the game, and his name has been tied speculatively to the Washington Nationals recently in a report by the Washington Post and an interview with CSNChicago.com. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo also discussed the idea of the Hall of Famer becoming a major league manager on this week's edition of "The Mike Rizzo Show" with 106.7 the FAN's Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier. So this is all offered with a big FWIW. That being said..."]:

In a discussion with reporters back in late July, Baltimore Orioles' Hall of Fame infielder Cal Ripken was asked if he'd ever been approached by the Washington Nationals about possibly getting back into the game. As quoted by the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, here's what the now-52-year-old Havre de Grace, Maryland-born 1978 Orioles' 2nd Round pick, who was in D.C. with TBS getting information for a national broadcast, had to say:

"'I’ve known the Lerner family for a while, and they’re great people. I sat with Mike Rizzo last night, mostly so I could pick his brain for our telecast. I needed to cram for what I was doing. But it’s interesting. From afar, they’ve done some nice baseball things. But the answer is no. But I like the ownership group. I like Mike a lot. I like what I see in the organization.'"

"[Robin] Ventura, who was sort of a surprise pick. Mike Matheny has done a really great job with St. Louis and he had no experience, whatsoever. Donnie Mattingly was a coach under one of the great manager(s) in Joe Torre." - Cal Ripken to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies

Mr. Kilgore's colleague at the Washington Post, Cindy Boren, wrote yesterday about an appearance Ripken made on CSNWashington.com's "Table Manners" with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies. Ripken was asked on the show if he thought a major league team would hire someone like himself who has no experience as a manager at any level of the game. "I'd like to think they would," Ripken responded, and he explained that he had been asked before. "I've been asked to interview for managing jobs before, not too long ago, and I always thought that if you had no interest in taking it then you shouldn't go through the process. But I'm curious as all get-out what questions they're going to ask. What baseball quiz are they going to give me that I can't answer?"

"To me it's interesting," Ripken continued, "and again, to see [Robin] Ventura, who was sort of a surprise pick. Mike Matheny has done a really great job with St. Louis and he had no experience, whatsoever. Donnie Mattingly was a coach under one of the great manager(s) in Joe Torre. But then, there's nothing... you've got to sit in the hot seat to learn yourself, and the hot seat is that manager's seat."

Nationals' GM and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo sat and talked to Ripken when the Orioles' great was in Nationals Park last month. Rizzo was asked this past Wednesday by 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier if he'd ever talked to Ripken about managing the Nationals once Davey Johnson steps aside at the end of this season?

"He's a great baseball guy and as knowledgeable as anybody and a guy that if he were to throw his hat in the ring would probably have a lot of opportunities..." - Mike Rizzo on Cal Ripken on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.

"No. I've talked to Cal a couple of times recently," Rizzo told the show's hosts. "He's been in the ballpark for some occasions. He's a terrific baseball guy. To be a manager of a major league franchise, you need to be 100% committed and it's very time-consuming and all-encompassing and it's 24/7 and Cal hasn't made any overtures that he's prepared to jump into the baseball life. He's a great baseball guy and as knowledgeable as anybody and a guy that if he were to throw his hat in the ring would probably have a lot of opportunities because of who he is and the status he has and his baseball knowledge. But he's got to make that commitment and be ready to do it and once you jump in you jump in with both feet and there's no turning back. But the rumors and speculations are just that, rumors and speculation."

Rizzo said he didn't talk to Ripken about the possibility of becoming a big league manager, but they did discuss, "... baseball in general. That's what we've always talked about. He's got so many irons in the fire and he's so busy that just the topic never came to if you're ready to jump in. It's just we always talk baseball and players and evaluations and strategies and what he would do and what I would do and how you handle these type of things. That's our conversations and they're interesting conversations. And he has a very interesting baseball take on things. And like I said, one of the real baseball IQ guys and obviously a baseball junkie and a guy who lives and breathes the sport."

"I'm kind of getting the itch to look at the big league scene again and say, 'Is there a place for me now and is my time now to make that sort of choice...'" - Cal Ripken on CSNChicago's Sports Talk Live

But if he's not ready to fully commit?... About that. Ripken did an interview with CSNChicago.com's Sports Talk Live where the topic of managing came up again. Ripken recounted how me made the choice after retiring to spend time with his family as his children grew up, but now that they're a little bit older, he explained, he's starting to get the itch. "I'm kind of getting the itch to look at the big league scene again and say, 'Is there a place for me now and is my time now to make that sort of choice," Ripken said. But he took a risk in taking time away from the game and is wondering now about getting back in. "So, yeah," he said, "I'm feeling the need to apply what I know to the big league level. Don't know how yet."

Ideally, Ripken explained, he'd like to work with the Orioles again, but he said he's thought that there might be a separation between his playing days and a second career in the sport. Asked specifically about the Nationals, who will be searching for a manager if Davey Johnson doesn't change his mind about leaving after this season, and if he'd be interested in managing in Washington, Ripken had this to say:

"I've been asked to interview for many managing jobs and I never said yes because I never was serious about it and I thought it would be wrong to go through that process. I haven't been asked, you know, by them."

"If they asked, would you say, 'Yes?'" the host asked.

"I think I would be more curious at this stage of my life than I have been," Ripken said.

"So that's kind of a yes?"

"That's kind of a 'maybe,'" Ripken joked.


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