Ripken to Manage the Nats? Get real...

Posted on October 05, 2013 by Chris Brush

I can't imagine how it could ever make sense for Cal Ripken Jr. to Manage the Washington Nationals. Frankly, it's a rumor that I wish would dry up and blow away.

It appears that Jayson Werth, when asked who he'd like to see replace Davey Johnson, said his first choice for the job would be Cal. Ahead of the Randy Knorr, who has been waiting patiently for Johnson to retire. 

Jon Heyman of CBS reported:  Ripken said the speculation really took off after he told someone "I'm getting an itch" to get back in the game. But this time Ripken added, "I don't know where or how."

In the years after Cal's retirement, as the Orioles struggled here in Baltimore,  fans and writers alike often gave the opinion that the team needed new ownership. Cal had saved us once or twice before, from the baseball abyss, so the notion that he could step in at the organization’s highest level and build us a winner is the kind of stuff Oriole fans fantasize about on long January nights. When the Ravens aren't winning Superbowls.  

Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post put it like this:

"Ripken was raised by a manager, played as if he were a manager in uniform... and probably knows as much about baseball at the granular and the theoretical level as anybody in the sport in the last 50 years. Few, if any, get along better with other players, press or fans. [Jayson] Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, among others, grew up with him as a hero. He's as nice as he needs to be when nice is called for. He's as much a hard-ass as he needs to be when that's the order of the day. He's got good judgment but also has enough temper."

I'm sure I do not need to recap his resume here. He has a sterling reputation and the undying adoration of baseball fans everywhere.  He played 20 big league seasons in Baltimore. He captured the world's attention with "The Streak" during some very dark times. Ripken has avoided the entire steroid mess. His accomplishments are largely credited with winning back the loyalty of fans after the 1994 labor strike caused the cancellation of the world series. First ballot hall of famer.  

He has accomplished more than a lifetime's work in the game.

So why in the world would he subject himself to the grind of managing? To scratch an itch? The environment in today's game is not at all conducive to this kind of experimenting.  With so many teams in contention, It would be folly for a big league club to try a game of roulette with their field general.

The Washington Nationals are a franchise on the rise.  They don't expect to just have winning seasons, they expect to have championship seasons. You can't expect a club with that much talent to be anything other than a contender for years to come. The Nationals will need is a seasoned hand at the helm who can manage.

I thought Ron Washington a viable option, Washington could benefit from a new look. But the Rangers opted to keep him. Dusty Baker is currently looking for work, you have to think the Nats will make a pitch to have him skipper. My gut tells me Baker would make the best fit in DC. I don’t have any basis for that feeling.

Girardi, Sveum, and Wedge are also on the "could be available" list.  If the Nationals are serious about contending next year, they will need to find an experienced Manager. Matt Williams and Randy Knorr are already in the Washington clubhouse and you have to think they will both get a look.

The Nats have shown themselves to be anything but a sure thing, injuries and under performance stymied their push to the playoffs in '13, what if the same fate awaits them in '14?

Would you want to be the one who fires Cal Ripken Jr.?

Ripken has the clout, the cred and the adoration to do practically anything he wants to do in Baseball. If/when the Angelos family decides that it’s time to sell the team, I’m certain that with a few phone calls, Cal could pull together a formative buyers group. In the same way that the ownership group of Dodgers has Magic Johnson to put a fan-friendly face to the brand. Ripken could easily step into a similar role.  But in this conversation, Cal represents nothing more than a hot throw of the dice for the beltway faithful who grew up with the The Streak and the O's.  

Follow me on twitter @coachChris1969. 

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