When Major League Baseball was coming off their strike-shortened 1994 season, they needed someone to lean on and bring baseball back to what it once was: enjoyable and successful. Cal Ripken Jr. delivered a streak that not only brought national recognition to Baltimore, but it put baseball back on its feet.
Commissioner Bud Selig admits that without Ripken, he doesn't know where baseball would be.
"When you talk about Cal Ripken [Jr.], just think where we are today and where we were in 1995," says Commissioner Bud Selig. "I will always be grateful to Cal because he started that task of recovery and made it a lot easier. No one should ever diminish his great role in baseball."
The current Orioles organization is in the same state as baseball was in 1995. Baseball had a bright future, as they could only get better, and Ripken put them over the edge. With a lot of young talent, the O's could lean on Ripken the same way MLB did.
In a July 2002 article on ESPN.com, Ripken made it apparent that he wanted to be in a front office position at some point in the near future. However, Ripken wanted a little time to himself to do work with Ripken Baseball. Now, seven years later, it could be time for Ripken to get back into MLB.
"I don't want to manage right now, and coaching doesn't appeal to me,'' Ripken said in '02. "But if there was a job that I could shape a baseball organization or help shape a baseball organization, I certainly would look at that."
"The Orioles are my first choice...before I looked at options elsewhere, I'd like to know whether that opportunity would be available to me here.''
Andy MacPhail has done a great job with the Orioles current roster. In Baltimore, MacPhail will forever be known for the "Erik Bedard trade," which brought All-Stars George Sherrill and Adam Jones to Baltimore, along with current rookies Chris Tillman and Kam Mickolio. MacPhail also brought Luke Scott and current minor leaguer Troy Patton to Baltimore for Miguel Tejada.
Along with the two big trades MacPhail has made, he also has strengthened the Orioles farm system with Joshua Bell, Steve Johnson, and Brett Jacobson. At 56, MacPhail isn't on his way out of Baltimore too soon. However, he has already been considered as a possible successor for Bud Selig as MLB Commissioner.
With a possible move in the near future, the Orioles need to make sure that their hometown hero, Cal Ripken Jr., is ready for a front office position. With MacPhail still as the General Manager, the Orioles could take a page out of the Texas Rangers book.
In 2008, the Rangers hired Nolan Ryan as team president. With the youngest GM in baseball in Jon Daniels, the Rangers may not be seeking for Ryan to become the General Manager, however, having Ryan around the clubhouse can only help the youthful Rangers.
Having Cal around would only help the Orioles young players in talking to a legend of the game, as well as, a former play who can give important advice. In 1994, baseball needed to lean on Ripken to save the game.
In 2010, Baltimore could lean on Ripken to save the O's. Baltimore is forever Cal's home and his presence could be the final piece for a winning future.