It seems as if the stars are aligning for Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. to join the team's front office, and a little bit of star power would go a long way for Orioles fans who are desperate to watch a winning team.
You’ve no doubt read that Ripken told The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday that he has an "itch to come back to the big league scene" or you heard about it elsewhere. Ripken might get a chance to scratch it this offseason.
The contract of Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will expire at season’s end, and even though owner Peter Angelos said this spring that he expects him to return, MacPhail has given no indication that he plans on accepting the invitation. If he bolts Baltimore, the Orioles will need to hire a new general manager to finish MacPhail’s rebuilding plan -- or lay the foundation of yet another one.
There is speculation that manager Buck Showalter would be interested in moving to the front office, but the Orioles are best-served with him in the dugout. They’re not going to get a manager better than him.
This is where Cal comes riding in on a white horse -- or at least he does in the daydreams of fed-up fans.
Ripken has been waiting for empty-nest syndrome to kick in before his talks with Angelos about the Orioles get really serious, and it's still another year until his son goes to college. But if the organization has to reshape its front office this winter, now is the perfect time for him to stick his foot in the Warehouse.
After 14 straight losing seasons, the Orioles need a return to the Oriole Way. Ripken knows a thing or two about that. Bringing his reputation and expertise back into the organization will go a long way with Orioles fans, and it could improve the on-field product the way Nolan Ryan has with the Texas Rangers.
Ripken has a preference for a front office role opposed to an on-field position, and he told The Baltimore Sun that the Orioles are moving in the right direction under the leadership of Showalter and MacPhail.
"You can see the strides they're making," Ripken said Tuesday. "You can see the talent they're assembling. You can see the alignment that goes on, and then actually playing the game, you have to start to develop a chemistry with that group of players. And at some point, you have to expect success.”
If MacPhail doesn’t want to return, Ripken might be the Ironman who can help them achieve it.