Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. continued to make the point that he is interested in managing, in a radio interview Thursday morning, but it is clear that Ripken won’t go so far as to announce any interest in the Washington Nationals’ vacancy.
He’s going to wait to be asked, and he hasn’t been yet.
In an interview on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Thursday, Ripken reaffirmed that he’s interested in getting involved in the game again now that his two children are in college.
“Now that I’m in a different phase of my life, if somebody were to have a conversation with me or somebody thought I would be right for a spot, I’d explore it,” said Ripken, who is serving as a color commentator on TBS' postseason coverage. “I don’t know if I’d take it. I’m smart enough to say I’d listen."
Ripken made similar comments to Rich Eisen on a podcast over the weekend, which led to another round of speculation about his future.
"It is interesting how little things about me, even though from my perspective, it’s been very consistent all the way across the board, it’s created a lot of momentum here," Ripken told Patrick on Thursday. "And it’s caused me to have to react to it. But yeah, if somebody wanted me or somebody thought I’d be right for the position, then at this stage in my life I’d listen.”
Ripken's spokesman, John Maroon, said Thursday said Ripken will carefully consider any managerial jobs if he's approached by an interested team. The key word there is "if."
“We have been very consistent in saying that Cal is interested in getting back into the game," Maroon said, "and that if the right opportunity comes along and he is approached, he’d be willing to talk about it -- if and when that happens.”
In the radio interview, Patrick went on to ask Ripken why he doesn’t go full force and take the initiative to pursue the Nationals job. Recently fired Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker has done that, telling The Washington Post he’s interested in succeeding Davey Johnson.
“I would want you to be aggressive,” Patrick said. “If I’m the GM or an owner ... I would want you to say, 'I would love that job. I think it’s a great job, [there’s] potential there. I know the area. I know that team. I’m ready to go,' with something like that. Then I know you’re committed to it."
Patrick then noted that Ripken "never did anything half-[way]" as a player, so he'd expect him to be aggressive in pursuing an open managerial position.
“I don’t think that’s half-[way],” Ripken retorted. “If you’re available or somebody thinks you’re available, they have to want to talk to you. You’re not controlling the process. Yeah, can you put yourself out there? ...
"To me, I’m still in the baseball inner circles. I still talk to all the people. All the guys who I’ve talked to that have asked me before or have wondered what I was thinking about, they know who I am. They know what I know about baseball. If somebody thinks I’m right for the process, then I’ll listen to it, and if they ask me to go through the process, I’d be inclined to consider that. But I’m not lobbying. I’m not using the media to say, ‘Hey, baseball world, I’m ready.’ I’ve never done that.”
Patrick has a point, but it sounds like Ripken is truly trying to be respectful of Baltimore and his place as one of the most revered players in Orioles history. He’s a lifelong Oriole, and even though Buck Showalter is entrenched at Orioles manager, the idea of Ripken heading south to manage the regional rival Nationals would irk some Orioles fans. It's also clear he doesn't want to ruffle feathers with Orioles principal owner Peter G. Angelos either.
So you can’t blame Ripken for waiting for the Nationals to come to him, regardless of how interested he truly is in the job. And if he is interested, the strategy could ultimately backfire. The job and timing -- as well as the situation of being close to home -- may not be better. Allegiances aside, it seems like an excellent opportunity for Ripken to get back into the game. But Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr seems to be the apparent frontrunner because it would be a more seamless transition from Johnson.
That's not to say that Ripken wouldn't consider a job with the Orioles if asked, but it would have to be a legitimate impact job. Both Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette are signed through the 2018 season.
Asked by Patrick in the interview what his father would think about the idea of Ripken managing, Ripken said, “I think that he would like it.”
Patrick then followed up with a question about whether losing wore on Cal Ripken Sr., who managed the Orioles to a 68-101 record in 1987 and the first six games of 1988 before he was fired and replaced by Frank Robinson.
“It wasn’t a good time for him to take a job,” Ripken said. “He waited in line behind Earl [Weaver], and then they chose to go to Joe Altobelli when they brought him back and Joe inherited a good team and we won the World Series the next year [in 1983]. And then Earl came back and we weren’t as talented as a team when they decided to give my dad a chance. That was a rebuilding opportunity. I’m sure he looked at it the same way he looked at the minor leagues, like he was developing for the future. And his time ran out pretty quickly.”