I was listening to the fine WNST programming last week and I heard a caller mention to one of the hosts that the Orioles would be wise to hire Bill Ripken as their full time manager. My initial reaction was to scoff at the idea, but as I thought on it, and the week continued, and I heard some of the names that were being thrown around, the more I thought that hiring Billy made the most sense.
I would be a gamble, especially for someone like Andy MacPhail who has taken Dave Trembley’s place on the hot seat. He can barely afford to have another managerial failure in the face of the regression of the younger players that he has kind of bet the future of the team on. But the one thing that Billy would bring to the club is instant credibility. The Ripken name is royalty in the Baltimore baseball, if not sports, landscape. He doesn’t, of course, carry the same clout as older brother Cal, but as long as the name “RIPKEN” is shown across the back of the uniform, it at least gives him that edge.
The one pitfall to hiring Billy is, of course, he has no previous major league managerial experience. But Billy was a hard-nosed, “get your uniform dirty”, kind of player. While Cal was the more straight laced, routine oriented, clean cut player, Billy always seemed to have 3-day stubble, and because he wasn’t blessed with Cal’s ability, Billy had to play the game harder. Which is what you would like from a perspective manager. Gritty, hard-nosed, and fiery are exactly how Billy played the game, and that’s the kind of manager this team needs.
But beyond that, Billy knows the game of baseball. He’s a Ripken for God’s sake.
What better way for this team to attempt to return the doing things “The Oriole Way”, then hiring one of it’s core descendants. Cal Ripken, Sr. was the embodiment of The Oriole Way, and growing up, that’s how he taught his son’s to play the game of baseball. Bill has such an intimate knowledge of the game, the X’s and O’s, and such, that some of the other contenders pale in comparison to him.
I’ve watched his analysis on the MLB network, I’ve seen him as a teacher of the game to kids, and I believe that with the youth on this team, he would be a good leader. Not to mention that as a former major league player, he would have the credibility with the veterans on this team, well, most of them anyway.
Having said all that, I don’t know if Billy even wants the job. I would like to think that if approached, Bill would at least mull it over. After all, it is a major league managerial job, but I don’t know what other ventures Bill is engaged in that would prevent him from taking the job.
Either way, hiring Bill Ripken as manager would, in my opinion, be a step in the right direction for this franchise. He knows the game, he’s played the game, he teaches the game, and, he is part of Baltimore baseball royalty…
…and he’s got to be better then Trembley.