Cal Ripken & Ken Rosenthal vs. Peter Angelos: Who do you believe?

April 17, 2010 | Nestor Aparicio

It was only a matter of time. This orange collision course of wills regarding the Orioles and Peter Angelos vs. Cal Ripken finally exploded late last night when Ken Rosenthal leaked a story on FoxSports.com that claimed via several MLB sources that Ripken and Andy MacPhail met earlier this week regarding some kind of employment/partnership within the organization.

Rosenthal: “Angelos, however, nixed the idea in a separate conversation with Ripken, telling him, according to three sources, that he did not want Ripken to receive credit once the team returned to prominence.”

So, what exactly transpired here this week between Ripken and the current Orioles regime? And how did Ken Rosenthal wind up back in the middle of a Baltimore baseball triangle with the owner of the team and Cal Ripken?

As is always the case with Angelos, there’s a “morning after” dispute as to what happened and he has since answered with another one of his famous press releases feigning innocence and an open invitation to Ripken.

Having been through the wars of Baltimore sports media since 1984, I’ve lived through the Rosenthal-Angelos wars of the 1990’s. I saw it all first hand and there was a time when I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure Rosenthal – who was the lead sports columnist for The Baltimore Sun — was telling the truth. I remember Kenny being absolutely vilified back in 1996-1997-1998 when all of these bizarre circumstances were happening around the team every day because Angelos essentially had no clue how to run a baseball team.

And Rosenthal would always write stories with some facts so bizarre that it almost lacked believability in whole. And then Angelos would do EXACTLY what he did today – issue a statement exonerating himself and essentially call Rosenthal and The Sun a bunch of liars. (Angelos would then leak every story — his side anyway — via The Washington Post.)

And, in the end and as the cards played out and the stories were corroborated over the last 13 years, every single word Rosenthal ever wrote was true.

The Orioles are 1-11. Once again, for the 13th consecutive year, another baseball season is over in Baltimore.

Again.

This time it’s even more telling, more shocking to the remaining orange supporters because it’s over before it even started. And all of this has come at a time when even some of the most strident pessimists began to once again believe the team was “heading in the right direction.”

Even I had begun to chill some of the orange Kool Aid in my refrigerator.

It’s hard to argue with the promise of Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz, but virtually every other facet of the organization is still inflicted with the cancer of Peter Angelos and his values, strong will and old-world vindictiveness and deceit regarding everything from the banning of free speech in the media to jacking up ticket prices to taking away scalp-free zones to shunning the legends of the team’s heritage and brand.

Clearly, from the looks of Brooks Robinson’s first pitch last Friday to the bobble head offer that no one is buying regarding season tickets, No. 5 has been given a back rub in some way in recent months. It was only four months ago that Angelos once again rebuked any notion that a statue for Brooks would be built near the stadium. The supporters of the statue idea, led by many of Brooks’ longtime community and business friends, had found a place across the street to erect the monument and had quietly set search for funds to build a nearly half-million dollar piece of civic art.

But that was No. 5, who apparently has built some kind of bridge with Angelos in recent months.

What about No. 8 – the immortal Cal?

Angelos lies. He just does. So any legal-like memorandum that came from his desk on a Saturday morning involving an “open invitation to Cal” is clearly just a lame window dressing to cover his backside. And he’s SUCH a bad liar.

For me, having known Ken Rosenthal for 24 years now, I’m going with his story, which he text me today “speaks for itself” and makes perfect sense.

I asked Rosenthal to chat with me regarding the story. His text? “I don’t want to get into it.” Fair enough, but clearly Rosenthal stands behind his story and it’s sensible enough and it’s not like this would be Angelos’ first blatant lie.

So, how did this whole “story” surface under the byline of Ken Rosenthal while the Orioles are losing games at a near-1988 pace? Who in Ripken’s camp leaked this to Fox Sports and Rosenthal to further embarrass Angelos at a time when his current players are doing plenty to further disgrace and distance themselves from anything that used to be known as Orioles baseball?

That remains in question and what also is unclear is what leverage Ripken’s people hoped to attain by having this story leak via Rosenthal? Was it designed to put pressure on Angelos to answer when the team is once again at rock bottom? (Although, after 98 losses last year, the results say the franchise has only ever really LEFT rock bottom in the fantasyland world of some of the more sycophant followers.)

And if Angelos actually spoke with Ripken this week and told him he’s not welcome, how does it play out for a shunned Ripken now that Angelos has essentially thrown it into his court for a public comment?

(I have a feeling there are some very, very pissed off powerful people here on a Saturday. Angelos’ team sucks on field and isn’t home for a week. Ripken clearly wants these shenanigans to stop because it’s killing his personal brand and hurting the city. And if Angelos told Ripken to buzz off earlier in the week — and we have no reason to believe Rosenthal’s story isn’t legit — then we have one helluva knockdown, drag out about to get underway in Baltimore.)

I’ll be writing more about the 1-11 start – and I’ve been a very, very active voice in all of our online LIVE Orange Crush chats during every game so if you want to interact I’m easy to find there or on Facebook or Twitter – later in the weekend.

But this Angelos vs. Rosenthal cage match intertwined with Ripken-camp leaks has me thinking and writing and scratching my head.

Why did Ripken set out to embarrass Angelos and pressure him publicly by getting a story this white-hot to Rosenthal?

Or did Ripken never want this made public? Or will Cal follow along and dismiss Rosenthal’s story as fiction?

Hmmm….

Let’s be honest. At this rate the baseball season and the Orioles 2010 fortunes look to be a sad, sad tale about to unfold.

And I’m seriously thinking about resurrecting Free The Birds 2010 to continue to put pressure on this lousy owner to change his ways and start to do right by the fans of Baltimore who continue to suffer while he lines his pockets with upwards of $40 million of profit this year from a lopsided partnership with the city and the citizens of Maryland who love baseball and continued to be bamboozled by this awful stewardship of a civic treasure.

The whole disaster of the last 13 years has absolutely sickened me.

Maybe Ripken woke up yesterday feeling the same way.

Otherwise, why would the world know that he and Andy MacPhail had a cup of coffee the other day?

The story that Rosenthal reported was NOT leaked by anyone on Angelos’ side of the fence, rest assured…

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