Fox Sports is reporting that Cal Ripken has had a few discussions with current O’s manager Peter Angelos about buying the team.
According to Fox, a deal is a long way from getting done. But just the prospect of Ripken taking control of the organization fills a Baltimore fan with hope. And O’s fans haven’t had much cause for hope in a long, long time.
Ripken and Angelos met shortly before Thanksgiving, and could meet again before the Christmas holiday, the source said.
The plan under discussion would be modeled after an approach used by the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens after former owner Art Modell agreed to sell the franchise to Steve Bisciotti.
A slow transfer of power might appeal to Angelos, who would gain immediate credibility with the addition of Ripken yet retain, for a specified period of time, a measure of control.
A lengthy period of transition also could work to Ripken’s benefit, giving him time to learn the business of Major League Baseball.
Ripken doesn’t have near enough money to buy the O’s. He’d have to recruit some other investors. The O’s are predicted to sell for close to $800 million. But that might not be too hard.
The real obstacle will be convincing Angelos to sell. After all, even as the team has struggled, the organization’s finances have improved. He’s seen the value of the franchise increase steadily since he bought it for $173 million in 1993.
Then again, maybe Angelos is tired of being the most hated man in Baltimore. The O’s have been bad for a while now. They’ve had nine straight losing seasons. And the reason for all the losing is clear: Angelos is the worst kind of owner. He insists on playing a prominent role in personnel decisions, but he doesn’t know anything about talent evaluation. He’ll spend money, but he’ll spend it on all the wrong players (see: Albert Bell, Sammy Sosa, Sidney Ponson, Kris Benson, Miguel Tejada).
On a personal note, I was born in Baltimore. My parents grew up in Baltimore. Most of my extended family still lives in Baltimore. Watching the Orioles deteriorate into an also-ran in the AL East has been sad, to say the least. And the team’s decline has come at the worst time for the city, which has also fell on hard times of late. If you haven’t been keeping up with the state of affairs in Baltimore, watch HBO’s “The Wire,” which ESPN’s The Sports Guy has dubbed “my favorite TV show of all-time.”
I was driving through my parents’ old neighborhood a few weeks ago and noticed that the streets are now bathed in a flashing blue light. The cause: the Baltimore Police Department has put cameras at the top of the lamp posts and the lights are there to make sure criminals know that they’re being watched. The security measure is a good and necessary one, but the flashing light makes one feel like they’ve stumbled into a post-apocalypse scene from some futuristic sci-fi movie.
Baltimore needs the Orioles now more than ever. And the Orioles need Cal Ripken.