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Chatting with the Iron Man

You can't get much more Baltimore than Cal Ripken, so in launching this here blog, it only made sense for us to pull some words of wisdom from the Iron Man. Ripken has spent much of his post-playing career devising ways to pass the lessons he learned from his father on to the next generation of would-be baseball stars. In his latest venture, a joint project with MLB.com, he will sell online lessons in which he splices instructional video, diagrams and major league highlights. In promoting GetGreat.com, Ripken fielded a few questions from the Toy Department.

TD: Is this your first deep foray into Web instruction?

Cal:  We always felt that we had great content, but this opportunity with MLB.com gave us the perfect place to put all that stuff. We always used the expression with my dad that he was the encyclopedia of baseball. Well now, we feel like this can be a living, evolving encyclopedia of baseball. We can take real, live big league footage, put a voice over it, put diagrams in it. We can cement those teachings that I had passed on to me.

TD: Are you a frequent Web surfer?

Cal: I've learned to use certain tools when I want to learn something. I use it in a boring sort of way, looking for training aids, field design stuff, overhead shots of various minor league parks. It used to be you would have to make a site visit for a lot of that stuff. Now, you can find it pretty readily at the tips of your fingers. I also have it set so that MLB comes up first. It's great for watching footage so I can do some scouting and get familiar for the work I do at TBS. I can't get by without a computer anymore.

TD: When did you become a serious computer user?

Cal: About halfway through my career, I bought a laptop. I designed some databases to keep my own information on pitchers and I would use it on team flights and stuff.

TD: Of course, the issue on all of our minds right now is the economy. How does the economy impact Cal Ripken?

Cal: You have to start examining all aspects of your business and when you see things going the wrong way, you have to be super tight. The first step is looking for early indicators on the [minor league] season. I can tell you that so far, we're getting hit a little bit on sponsorships. But as far as campers and people renewing their tickets, things haven't changed much. It's affordable family entertainment, so maybe that's the last thing to go when people are figuring out their budgets.

TD: Were you as fascinated by last year's presidential election as much of America?

Cal: As you get older, I think you naturally look around you more. But I've always thought I had to be very careful if I ever wanted to use my platform to get involved with politics. I've never been comfortable taking that step.

TD: But did you enjoy following it, just as a story?

Cal: Generally speaking, as you get older, issues do become more important. I was laughing with Kelly the other day about how our parents used to sit and read the paper every day. And you just have no interest in that as a young person, but as you get older, those habits do set in.

TD: Did you take it as a positive sign for the Orioles' future that Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts signed long-term extensions in the offseason?

Cal: Well, I say this without having talked to Andy [MacPhail] about it, but it certainly seems their plan is to fully rebuild where, at times in the past, they maybe tried to half rebuild and half compete. I think with the trades of [Erik] Bedard and [Miguel] Tejada, they got 10 quality prospects, and those guys are starting to get aligned. With Brian Roberts, you have a mainstay, a player you can market around and a guy who still has a lot left in the tank. Markakis is a potential superstar guy. It was good to see him find that kind of stability. Those are anchors you can build around so I applaud both of those moves.

TD: Which players do you most enjoy watching now?

Cal: I always like to watch guys at the shortstop position, to see the evolution of what's happening there. I got a chance to watch a lot more of the National League with TBS and Jose Reyes is certainly a sensational player. David Wright, it's hard not to be impressed with him. B.J. Upton, with his athletic way of playing the outfield, is fun to watch. He almost made me think of Paul Blair. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia. I'm enamored with those guys. They remind me of a [Lou] Whitaker-[Alan] Trammell situation, where they've had the chance to get better together.

TD: I know it's a tired issue, but I have to ask your reaction to A-Rod's announcement that he used steroids?

Cal: I was shocked and surprised. I was glued to the TV, to try to watch and know what was going on with him. There's sadness involved because I've known him well. You think about the choice and wonder what it is that would cause Alex ... you could see that kind of talent with him so early on, so why would he make that choice? It's not good for the cloud hanging over baseball.

TD: Did it hit you harder because Alex has often talked about you as a model for his game?

Cal: I have a personal relationship with him, because I've known him since he was 16. You take pride in his success and marvel at his talent. I didn't want to think that about Alex. It makes you think that the problem was far bigger than what we thought. But at the same time, I think Derek Jeter is right. It wasn't everyone.

AP photo

Comments

A fair question for Cal would be when does the downward slide of this once proud franchise reverse itself ?

Cal Jr., I have a book of you that my oldest Grandson gave to me. It was signed by You also, your Mom and Dad, but I was wondering how I could get your Brother Bill's autograph as well?! Thanks so much in advance

Gray suit? Tennessee Vols-orange tie? Man, those colors look awful on him. When is Cal going to learn his color season is Summer?

Just being facetious, of course, but truly, black and orange are not his colors, ironically enough.

Cal, can't you just answer a simple question posed to you? No one was asking you to endorse a candidate. You were simply asked- TWICE- if you were caught up in the excitment- or not- of the Presidential election. And you gave the most wishy-washy, bland, politically "safe" non-answer I have ever heard an actual professional politician give. Your overplaying of staying safe and being the most whitebread of whitebread disappoints me greatly,

The public might have been interested in how you felt about this election, but no more after your cowardly reply.

Pathetic. You are now officially irrelevent.

Cal. Always trying to figure out what happened after that great season in '91. You had that squat, knees bent stance and roped everything all over the field. I thought, man, he finally found it and is going to put up some terrific numbers here on out. Then you proceed to hit .250 the next two years.

By the way, you are pretty boring. I know not having a college degree bugs you but stop trying to sound so darned educated.

Once a Cal Fan—

could you be anymore of a giant DBAG? I don’t care what Cal thinks about politics, I do care what he thinks about baseball.

As an accomplished business owner, commentator and now in a partnership with MLB, how does that make him irrelevant? Look at your post, which sounds like your whole life is irrelevant, now that is truly pathetic.

I agree bms. As big a fan as I am of Cal Jr., I don't want to know is political views. Besides, I have a feeling he and I might disagree profoundly on the issues (just a hunch, I could be wrong). If I had a son, I would want Cal to teach my boy all he knows about baseball, except batting stances! :-)

Once a Cal Fan--

do you need a hug? if you need a hug let me know, because apparently you need to feel loved.

yikes.


cal's is
like most ball players of his era,
they were self-centered.

unlike the late roberto clemente who
gave his life in helping others....

if he did not have the streak and
television of the modern day era,
he would be mostly forgotten...

his play inspired the orioles to
lose the majority of his time in
baltimore. sorry just the facts....

one world championship in 17-18 years does not constitute a legend.

Hey- you oversensitive Cal-protectors. The point wasn't that we wanted to hear his Political views. Some of us would've liked to hear his views as an American! You obviously missed the line of questioning that the the writer of this blog was going with. He simply asked him if "Were you as fascinated by last year's presidential election as much of America?" He refused to answer. He was then asked "But did you enjoy following it, just as a story?" Again, Cal- the Mega businessman entrepreneur mogul, fearing to alienate anyone, couldn't or wouldn't share a thought. We know nothing more than we already knew about this local, home-own boy made good, whose Baseball accomplishments we are well-acquainted with, but whose feelings and opinions on other matters- we are not.

But we could have.

If only Cal had agreed to play ball.

This is what human interest stories are about and the kind of information which humanize a public figure. It was just ridiculous that Cal couldn't share one relevent thought about a major event in American History and growth.

And that makes me a "DBAG" and "needing a hug" for pointing this out?

Sheesh!

yes, the answer to your question is "yes"

Unfortunately, when a person is in the public eye as Cal certainly is, he has to be almost hyper careful about what he says. For me, just the fact he played all those years at that level, not to mention the streak.. If boring means he wasn't involved with drugs, affairs, whatever, I'll take some more of that. Real Heros are always quiet.
Ever notice that?

Cal Ripken Jr, a true baseball legend. Always handles himself with class and dignity. Cal has always stayed loyal to his home and made his community stronger.


We love you Cal!


Hey "Once A Cal Fan"

Yeah, DBag.

If I asked you how your sex life was so that I could post it on the internet where potentially millions of people could see it and analyze it, you wouldn't want to answer the question. If you say "no comment," it makes you look like you're hiding something or like you're a jerk for not answering the question.

The Iron Man's personal politiCAL views are none of your damn business, just like your sex life isn't any of our business. He was just being polite by trying to answer without saying anything.

Pathetic? Irrelevant? Cowardly? Get a life, loser boy.

And Bob M . . . wow. Cal has done more for Baltimore and in a Baltimore uniform than any other single pro athlete. Not a legend? Please feel free to, as the Aussie's say, "bite me crank, mate."


cal is a legend in your baltimores'
small minds....

outside of baltimore he was
an adequate shortstop. nothing
spectacular... just a big man playing
out of position...

if he had played in brooks robinson's
third base position. would he
be the greatest 3b of the century??

i really do not think so....just look
at the 70 world series and you will
see the greatest oriole of all time...''

unfortunately the orioles organization
shows its class and has alienated
the truly great orioles.......

Thank you, Mr Ripken, for not taking the interviewer's bait.Class will out.

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