Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Team USA Can't Lose

Not with Bill Ripken coaching. This spring Ripken will be where he was born to be, in a dugout surrounded by Major League ballplayers. Ripken was chosen by Manager Davey Johnson to be one of his assistant coaches for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Since retiring from a 12 year MLB career Bill has been the Co-Owner and Executive Vice President of Ripken Baseball. Along with his brother Cal, they have built a baseball empire in their hometown of Aberdeen, MD. So whether it's teaching a seven year old how to field a ground ball, designing baseball stadiums, or running baseball franchises, it's baseball 24/7 for the Ripkens. Along the way Bill has become one of the premier baseball instructors in the world. His enthusiasm for the game translates equally as well to an 8 year old, as it does a proven major league veteran. If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting Bill it's an experience I'm sure you haven't forgotten. He certainly brings a presence.

When I wrote that Russ Grimm is the picture and epitome of a football coach, the same is to be said for Cal Ripken Sr. And when I look at Bill, I see Cal Sr. What I'd like to see is Bill on the Orioles bench for the next dozen years or so, and Cal in the owner's box. But, I guess Peter Angelos isn't as smart as I am. I mean it's really easy to figure out, Ripken = Oriole. "The Oriole way" was lost long ago. Because the Oriole way is "The Ripken way," born over 30 years ago in the lower levels of the Oriole's minor leagues.

So for now, I'll root for the USA and Bill this March. I didn't follow the the Baseball Classic that closely 2 years ago. In fact, I was upset that it took a lot of the players away from the spring training games that I enjoy watching here in the Tampa area. However, this year I have a new found interest in our team and Bill succeeding.

Team USA will be training here in my backyard on March 1. I've noticed that a lot of players have been declining their invitations to play. I will tell you now Billy, that I will accept if you invite me to play. You know very well what I am capable of on the field. A career .550 hitter in the Ripken MLE, a figure that rises when facing Ripken pitching. I'm a little out of shape, but could still fill a Terry Crowley type of role (warning strong language) for Team USA!

Good luck Bill, and make sure you visit Lenny's they make the best meatballs, just like Mama used to make!

Cheers and Hail

No comments: