In Baltimore, we know Cal Ripken Jr. as The Iron Man. This week, he takes on a different moniker: baseball ambassador.
From Nov. 8-16, Ripken will take participate in a diplomatic mission through Japan, where he will conduct baseball and softball clinics in Tokyo, Takarazuka and Kyoto. Officially, Ripken will be functioning as a U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy, a State Department position that allows him to assume role of sports diplomat.
This is the third trip Ripken has taken in this capacity. He visited China in 2007 and Nicaragua in 2008. This time around, former Orioles teammate Brady Anderson will join Ripken, who will also visit Ofunato, which was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in March.
"We communicate through baseball," Ripken told The Associated Press. "Japan loves their baseball, maybe equally as much or more than we do. It's a fabric of their country in many ways, and in times of disaster or tragedy or when you're a little down, sometimes sports can be a distraction. So when we go over there, we're going to be communicating through baseball to give them a distraction and an enjoyment that's real."
While Ripken is half a world away, you can still keep in touch with him on MASNsports.com. He will share his video blogs frequently during his trip, beginning with today's entry, which examines the reasons for the mission and what Ripken expects to accomplish during the trip.
Be sure to check back on Orioles Buzz to catch the latest on Ripken's diplomatic sports mission to Japan.