I'm rushing around this morning, which seems to be my usual routine, but I wanted to post some comments from Cal Ripken before getting ready for the Wall to Wall Baseball show on MASN - I'm on the air from 11 a.m. to noon - and the doubleheader at Camden Yards.
Who needs sleep?
We'll find out later today if Brian Roberts' stomach pains were a virus or something more serious that could put him on the disabled list and free up a spot for a reliever if the bullpen is stretched too thin. A player on the 40-man roster such as Troy Patton can be called up today if another player goes on the DL. Otherwise, it has to be a non-roster player.
We'll also find out whether Robert Andino and Cesar Izturis will be double play partners for both ends of the doubleheader. J.J. Hardy is day-to-day.
Anyway, I spoke to Ripken over the phone a few days ago, and I asked him about this year's team and whether he noticed the extra enthusiasm that's swept over the city. I also wondered if he thought the Orioles could contend this year.
"There's been a big buzz," he replied. "Buck (Showalter) coming on board made everybody turn their heads and look a little bit, and the successful stretch last year is still amazing in my estimation. In a division where everyone was playing for real and playing for a playoff spot, we were competing against them and playing really well down the stretch. That was huge, the record we were able to amass at the end of the year. And then the moves we made in the off-season and having a full spring training, you could see the team come together.
"You want to stop yourself from getting too giddy and too excited about it. You know the nature of it. You don't snap your fingers and make it happen. But I think it was truly extraordinary, what happened when Buck came aboard, and the offseason moves, and I think, 'why not?'" And maybe you think about the '89 season. After the horrible '88 season, building with young players, in the back of my mind I'm thinking, 'Why Not?'"
The second reference has to be written "Why Not?" Especially when it's coming from Ripken, who played on that '89 team. And that's exactly how he meant it.
Ripken has been impressed by Showalter since the beginning, and especially after watching a game with him in Aberdeen and talking baseball for hours. Showalter has stated that he could have stayed there all night picking Ripken's brain and exchanging ideas and philosophies.
So what about the similarities between Showalter and Earl Weaver?
"I never played for Buck, so I can't compare him to Earl, but as baseball guys, they both live and sleep baseball," Ripken said. "Buck certainly does it 24 hours a day. He's just into it, all aspects of it. I guess the comparison would be they're both good baseball guys. Earl was a motivator. I'm not sure whether Buck is a motivator beyond knowing baseball and paying attention to all the details. Earl paid attention to details, but not in the way that Buck does. I think Earl let his staff handle all the different things. Certainly, Buck pays attention to every detail.
"It goes back to what my Dad always said, 'If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.' That always stuck with me. And it seems like, watching Buck, he says, 'If we're going to do this, whether it's a spring training game or running drills, we're going to do it right.' And that pays off a lot in execution."