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Ripken back to the Orioles?

Cal Ripken Jr. issued a statement yesterday regarding recent rumors O’s owner Peter Angelos rejected his proposition of working for the team.

After confirming Angelos’ denial that the Orioles owner did not turn Ripken down (that, in fact, no such offer was made), Ripken did confirm they have been talking:

I have enjoyed those talks very much, and yes the subject has been broached about me potentially joining the organization. I look forward to those talks continuing.

I have been consistent in my statements about a return to baseball since my retirement in 2001. With my son Ryan approaching the end of high school in a couple of years I have been thinking more seriously about a return to the big league game. I am more excited now to explore all opportunities and find the right situation that could lead me to the next phase of my life.

I have said and written many times that Cal Ripken is a guy who just never seems to mess up. He was a role model on the field during his career and has continued that example off the field in his business career.

If he returned to the Orioles now, it would be a mistake. After a dozen losing seasons and a 2-12 start this year, O’s fans are ready to jump on ANYTHING significant and hail it as a tidal wave of new hope for the organization.

Realistically, Ripken cannot single-handedly turn the Orioles from losers into winners, but that’s what the expectation will be if he signs back on now. Ripken is so revered that if he doesn’t meet expectations, he’s not going to lose fans. But my bet is he’ll lose some respect. There will be a chink in the armor.

Of course, now that the cat’s out of the bag, things are more difficult if Ripken ends up not joining the team. If both parties do the PR-neutral thing and announce together that they agreed to keep things as they are, Angelos will probably be blamed by Baltimore fans.

If Angelos offers Ripken a job and Ripken declines, well, Angelos will still probably be blamed because that’s just how O’s fans roll now.

But Ripken won’t look too good either.