It’s probably irrational, but the bottom line is Ripken instantly becomes the new face of the franchise, a living baseball legend, larger in stature than anyone he will manage for perhaps the rest of his career. After the windfall of revenue the hiring would produce is the real possibility that a potential National League champion roster could be dwarfed by its manager’s celebrity.
Oates didn’t have that problem because of Alex Ovechkin’s fame.
“He’s bigger than the players,” he said. “They know that. The first thing you got to do is get to their level, like, ‘I’m not here to show you I’m better than you.’ No. You got to convince them that you’re here for the right reasons.”
Finally, from one Hall of Fame player trying to cut it as a coach to perhaps another, Oates’s advice to Ripken was simple: Don’t worry about getting fired. It’s going to happen.
“I think if you come into the job being careful, you’re crazy,” Oates said. “You got to come in thinking you’re not going to last. It’s the nature of the beast, right? There’s a stress that goes with that, but if that affects you, then you’re going to make mistakes.”
“I’m not worried about getting fired,” he added. “I’m really not. I was worried about getting fired looking like I don’t know what I’m doing. So I think we’ve conquered that. But the day will come. If it happens, it happens. You do your best and you move on, find the next job.”
I’m sorry. I just can’t get my head around Cal ever being fired — as a manager, broadcaster, mechanic, plumber, teacher, anything. I mean, it’s Cal. Even if he was a bad manager, d
o the Lerners want that on their conscience like Mr. Pollin when he fired Jordan? (Wait, don’t answer that. Mr. P was actually glad to see Michael go.)
Before I left Oates’s office Wednesday, he wanted to know if Ripken was actually serious about managing. I told him, yes, if the right job came along.
“You think it would have been with the Orioles,” he said. “Obviously Buck [Showalter] is doing a great job, but that’s crazy to me. If he really wants to, you’d think it would be with the Orioles organization first.”
Hmmm, Peter Angelos or the Lerner family? Who would you rather work for? Let’s ask Davey Johnson.
For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.