Angelos holds summit talk with Ripken O's owner, shortstop discuss leadership in cordial exchange

'An excellent discussion'

They plan to do lunch after road trip ends

June 30, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken and owner Peter Angelos spoke for about an hour yesterday morning, following Angelos' comment that the team "is in desperate need of leadership" and suggestion that Ripken should assume that responsibility.

Ripken and Angelos both said that the discussion was cordial, Angelos expanding on his comments for the player and Ripken explaining his side to the owner.

"To me, there's no problem whatsoever with Mr. Angelos," Ripken said.

Angelos, speaking from his home in Baltimore, indicated that he and Ripken made tentative plans to lunch together after the team returns from its current road trip.

"We had an excellent discussion," Angelos said of the conference call, which was arranged by Ripken's agent, Ron Shapiro, who also participated.

The episode began Thursday, as Ripken spoke to New York reporters. Among many comments, Ripken said the club was in the process of coming together. "People lose sight of the fact that we've assembled a team of new faces," he said Thursday. "The coaches are new. Management is new. It requires jelling. It's a process where we have to learn each other."

It was similar to comments made by other players this season, and Ripken said yesterday that he did not intend for it to be taken as a rationalization or an excuse for the team playing below expectations.

Angelos, after reading The Sun on Friday, expressed strong disagreement. Angelos noted that the Yankees, who also have a new manager and a host of new players, are in first place.

"I was mystified by the comments attributed to Cal, that one of the reasons the Orioles are underachieving is because of unfamiliarity with Davey Johnson and Pat Gillick," Angelos said, referring to the Orioles' manager and general manager. "To suggest the lack of familiarity with two of the most respected men in baseball, Johnson and Gillick, and the coaching staff, is a problem is simply off the mark."

The truth, Angelos continued, "is that this team is in desperate need of leadership on the field and around the clubhouse, and no one is more qualified than Cal Ripken to provide that leadership. If Cal accepts that challenge with as much zeal as he plays and goes about his business of preparing to play every day, there's no question the Orioles will be able to reach their potential."

Reporters approached Ripken for a response about an hour after Friday night's game, after Ripken had three hits and three RBIs and lifted weights for half an hour. Ripken, combative, told reporters he wanted to see all the articles and published comments in question before saying anything.

After seeing the original story that prompted Angelos' reaction, Ripken said his words were taken out of context, that the article "merged four or five different ideas and thoughts into one article into the direction [The Sun] wanted the article to go.

"I was talking about how well the team has played. I was actually accentuating the positive about what position we're in. We're supposed to get better as the season goes on. We're getting better as a team. The fact we have a new nucleus, we're gaining familiarity. We're playing together better. Therefore, we're getting better as a team. [The Sun] twisted it around to say that's a reason [the team hasn't played well]. . . . I never said "underachieving." I never said what the status of the club was."

Angelos and Ripken spent most of yesterday's conference call talking about leadership. Ripken told reporters later that he would've preferred to talk to Angelos directly, rather than react to comments made in the newspaper.

"Obviously, that would be the preferred way for things to happen," Ripken said. "If I had a problem or a thought, I'm not going to ever do it through the media. I'm going to call him directly myself. Everybody handles things in their own particular way. Sometimes, in the small picture, maybe it adds a little frustration in there. You never know how things are going to react.

"Now that I've got the facts and understand how it all happened, it's really inconsequential to me. It's really such a small thing that really doesn't even matter. I can't believe I'm spending this much time talking about it."

Ripken was asked about Angelos' comments on the need for leadership.

"I don't know the motivation behind that. . . . According to him, he wasn't offering it as a criticism," Ripken said. "He was offering it almost as a compliment to my stature. The way I understood it was, he's not questioning [my] leadership capabilities. . . . He thinks because of the stature of who I am, who I've become, I have significant other contributions to make. He's totally entitled to his opinion."

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