Cal Ripken Jr. entering the unveiling ceremony. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
Cal Ripken Jr. just talked before first pitch about his newly unveiled sculpture (and other things).
Here are a few quick quotes for you:
On the ceremony: “It’s a totally different experience (than the other unveilings). I missed Frank’s, then I’ve come to every one since. They’re a little bit nerve-wracking, a little bit emotional. Many of the ones have mentioned my dad; Jim mentioned him, Eddie mentioned him and it starts to get you thinking. So today I thought by preparing a speech and practicing it about 100 times I could get the emotion out of the speech, but sure enough at the moment of truth, it hits you, which I guess is a really good thing.”
On the timing of the unveiling and the Orioles’ current run: “I think it is really symbolic of the connection to Orioles’ history and the Orioles’ past. And it’s very appropriate. This team right here this year is playing so well. It’s a huge series so there is a lot of great excitement out there. … Certainly it adds to it when you play the Yankees, but this is an exciting time for this team.”
On the team: “You look around, they have all-star caliber players at different positions and the question always is, for every team, is the pitching going to keep you in the ballgames. And the pitching, although it has changed a little bit, we’ve found some surprises in the second half, the pitching is keeping you in there. The Orioles are playing really well. I don’t think anybody could have projected, I think everybody was hoping that they would continue to develop and be challenging for the wild card. But this is exciting.”
On his statue making a defensive play: “The backhand kind of stretch play in the hole, I made that many times. I was longer, I was rangier, I was bigger. That signified, or symbolized, a bigger person playing the position of shortstop and I was very proud of the success I had there.”
On Manny Machado: “You can’t help but be impressed. His poise, his maturity, I think him coming in playing third base has helped stabilize the Orioles’ defense. They had for a while a revolving door between third base and first base, there were a lot of different players there. And it’s OK to utilize your players in different roles ... but there is a value of having the stability of one person in that position and when I look at Manny, I had a chance to talk to him at the All-Star Game, he really understands himself, he really understands the game and he understands what he has to work on and I think ultimately it will help him a lot by playing third if he does go back to shortstop, he’ll be a better shortstop as a result of his experiences at third. But right now the Orioles are a better team with him playing third every day.”