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Cal Ripken happy for Orioles, but objective for postseason work on TV

Cal Ripken Jr. watches batting practice prior to

Cal Ripken Jr. watches batting practice prior to the National League Wild Card game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park October 1, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Credit: Getty Images

Cal Ripken Jr. does not deny he is pleased about the Orioles' first AL East championship since 1997, when he still played for the team, as you might recall.

But he does not believe it will affect his professional responsibilities when he works games involving the team for Turner during the upcoming Major League Baseball postseason.

"When you are from there, you are watching them, you have an affinity for them because you played for them and you are happy for them," he told Newsday last week at an event in Manhattan promoting Turner's playoff coverage.

"I remember the first broadcast opportunity I had [in 2012], I was doing the Orioles-Yankees series and everyone was worried that I was going to be biased on the air toward the Orioles. I think I overdid it toward the other side.

"But I think I can objectively look at the game. My job is not to root for a team; it's to interpret what's going on in the game. It's easy to look at the game itself. I'm not a fan rooting.

"Being I'm from there, I live there. It would be unrealistic to think I don't think those thoughts or I'm not watching to check the scoreboard to see what the Orioles are doing. That's all normal. But when you get into calling a game, you are looking at the facts of the game. You're looking at how it's unfolding."

Does Ripken think having a franchise such as the Orioles back on top after nearly two decades dominated by the Yankees and Red Sox is good for the game?

"I think it's fantastic, because it proves it is about the baseball; it is about the baseball knowledge," he said. "The model is like Kansas City and Tampa Bay and what they've done. It is about the baseball decisions and how they play the game."

Ripken said he never had anything against the Yankees, even when they were winning all the time.

"What's funny to me is when you compete against the Yankees, people think you hate the Yankees," he said. "It's the opposite of the truth. You respect the Yankees and what they've accomplished . . . You look to them as the model you would kind of want to beat. So it's not a cutthroat competition.

"Competition can get heated. But in the end, a lot of Oriole fans automatically assume that you hate the Yankees and to me, it's the opposite. So you don't bring that into the booth."

Ripken never will be a garrulous figure as a TV analyst, but he has loosened up since he first gave TV a try.

"Anytime you do something different, there is a point where you have to figure out how you do it," he said. "You have to ask yourself, can you do it? Yeah, you have the knowledge and insight but how does it all work? What is the timing, what is the functionality of the booth, or a three-man booth, and who has the responsibilities in there?

"It's not just what you know. It's doing it at the right time and sometimes just not saying anything. You want to fill that air with something. But you do realize it's more relaxing [when you have experience]. Ron Darling is fantastic. He's been really good for me, because he is an experienced broadcaster and understands the ins and outs and nuances. He was really good for me last year. He helped guide me.

"For me personally, it's a learning opportunity. I don't get the reps during the course of the season, so it takes years to sort of feel a little bit more comfortable, but I do feel more comfortable watching a game and knowing how it works."

New York Sports