Cal Ripken

Is Cal Ripken going to buy the Orioles one day?

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This is a couple of steps farther down the grapevine than even I’m used to relaying, but my friend Rex Snider at WNST in Baltimore passes along some interesting gossip:

According to celeb-O’s fan, Roy Firestone, he received some possible inside information that indicated Peter Angelos might be readying the Orioles for a sale to local investors. Better yet, the group is supposedly headed by Cal Ripken.

On Saturday night, Firestone attended an event with Orioles greats, such as Brooks and Frank Robinson. The event provided Firestone with his information on the possible upcoming sale of the ballclub.

Firestone has been quick to point out his “source” is confidential. However, he has also identified this same source as one of credibility in past dealings – and, one who has the connections to know such information.

It’s still gossip, and Rex is quick to note that this is (a) just stuff he’s hearing; and (b) isn’t about anything imminent.

But even if it doesn’t happen I find it interesting, if for no other reason than it makes me wonder more about faces of the franchise buying their old teams.  We have Nolan Ryan in Texas already and as time goes on — and as richer and richer former players decide to get active in the business word — we’ll probably see more of it.

I get it as a marketing idea — Rangers fans are understandably more excited about Nolan Ryan calling the shots than some leveraged buyout artist — but it runs counter to another couple of notions with which we’ve become acquainted in recent years.

One of which is ex-jocks not faring very well in the front office. Matt Millen and Isiah Thomas, anyone? Another is of how upset we tend to get when ownership meddles with baseball operations.  We get chafed when the Yankees are allegedly telling Brian Cashman  what to do.  Why are we going to be any happier about this when Cal Ripken or Nolan Ryan does it? Just because they played the game doesn’t mean they’re better at second guessing the people actually hired to make such calls. They’re just a bigger name doing the second-guessing.

Writing about Cal Ripken owning the Orioles makes for great copy and it may even sell some tickets if it ever comes to pass.  But I think, as a matter of substance, it’s overblown and possibly even counterproductive for the former hero to come back and “save” the team.

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.

Cubs are seeking a court order against unlicensed vendors

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If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”

[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.

While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.

Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.

This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.

The club’s full complaint can be found here.