Baltimore Orioles: Cal Ripken Jr. New MLB Youth Programs Advisor
The Baltimore Orioles own Iron Man may have hung up his spikes, but he remains extremely active throughout Major League Baseball and the Orioles organization. Amongst all the off-season rumors and prospective moves teams are talking about during the MLB winter meetings, Cal Ripken Jr. is still making headlines.
Ripken is the CEO and President of Ripken Baseball, an organization that focuses on developing youth baseball through camps and tournaments. He owns the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles and also works for TBS as a baseball analyst, while simultaneously running the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, a charity that aims to help create structure, build character and teach life lessons to at risk children.
Sep 1, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles former players Cal Ripken Jr. waves to the crowd before throwing out the first pitch on the 20th anniversary of breaking Lou Gehrig
Today, the Hall of Fame Shortstop was named the MLB Youth Programs Advisor and in my mind there is no better man for the job.
Ripken already is extremely active within youth baseball and his belief that youth players should be active in multiple sports is a view that many people have shied away from over the past decade.
The belief that youth baseball players need to engulf themselves in a single sport year round has unfortunately become popular. More than ever before, kids are now playing on their middle school or high school teams in the spring and participating in Little League or AAU fall ball, which leaves no room for youth athletes to broaden their horizons and find other sports to engage in.
The thought behind playing baseball all year round is, if you never stop playing, you will always improve. The obvious end goal here is to leave high school with either a scholarship to play in college or earn your high school diploma while already creeping onto a major league teams radar.
The reality of this matter is that an overwhelming majority of youth players will not receive scholarships to play on big-time college teams and close to none of those youth players will receive attention from major league scouts.
In fact some may say that playing baseball year round is the reason for the recent influx in young players injuring themselves and having to go through Tommy John surgery before they are even legal to buy a beer.
This is by no means only relevant in baseball. The same issues can be seen in basketball and football. If you follow the NFL or College football at all, you can attest to the crazy amount of non-contact injuries that have been endured this year, which are due in large part to over lifting, under stretching and overusing the same muscle groups day in and day out.
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Cal Ripken’s viewpoint on this matter is exactly what baseball needs. By engaging with young baseball players and exposing them to other sports, Ripken will help baseball bring back all around athletes.
Now I am not saying there will be another Bo Jackson out on the field any time soon, but athletes are diverse, they can adapt and they can pick up new skills quickly. If there were more all around, pure athletes, on more major league teams, managers blood pressure and anxiety levels wouldn’t sky rocket when their star athletes tweak a muscle and have to sit out 5-10 games.