Ripken preparing for packed October on TBS

Ripken preparing for packed October on TBS

Ripken preparing for packed October on TBS
Cal Ripken Jr. was at home Tuesday morning using his MLB.TV subscription to watch archived games, and CC Sabathia was on his big screen. The Ironman was dissecting the Yankees' ace's latest start from a night earlier.

"I'm trying to keep up with the end of this regular season just like everybody else," Ripken said. "The electronics are wonderful, that you can go back and watch games. I'm spending the morning watching CC, because even though it was a blowout game, he's found himself. I wanted to see his pitch selection, how he's throwing. So I watch a lot of games that way."

Ripken is about to be a big part of your October again as a key member of Turner Sports' postseason coverage, appearing this time in the broadcast booth -- yes, maybe even Baltimore's -- as well as the studio in Atlanta. With a record 10 teams headed to the postseason and much yet to be decided, the TBS MLB analyst is having to do more homework than ever.

"It puts emphasis on where it should be -- win a game each and every day," Ripken said. "Winning baseball is what everybody wants, not what everybody gets.

"Adding the extra Wild Card knockout game, the real benefit is that a lot of teams stayed in this and it was good in September. But even better, you're looking at Oakland-Texas and the Orioles-Yankees, and the emphasis that places on winning the division is really great baseball right down to the edge. You have to play for that. In the past, there was a lot of planning; one would be division winner or Wild Card, and it didn't matter which. Now it matters."

TBS will offer extensive coverage of the postseason, beginning with the exclusive presentation of the first Wild Card presented by Budweiser on Friday. The network, in its sixth consecutive year televising the Division Series and one League Championship Series, will also be the exclusive home of up to 18 Division Series games and complete American League Championship Series coverage on TBS presented by the Capital One Cash Card.

For the network's coverage of the Wild Card and Division Series, TBS will feature a pair of three-man commentator teams: Ripken and fellow analyst John Smoltz, along with play-by-play man Ernie Johnson; as well as play-by-play announcer Brian Anderson, who called Roy Halladay's historic no-hitter on TBS during the 2010 National League Division Series, along with veteran analysts Ron Darling and Joe Simpson.

Division Series announcer teams also will include veteran play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton, joined in the booth once again by former MLB manager and longtime TV analyst Bob Brenly; and Don Orsillo (play-by-play) and Buck Martinez (analyst) will return for their sixth and fifth postseasons, respectively, with TBS.

Ripken doesn't know which Wild Card game he will work on Friday, but it is certainly a possibility that he could be right home in Baltimore, where he spent his whole career. If not there, then for a Division Series game, perhaps. Ripken had a test drive in the TBS booth earlier this season for a Yankees-Orioles game at Camden Yards.

"That first test, I used the word 'we' probably three or four times describing the Orioles," Ripken said. "I did it intentionally twice. I slipped once, and they said something and I said, 'Are you gonna call me on that?' After that, I did it for a reaction.

"I understand when the broadcast is going out that they're not just Orioles fans, you have to have a certain neutrality. In many ways, I like the Yankee team. I like a lot of players on the Yankees and have competed against some of them. I guess deep down in your heart, being from here and rooting for the Orioles, we all like a team or two deep down inside.

"It's in your DNA. Most people understand that, so I don't think it's a huge negative. It is who you are, where you spent your whole time."

Ripken, now 52, probably will have this gig for quite a while longer into his "retirement," because Turner Sports and FOX announced long-term contract extensions on Tuesday afternoon.

"I have no idea where I'll be this postseason, so I'm kind of sitting here waiting for the word," he said. "It's interesting and I'm going to have fun with it. I'm not taking it overly serious as a career move.

"When I've worked in the studio, I notice things in the green room at TBS, which never have a chance to be heard or seen, unless we put a camera in the green room, which would be entirely interesting. So hopefully as the game unfolds, you'll be able to give some insight that would be helpful."

In 1983, Ripken was in his second full season and the Orioles won their last World Series title. Now they are in the postseason again, but the road is much more difficult.

"The excitement has come back. Everyone's talking about it," Ripken said. "In many ways, if they're on the West Coast like they were in Seattle or Oakland, you fall asleep because you can't stay up. First thing you do in the morning is you check what happened. There for a while, it didn't matter that much. Now every game matters. Everyone's tuned to it. You've got the game on, with these devices, with your iPad, you're able to tune into situations where you weren't before.

"The Brooks Robinson Day for the statue unveiling, there was more orange in the ballpark, been a long time when Orioles fans totally filled every seat. Same with my statue unveiling. There's this energy that's come back. There's this magic. Buck [Showalter] has done a fantastic job. Players are very team-oriented, and the magic of those one-run games, the fans expect to win, but more importantly, the players when they get in those situations -- they expect to win."

What does Ripken expect this October?

"I don't know," he said. "That's great for baseball."

Also on TBS, the MLB On-Deck presented by Dodge Dart pregame show and Inside MLB presented by Captain Morgan postgame show will have in-depth game reports and postgame interviews from every Division Series game, as well as the ALCS and NLCS. Matt Winer will once again serve as studio host, alongside returning veteran analysts Dennis Eckersley and David Wells during the Division Series.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.