- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

PHILADELPHIA One could argue that Cal Ripken has always been one step ahead of everyone else. So it seems perfectly appropriate that this generation's most beloved baseball player will get the chance to end his storied career before the rest of the game ends its regular season.
Ripken and the Baltimore Orioles will conclude their 2001 season at Camden Yards on Oct. 6, one day before the baseball season's official finale, Major League Baseball announced yesterday.
Avoiding a potential conflict with the Baltimore Ravens' Oct. 7 home game at PSINet Stadium, the Orioles were granted permission by the commissioner's office to hold their finale against the Boston Red Sox on Oct. 6 at 7:05 p.m.
Seven games were lost in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington: Sept. 11-13 against the Toronto Blue Jays (rescheduled for Oct. 1-3) and Sept. 14-16 against Boston (rescheduled for Oct. 4-6, including a day-night doubleheader on Oct. 5).
"Given the circumstances we were faced with, the schedule is as good as we could get it," Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said.
All seven postponed games will be made up in the order they were originally scheduled, thus tickets will be honored in the same fashion. Tickets from the Sept. 16 game against the Red Sox will be used for the Oct. 6 finale.
The scheduling announcement touched off a flurry of buying and selling on the Internet auction site EBay. Fans furiously sought to dump their tickets for Sept. 30 and buy seats for the Oct. 6 game, though both the Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 games were previously sold out.
More than 100 auctions were listed for each game last night, with predictably far more interest in the new last game than the old one. Prices for choice seats at Camden Yards topped $225 each for the Oct. 6 game.
Some tickets are still available for the remaining five October games.
"The tragic events of last week have put us in an unprecedented position," said Joe Foss, Orioles chief operating officer. "The situation is one that no one could anticipate. We have tried to make this rescheduling as fair and logical as possible."
Baltimore's make-up games would have been finalized last Friday with the rest of baseball's, but the Ravens conflict (along with a couple of other factors) led to difficulties. The NFL game is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff, and given the need to share parking lots and deal with traffic in an orderly manner, the Orioles would not have been able to play until 8:30 or 9 p.m.
By bumping their first make-up game against the Toronto Blue Jays to Oct. 1 that was to be a day off for all teams the Orioles can now fit seven games in six days, finish their season on a Saturday and avoid playing the same day as the Ravens.
Scheduling the finale for a Saturday night proved to be important for the Orioles because it allows the game to be televised by their local broadcasters, Comcast SportsNet. Fox Sports holds exclusive rights to Saturday afternoon games, but waved them and will now televise Ripken's last game alongside the Orioles' broadcast.
"The two things we were trying to do was avoid the Ravens conflict. We also wanted to preserve the local rightsholder's opportunity to televise the game," Stetka said.
The changing of dates required some participation among other teams as well. The Blue Jays agreed to start their first series one day early, as did the Red Sox and Devil Rays, who will play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Tampa Bay to allow the Boston-Baltimore series to begin Thursday.
Out of luck are those who bought tickets to this Sunday's Orioles-Yankees game at Camden Yards figuring it would be Ripken's last home game and those who planned to travel to New York for the Sept. 30 game that was supposed to be his last game ever.
Stetka said the team will still hold some type of special celebration this weekend, more along the lines of a "Fan Appreciation Day" with some element of Ripken tribute.
Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this article.

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