Outside of a very small blog post I have pretty much avoided writing anything concerning Nolan Ryan and the imbroglio currently taking place with the Texas Rangers front office. What has happened in the past couple of weeks has seemed to divide fans of the team into two groups: those who knew Jon Daniels built the World Series teams and those who believe Nolan Ryan built them.
I’m not going to try and take anything away from Ryan at all. The man is a hero and legend in Texas. He’s respected by virtually everyone in baseball. But there are a lot of myths and mis-truths surrounding him. I’d like to break down a few of them.
Nolan Ryan Saved the Texas Rangers
In a way that is true. He partnered with Chuck Greenberg who then put together an ownership team that included principal owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. Greenberg built the ownership team but it was Ryan’s presence that helped beat out Jim Crane in buying the team from a bankrupt Tom Hicks. Nolan later forced Greenberg out after they butted heads on several topics.
Without Nolan the Rangers Wouldn’t Have Gone to the World Series
Not true at all. Nolan didn’t join the organization until spring of 2008. By then Jon Daniels had already acquired the nucleus of what would be the AL winning teams of 2010 and 2011: Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. Later on Daniels landed Bengie Molina, Cliff Lee, Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre. Fans also have to keep in mind that Nolan was initially against the pursuit of Yu Darvish until Daniels arranged for him and Darvish to have dinner together.
Nolan Ryan Signs Players
Nolan has never signed anybody for the Texas Rangers. That’s not what a CEO and (now no longer) President does. The way it works is that the GM arranges the deals and then presents them to the CEO. If the CEO believes it is a good deal he then gets approval from the owners. The GM is the person who sets up trade proposals and signing agreements. Nolan was instrumental, however, in convincing Jon Daniels that Texas needed to sign Roy Oswalt. So while he can wield influence Nolan cannot just go out and sign people.
Nolan Ryan Brought Aboard Jackie Moore and Mike Maddux
Well really but not really. The Rangers had two candidates for pitching coach and Nolan, who had been friends with Maddux back in Houston, suggested that they go with Mike. And as far as Jackie Moore goes that was Ron Washington’s choice after he was presented with two choices. And speaking of Ron Washington, Nolan initially wanted him out after Ron’s admission to using cocaine the prior season. Jon Daniels convinced Ryan to let him stay.
Now all of this is not to say that Nolan doesn’t do anything at all. He does have influence with the team. The players love playing under him. He also changed the team’s philosophy when it comes to pitching. However, that doesn’t mean that the team would simply dump his ideals when he’s gone. Nolan is also a good guy to have when the team is trying to sign a player. As I said before he is respected throughout the game. If Jon Daniels is having trouble convincing a player to sign then he could have Nolan talk to them.
I do not believe that Ryan is going anywhere anytime soon. He loves the game just as much as he loves Texas. Heck he IS Texas. But you can guarantee that once he does leave it won’t be as large of an impact as one might think. The team will still be in capable hands and will continue to develop a winning product.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com and is the creator of the blog at clawandantlernation.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.