Thursday, April 11, 2013
Nolan Ryan, Rangers better together
By Jean-Jacques Taylor ESPNDallas.com
It's all good between Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers. Let us all rejoice.
For now, there is no Jimmy Johnson-Jerry Jones rift between the Jon Daniels faction and the Ryan faction that could ultimately wreck the momentum this franchise has generated over the past few seasons.
Now we can go about the business of baseball in Arlington. Yes, Daniels runs the day-to-day baseball operation, as he has been doing for years. And if Rangers ownership believed it had to choose between the 66-year-old Texas legend and the 35-year-old general manager, then giving JD authority made perfect sense.
Fortunately, they don't have to choose.
"After productive discussions the last several weeks with Ray Davis and Bob Simpson about the structure of our organization, together we are moving forward," Ryan said in a statement. "In my role as CEO, I am focused on working closely with ownership and with Jon Daniels and Rick George to build on the success of the past five years and to bring a championship to Arlington."
Ryan's decision to stay with the franchise is best for the organization, JD, ownership and -- get this -- Ryan.
The Rangers didn't have to choose between Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels and now can get back to the business of baseball.
It's best for the organization because Ryan remains the kind of icon whose name alone can get a meeting with the top free agents in baseball. As we've seen, the Ryan name alone can't close a deal, but teams that can't get a meeting don't have any chance to close.
Ryan can also continue to have an influence in the development of the organization's pitchers, whether it's advice for an offseason conditioning plan or a grip for throwing a tighter curveball.
It's good for JD because it means he doesn't have to deal with the silly notion that he ran Ryan out of town or engineered some master plan to usurp Ryan's power and authority.
It's good for ownership, Simpson and Davis, because they were going to get the brunt of fan backlash if Ryan left the organization. They typically reside in the shadows, but the Ryan drama had placed them under the uncomfortable glare of the spotlight.
"Over the years, Nolan has made extraordinary contributions to the Texas Rangers organization, both on and off the field, including providing valuable guidance to Jon Daniels and Rick George," Davis and Simpson said in a joint statement. "His leadership as our chief executive -- with both baseball and business operations reporting to him -- has been vital to our success and offers us a bright future."
Ryan owns Texas like no other state. Staying in Texas with the Rangers made the most sense.
After all, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has gutted that organization. The Astros are the worst team in the American League, and the only question regarding their season is whether they'll lose 100 games. Or 110. Or more.
Ryan, who joined the Rangers' front office in 2008, is about winning. He can't do that in Houston, which made staying with the Rangers the only smart choice.
To do that, Ryan had to subjugate his ego -- no easy task someone who has been "the man" for 40 years. There's no doubt he's been angry about having his power taken away, and there's no shame in that. No one wants to be a figurehead, a Las Vegas greeter, if you will. Ryan deserves a larger role. His wisdom and approach to management affects this franchise in a positive manner.
Ryan had every right to be mad; change is hard for all of us. It's no coincidence Ryan hasn't spoken publicly since the Rangers announced his change in responsibilities.
All we've gotten is a couple of statements. He didn't even attend Elvis Andrus' news conference to announce the eight-year, $130 million extension the shortstop signed with Rangers. Make of that what you will.
But all of the drama, at least for this season, is over. Ryan has returned to the fold, and the Rangers are better for it.