Monday, March 11, 2013

The Ryan Game

It seems like a no-brainer.
If the Texas Rangers and Nolan Ryan are at odds, then the Texas Rangers do whatever it takes to fix it. After all, if there is one player in that franchise's history who is indubitably iconic, it's Ryan. If there's one guy who's not associated with all the sludge and insanity that this team has been heir to since Bob Short put it on a flatbead and hauled it out of DC, it's Ryan. If there's one guy who genuinely makes people feel good about the Texas Rangers, it's Ryan.

Because make no mistake, this franchise has never been covered in what you'd call glory. From the wreck of the S.S. David Clyde to the fact that an infielder once played a game with vomit in his hair, from the involvement in "Ten Cent Beer Night" to Jose Canseco head-butting a ball over the outfield wall, from the highly dubious financial shenanigans surrounding the building of their ballpark to the greedhead antics of former owner Tom Hicks, the Rangers have always found a way to aim a twelve-gauge squarely at their own feet. Only one figure from the team's past rises above that decades-old miasma - not Ruben Sierra, not "Igor" Gonzalez, not Jim Sundberg or Richie Zisk or Pudge Rodriguez (though he comes close).  And so it would seem a no-brainer not to alienate the guy.
Except, of course, it's never that easy. What has Ryan upset is the fact that during the off-season, the Rangers' front office was restructured, apparently giving more power to the GM and less to the CEO. And this might actualy be a very good idea. Under GM Jon Daniels, the team has steadily improved to the point where it's a perennial contender. Their farm system has been restored. They've become a player in international markets again. They've done well on the trade front. All of this seems like the purview of the GM, and if he's doing that kind of good work, well, you can do the math.
But ultimately, we don't know. We don't know how much of the Rangers' success is Daniels and how much isn't, how much is Ryan's work and how much isn't. We don't know how the power got reassigned, or what specifically Ryan is mad about. All we do know is that a guy who is apparently good at his job got some more authority, and that might be enough to slow the knee-jerk reaction, at least until we know more.
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