The (Almost) Impossible Choice

Nolan-JD
Nolan Ryan did not save the Rangers.

The franchise had been in Texas for almost 20 years before he ever put on the uniform. He did some memorable things between ’89 and ’93 (no hitters, various milestones, the Robin Ventura fight), but those were just nice distractions in lean seasons. Nothing he did as a player ever contributed to a playoff berth, and he was long retired by the time the Rangers did reach October.

In February 2008 he came back as an executive. At that point Jon Daniels was over 2 years into his tenure as general manager and the following moves had already taken place under his watch:

  • Nelson Cruz had been acquired from the Brewers
  • Michael Young had received a lucrative contract extension
  • Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Neftali Feliz had been acquired from the Braves in the Ron Mahay trade
  • David Murphy had been acquired from the Red Sox
  • Josh Hamilton had been acquired from the Reds


Those seven guys (plus Ian Kinsler, who was drafted before JD took over) make up the core of a team that won back-to-back AL Pennants and came within a strike of winning a World Series.

The core was in place before Nolan got here. He had nothing to do with it.

(In fact, if we’re being honest, Tom Hicks has more fingerprints on the pennants than the current CEO. Now, please excuse me while I go vomit…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………okay, back.)
I don’t mean to say that Nolan deserves no credit. He put an emphasis on pitching, brought in Mike Maddux, and restored a lot of credibility with the fanbase. (He also cooked all those hotdogs.)

But the 2nd renaissance was not his doing. He was a part of it, but others did far more to make it a reality. 

Of course, I write all of this because of the rumor that Nolan Ryan is on his way out the door. JD is being painted as the bad guy for ousting a Texas legend and everyone wants you to pick a side.

For me, though, this is like choosing which parent you want to live with after the divorce. JD has done more for this franchise than almost anybody; Nolan is the whole reason I love baseball in the first place. Given the choice, I’d rather they just stay together.

That being said, there’s no doubt in my mind that the team is better off long-term with JD. It’s his plan that shaped the core and took the Rangers within inches of a championship.

As much as I love Nolan Ryan – and I do love him – I have yet to find a compelling reason that he should stay on if it has to be one or the other.

Texas baseball is bigger than one man and it always will be.

Press on, Rangers fans.

Mike Luna is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning.com. He can be reached at Mike.Luna@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @twbbg.
Mike Luna

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