Houston Astros get their Ryan, but it’s not Nolan

Posted Thursday, May. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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galloway Yes, it’s a Ryan taking over the Houston Astros management, but not that one.

Hello, Reid, 41-year-old son of you-know-who. And the happiest/proudest guy in the entire state of Texas would be, yes, Daddy.

With the announcement expected Friday, Reid Ryan will become the president and CEO of the Astros. Even those in Houston, and those at the top MLB level, who badly wanted Daddy to come home and attempt to clean up a PR disaster, were rejoicing Thursday over what is considered the next best thing.

Actually, Reid might be the best thing.

I’m not sure Nolan, at 66, wanted to tackle the current Houston baseball beatdown. At least he didn’t sound like it on Monday, the day the word surfaced that Astros president and CEO George Postolos, close friend and confidant of new owner Jim Crane, had abruptly resigned.

Then again, maybe Nolan’s hesitation to add to the speculation he was needed in Houston had something to do with him knowing Reid had already been approached.

Reid, who pitched at TCU, has no major league executive experience but has been given praise over the years for his work in both founding and operating two highly successful minor league teams in Round Rock and Corpus Christi.

One Houston guy I was talking to Thursday described the Astros’ current scene this way:

“If you think it’s been bad on the field [worst record in baseball and apparently on the way to 115-plus losses this season], it’s been three times as awful in how the club operates on the business level. Postolos had no clue at all about the day-to-day process of a baseball season.

“The No. 1 priority, particularly when your team is this bad, is to take care of the fans who still care enough to come out. That concept baffled George. Every move he made was wrong, not just in one area, but every area.”

It’s obviously a big step up for Reid, but from all accounts he doesn’t exactly have big shoes to fill.

Most interesting, of course, is how the Astros have now come full circle with the Ryan family, once hard-working citizens of nearby Alvin.

There’s a long and almost hilarious history of screwing it up when it comes to Nolan.

The screw-ups doubled up, of course, when Ryan ended up here — twice — and became a factor in the Texas Rangers’ prospering, while seriously eroding the statewide trust in Astros management.

In the late ’80s, there was a chicken-spit kind of contract dispute, with the Astros owner at the time, John McMullen, deciding to take a hard-fisted stand against a certain aging pitcher.

Nolan walked away, but he didn’t walk far. He came to Arlington, made baseball history and added to his already legendary status. But he did it in a Rangers uniform. Astros fandom was furious and never forgave McMullen.

Fast-forward to the mid-2000s, and Ryan was a front-office dignitary of the Astros, but then-owner Drayton McLane dug in against repeated media demands to turn the club’s presidency over to Nolan.

Again, Nolan left the Astros, answering the call from a desperate Tom Hicks to come here as the Rangers’ president. In a repeat from nearly two decades earlier, Astros’ fandom still rips McLane to this day for his decision.

But with Reid now the surprise choice to take command of the Astros, No. 1 son has been given the job his daddy once wanted but was never offered.

And in a bit of irony, there’s also a Reid tie-in with the local turmoil that went on with Nolan over the off-season.

Rangers ownership had urged Nolan to be grooming a successor in Arlington, and finally he gave the owners a name: Reid Ryan.

But at least one major owner balked on Nolan’s idea.

It came down to one of the oldest debates in the business world:

“Never hire family” or “Hire who you can trust, and that’s generally family.”

In this case, Reid was shot down as the guy who would be groomed to eventually replace Nolan in Arlington.

Surprisingly, the wait wasn’t long for Reid to get his major league shot.

Houston, of all teams, will turn the entire club over to the leadership of Reid Ryan.

In a way, that’s better than here. Reid will not be working in Daddy’s shadow and there can be no nepotism rumblings. In a twist, the relationship between Nolan and Jim Crane is not considered friendly.

Crane, of course, teamed with Mark Cuban to battle the Ryan group in an attempt to buy the Rangers out of bankruptcy three years ago.

There’s going to be a Ryan as the CEO of the Astros, and a Ryan as CEO of the Rangers.

It should make for some very interesting Thanksgiving and Christmas family discussions at the dinner table. Plus, if Daddy eventually decides to leave the Rangers, he now knows where he can land a good job.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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