So there you go. And there goes Nolan Ryan, gone for good. Backstabbing and ego trips won out, and a state of Texas legend is forced out.
Give it up for Jon Daniels, the general manager who successfully hijacked the Texas Rangers, and as of Thursday officially, became the baseball god of Arlington.
But give it up a little louder for Ray Davis, who in case you forgot is co-majority owner of the club. Daniels could not have pulled off his Nolan kill-shot without the backing of a rich man from Dallas.
My favorite part of Thursday’s Nolan-is-out media session at the ballyard was Davis saying he would now be representing the Rangers at all MLB high-level meetings, meaning Ray wants more, much more, face time.
Just what we need around here, another Jones and Cuban on the ownership front.
Take Bob Simpson of Fort Worth out of this Daniels coup, because I don’t think in any way he wanted this kind of ending with Nolan Ryan. But even Simpson, grilled repeatedly in March about the owners’ baseball power-shift decision within the organization, attempted to present it as a positive development, even for Nolan.
Please stop that crap, Bob. You are better than that.
What happened Thursday actually took root nearly a year ago, when out of nowhere, ownership decided to promote Daniels to baseball god, and a guy named Rick George (since departed) to business-side god. At that point, the end of Nolan in Arlington was only a matter of time.
Ownership has been spinning that November decision like crazy since then, and Davis verbally stumbled around Thursday in attempting to do so again. But the bottom line was the bottom line:
Nolan no longer had the final say in baseball or business, although the departure of George over the summer gave him the business side again.
But Daniels, who must be given heavy credit for being a savvy political animal at still such a young age, got what he wanted on Thursday. All the power. And he received the blessing for the Nolan push from his boss, Ray Davis.
This victory for both, however, comes with a burden.
Daniels and Davis are now labeled as the guys who ran Nolan Ryan out of town.
Be prepared, fellows. Can you handle that burden?
Fan backlash will be substantial, particularly from the rank-and-file, while the geek element of fandom will cheer on Daniels.
But if the product on the field goes into decline, look out Daniels and look out ownership. The financial bottom line will take a massive hit.
Despite denials, Daniels has had full baseball power since last November, and was a complete failure in attempting to sustain a club that two years earlier had been to back-to-back World Series.
Jon touts the 91 wins this past season. He does so while ignoring those 91 wins were strictly a Houston thing, built around hammering the Astros 17 times in 19 games after that club was added to the AL West last season.
Just win, Jon. Win the division. Make a strong playoff run. Or all hell will break loose. But the heat is not just on Daniels. Again, be sure to include Ray Davis right at the top of the mix.
As expected, the BS flowed freely Thursday as Nolan, Simpson and Davis answered media questions at the ballyard. Ryan joined in the BS-fest, attempting to be diplomatic.
But if you were listening closely, what Nolan didn’t say said plenty.
First of all, Nolan said he was “resigning.” A club media release an hour earlier said he was “retiring.” When asked about it, Ryan attempted to talk around it.
But this is not a retirement. This is leaving a power struggle he had already lost to Daniels, losing it because Daniels had the backing of Davis. On the mound, Ryan could deliver a fastball with the best of them. But he’s not a political animal, not even close.
Until last November, sources have repeatedly said Ryan didn’t even know there was a power struggle going on, not until the owners told him Daniels won it.
But when Ryan gave his “thank yous” on Thursday, he had lengthy praise for the local fandom, and lengthy praise for longtime front office behind-the-scenes people, some, he said, who were working for the Rangers when he was a player here.
And that was it for the Nolan thank yous.
No mention of ownership. No mention of Daniels and his people.
So as of Thursday, Nolan packed up and left the Rangers for good.
Backstabbing and egos have prevailed. Jon Daniels won this round. Ray Davis won this round.
But a day of reckoning for both is coming.
One Nolan kill-shot doesn’t win this baseball war. Winning on the field is now the only way out for Davis and Daniels.