Scooping the Rangers: Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels never what it seemed

Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan shaking Jon Daniels' hand.
Seems that Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels can co-exist in Texas after all. (Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News)

I was going to stay out of this. I was going to let this play out before I gave my opinion. Actually, I was going to stay away from sports altogether because I didn’t feel I had the passion to keep it going.

Then the drama between CEO Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels began, and I still waited.

I wanted to see how this story would play out before I made my opinion one way or the other. It started the morning I heard Shan Sheriff of 105.3 FM talk about how he had a source who said Nolan Ryan was going to leave the Texas Rangers’ organization. While I never doubted Shan’s information, I couldn’t understand why the information was so one-sided. It seemed to be anti-JD.

Jon Daniels isn’t forcing Nolan out, but he’s digging the holes. Remember the end of Casino when Joe Pesci had a hole in the desert waiting for him? If Ryan leaves, JD is breaking out the shovel for all of Nolan’s Guys.”

“There is no doubt that Jon Daniels deserves credit for the baseball decisions in Arlington, but he isn’t capable of recruiting the quality of baseball people that Nolan has assembled.”

Then, there came this little nugget.”The Rangers’ silence on Monday speaks volumes about this story. If the rumors weren’t true, all Nolan had to do was dismiss them. A press conference, media release, phone interview … something to make the PR nightmare disappear. Obviously, it didn’t happen.”

Sheriff wasn’t alone in his source’s side of the story either. Randy Galloway of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram wrote a week ago about Ryan’s impending departure from the Texas Rangers.

“The power shift in Arlington is a fact. Nolan Ryan has been stripped of his power.”

Something didn’t strike me the right way, so I waited a little longer. I figured the information would change, the story would shift, or Nolan Ryan himself would come out and either deny the rumors he was leaving or say he was staying for the long haul.

The week began to roll by and still no word from Nolan Ryan. General manager Jon Daniels did what he could to try and save face, talking about the good working relationship he had with Ryan and how he was never offered the CEO job by the board of directors back in November.

A few days later, the information began to change from “Nolan is walking out the door” to “Nolan isn’t going anywhere.”

Chris Arnold, one half of The Fan’s ‘G-Bag Nation’ heard Monday through Friday from 7:00 pm to midnight, had a high ranking source from inside the Rangers who told him Nolan Ryan wasn’t going to leave the club. In fact, the source took it one step further and told Arnold “this was never between JD and Nolan. The fight was between Nolan’s people and JD’s people.”

When that information came out, everything changed. But not those on either side of the aisle. There were fans on both Twitter and Facebook who either took the side of the team’s GM or the side of the beloved CEO. Some saying they wouldn’t come to another baseball game if Nolan walked away, and those who said it didn’t matter what Nolan’s decision would be, this team would continue to succeed even without him.

Then, on Sunday morning, Nolan Ryan broke the silence and released the statement we all had been waiting for, denying any truth to the rumor he was ready to leave the Texas Rangers organization.

“Over the last week, Ray Davis, Bob Simpson and I have been in discussion and met in-person. The conversations have been productive, and we have discussed my role as CEO of the organization. We agreed these discussions will continue as we go forward. I am very proud of what the Rangers have accomplished over the last several years, and I believe our preparations for upcoming season are what is important.”

I understand Nolan Ryan is beloved in this town, and I understand why. But before people try to run Jon Daniels out of town, and his people along with him, let’s not forget he isn’t exactly blameless.

Wasn’t he the one who ran Chuck Greenberg out of town after he helped Nolan Ryan purchase this team from Tom Hicks? Where was the uproar then? Was it because no one really knew much about Greenberg and trusted that Ryan knew what he was doing?

There are bigger questions to ask than that. Exactly one that sticks out; Does Nolan Ryan want to be the Rangers version of Jerry Jones?

When Daniels was named the new President of Baseball Operations, all seemed well in Rangerland. Five months later, that didn’t seem to be the case anymore. Rumors were flying hot and heavy that Daniels and Ryan were at odds, JD was trying to become the big dog on campus and was just waiting to shovel dirt on Nolan’s grave.

Now, a week later, the rumors seem to be dwindling down to nothing. Those who thought Nolan Ryan was on his way out now realize that wasn’t going to be the case at all. While he may have, at one time, thought about the idea, since the moves in the front office were made this past November, he decided he’s going to do what’s best for the organization as a whole.

This was never Jon Daniels against Nolan Ryan. This was never one guy waiting for the other guy to walk out the door so he could take all of the credit for the baseball decisions being made. While Daniels will be the man in the front office, in terms of making the decisions, he still reports the man with the CEO title.

It was overblown from the moment it began, but at least it’s been put to rest.

For now.

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