When the Texas Rangers gave former CEO Nolan Ryan the boot before this season did they make a mistake? That is a question that was bound to be asked as the current Arlington contingent continued yet another long losing streak and plummeted ever closer toward the cellar in the American League West.
One Wichita Falls, Texas fan said, "The Rangers getting rid of Nolan Ryan will go down in history along with the alltime great mistakes in sports history right up there with the Boston Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees."
A franchise which only a few years ago won two American League pennants and appeared in two World Series with Ryan playing a major role in the mix, fell 15 /1-2 games behind the Oakland Athletics in their division with the latest loss yesterday, according to the Associated Press Standings.
When Ryan became involved with the Rangers in 2008, he joined a franchise which had never won a pennant in its history. Hired by former owner Tom Hicks, the Rangers made dramatic improvement under Ryan's guidance by winning American League pennants in 2010 and 2011, according to the Dallas News. Many fans remember the Rangers came within an agonizing one strike of winning the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in the memorable 2011 classic.
The Hall of Fame pitcher was hired by Hicks in February of 2008 and promoted to CEO in 2011. Nolan was credited with having enormous influence over the pitching staff. Respected by the pitchers, they frequently would turn to him for advice.
Outstanding pitcher Derek Holland was reportedly "devastated" by Ryan's departure. Holland gave Ryan credit for giving him great advice.
Ryan was also credited with the philosophy of asking the pitchers to make longer stints in games rather than being automatically removed after a certain number of pitches.
Ryan reportedly first contemplated stepping down as CEO of the Rangers in March of 2013 when ownership restructured the front office and gave general manager Jon Daniels the additional title as president of baseball operations. That move left Ryan uncertain of his role with the Rangers.
As Ryan's position became more tenuous with the organization he finally announced his resignation as CEO on Oct. 18, 2013, according to ESPN. He also sold his ownership stake to Bob Simpson.
Ryan, 66, has subsequently been hired by the Houston Astros as an adviser.
Since Ryan's departure the Ranger regime let home run hitter Nelson Cruz go to the Baltimore Orioles. Another controversial decision has been to trade Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers. Both transactions have already come back to haunt the Rangers.
Have the Rangers made as big a mistake as the Boston Red Sox did?
That's a question that only time will answer. But as the team continues its slide further and further away from the stratospheric high of two World Series appearances, the answer is becoming clearer.
There's nothing the Texas Rangers fans can do about it, except be frustrated.
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