By Taryn “the Coop” Cooper
Back in 2009, I attended an Angels game in Anaheim, and they were facing the Texas Rangers. Little did I know this would become the basis of a pretty heated rivalry in upcoming years (especially with the Rangers taking over the AL West basically with their bats and young pitching). I spoke to a gentleman in the stands who happened to be a Rangers fan, and he told me he was really excited about the team. That CEO and President Nolan Ryan’s philosophy of youth, pitching and defense were really making a difference in the franchise.
After speaking to him on our podcast last Tuesday night, it’s evident that Mr. Ryan practices what he preaches.
Famously, the Mets gave up on him when he was still young, and he went on to have one of the most storied pitching careers in baseball. While Ryan won’t dwell on the past too much, it’s evident that while talking about his time with the Mets, that he wonders what might have been.
Ryan is not a big believer in pitch counts, but rather having the pitchers listen to themselves and see what their limitations are. When that fan in the stands at Anaheim told me that Ryan’s philosophy was having starting pitchers go deeper into games, it was refreshing and yet unusual to hear at the same time. I’m a big fan of strong starting pitching itself. We’ve been brainwashed to think that strong bullpens are important, and while they do hold a certain role, they wouldn’t be as important if strong starting pitching was part of the philosophy.
When I asked him a question about his time with the Houston Astros, namely playing against the only team he won a championship with 17 years before, and how his teammate felt that the Astros should have been in the World Series, not the Mets, he said, “The Mets were the strongest team in baseball that second half.” While he may have been disappointed about being cast away, he still had enough respect to realize how good they were the year his team faced them in the NLCS.
Finally, Ryan is a consummate professional. When asked about his relationship with former Met and now Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura, famously involved with a fight between the two of them years ago, he said that they’re professionals, and that they’ll go on professionally. I still think he wants to give him a noogie sandwich, but who cares? If he says it won’t be an issue, so be it.
Having Nolan Ryan on our show and speaking to him was one of the highlights of my life as a baseball fan. So excited about how being a baseball fan has changed my life for the better, and it’s clear that Nolan Ryan has changed many lives simply by being a baseball player.
If you haven’t yet listened to our podcast…why haven’t you??