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Nolan Ryan was a tad inaccurate with his first pitch (Video)

Nolan-Ryan-first-pitchNolan Ryan is one of the greatest pitchers to ever live. He logged over 5,000 innings during his incredible 27-year career and recently turned 67 years old, so you can understand why his arm might be a little worn out. That seemed to be the case when Ryan threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Houston Astros on Tuesday.

Ryan, who pitched for the Astros from 1980-1988, delivered a fastball to fellow Houston legend Craig Biggio that was just a bit outside. Knowing Ryan, the Hall of Famer was probably envisioning a righthanded hitter at the plate who was crowding the strike zone. I bet he was just brushing the imaginary hitter back. Yup, that was it.

Hey, he still wasn’t as bad as John Wall. That’s always a plus.

Video via The Score

Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels reportedly had heated confrontation

Nolan RyanNolan Ryan and Jon Daniels nearly came to blows in a heated confrontation on Tuesday night, according to a report from 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.

“New School” hosts Shan Shariff and RJ Choppy of The Fan say the two Texas Rangers executives were face-to-face and had to be separated by manager Ron Washington. The hosts don’t know the reason for the fight, but they speculate that it was over bench coach Jackie Moore and first base coach Dave Anderson. The Rangers announced the following day that two coaches would not be back with the team, so it’s plausible that one wanted them out while the other wanted them to keep their jobs.

Daniels is the President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Rangers, while Ryan is the team’s CEO. Going back to spring training, reports have stated that Ryan was unhappy with his role on the team and the increase in power given to Daniels.

We don’t know the exact reason for the fight, but the firing of the coaches seems like a reasonable source of friciton. And we do have a pretty good idea of how a Daniels-Ryan fight might have gone down had it taken place:

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Nolan Ryan’s wife used to catch for him when he was in the majors

Nolan-Ryan-RangersNolan Ryan was one of the hardest throwers to ever pitch in Major League Baseball. During his astonishing 27-year career, Ryan consistently threw pitches that were in the 100-mph range. Aside from a professional catcher, who would volunteer to practice with someone like that? How about his wife.

During an interview with our friends Lance Zierlein and Charlie Pallilo on Sports Talk 790 in Houston’s “The Drive Home,” Ryan’s son Reid talked about how difficult it was to catch for his dad at home. Reid then stunned us all by revealing that his mom used to catch for Nolan.

“I’d catch him sometimes and at a certain point I’d be like, ‘I can’t do that,'” he recalled. “My mom did too. We’re in Alvin (Texas), you know. We didn’t have any catchers down there. She’d go out there and put on the mask and she’d catch him. He wasn’t throwing 90 but he’d be working on throwing his fastball and getting in shape and stuff like that.”

Reid was then asked if Nolan was throwing at least 80 mph when his mom caught for his dad.

“Probably,” he said. “My mom was a state champ in tennis. She still plays today and she’s quite an athlete. She could handle it.”

In other words, Ruth Ryan is a boss. Nolan Ryan is notorious for throwing gas and intimidating opposing hitters, but his wife was apparently unfazed by her husband’s uncanny ability to burn the seams off a baseball. She can play for my team anytime.

Audio of Reid Ryan’s interview with “The Drive Home” can be heard below:

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Nolan Ryan could reportedly soon leave the Rangers

Nolan-Ryan-RangersNolan Ryan has become a symbol of the success that the Texas Rangers have enjoyed over the past several seasons. The former Cy Young Award winner is a celebrity in Arlington, and he has received much of the credit for the Rangers’ three straight playoff appearances and two division titles in the past three seasons. Now, there are rumors that Ryan’s days with the team may be numbered.

According to Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a power shift within the Rangers’ front office could run Ryan out of town before the regular season begins. The team’s owners recently announced that Jon Daniels has been promoted to president of baseball operations and general manager and Rick George has been promoted to president of business operations. Ryan’s title is still CEO, but sources reportedly told Galloway that Daniels has final say over baseball decisions and the same for George with the business end.

Rangers co-owner Bob Simpson insists that Ryan’s job remains the same and said it would be a “tragedy” if he left the team.

“My definition of CEO is it’s the person in charge,” Simpson said. “Nolan Ryan will still make the anything-of-significance decisions and bring those to the owners for approval. I say significant decisions because we wanted to remove some of the day-to-day stuff from Nolan.

“Nolan is a treasure for us. His wisdom and his counsel are invaluable. And if anyone in his camp has taken these latest moves the wrong way, then that needs to be addressed.”

Galloway’s sources “adamantly” claim that despite what Simpson says, Daniels is now in total control of baseball decisions. Galloway also said that it is a “fact” that Ryan has lost much of his power. The Rangers know they have to be careful with what they say, because losing Ryan on bad terms would be a public relations nightmare. Ryan’s incredible career combine with gestures like this have made him one of the most beloved athletes in Texas history. He has three years remaining on his contract with the Rangers. The last thing the team needs is a messy divorce.

H/T Eye on Baseball

Nolan Ryan: Josh Hamilton could not have picked a worse time to quit tobacco

Josh Hamilton has dedicated much of the last several years of his life to overcoming addiction. Most of us know the story of his troubled past, as it is one that seems to come up in a number of different ways throughout the course of a season. Earlier this year, Hamilton admitted that he was struggling to quit using tobacco and admitted that the struggle was affecting his play. For that reason, Nolan Ryan thinks he should have waited until after the season to kick the habit.

“His timing on quitting smokeless tobacco couldn’t have been worse,” Ryan said Tuesday according to ESPNDallas.com. “You would’ve liked to have thought that if he was going to do that that he would’ve done it in the offseason or waited until this offseason to do it. So the drastic effect that it had on him and the year that he was having up to that point in time that he did quit, you’d have liked that he would’ve taken a different approach to that. So those issues caused unrest, and it’s unfortunate that it happened and the timing was such as it was.”

While you can understand where Ryan is coming from in terms of wanting the team to be successful and avoid costly plays like this one, that is a terrible message to send. Allowing his addiction to get the best of him could have in theory helped Hamilton continue his success at the plate, but shouldn’t his health be the priority?

Hamilton has had issues with drugs in the past and went through an alcohol relapse earlier this year, so kicking a bad habit should be more important than plate production for him — or anyone else for that matter. Even if Ryan was upset that quitting contributed to Hamilton’s struggles, he probably should have kept it to himself.

H/T Hardball Talk

Nolan Ryan: Josh Hamilton is swinging at bad pitches, giving away at-bats

Josh Hamilton was the hottest hitter in baseball the first two months of the season. The former AL MVP clubbed 21 home runs in April and May, posting a 1.182 and 1.187 OPS in both months, respectively. The highlight of his hot streak was an incredible four home run game in Baltimore. But then Hamilton hit .222 in June with four home runs and is only batting .172 with three home runs in July. He’s been bothered by a lower back injury and everyone can see he’s struggling. Team president Nolan Ryan even discussed the struggles during an interview with Galloway and Company on KESN-FM radio.

“I think we’re all seeing the same thing,” Ryan said, per The Dallas Morning News. “You’re right that some of his at bats aren’t very impressive from the standpoint that he doesn’t work deep into the count, he’s swinging at a lot of bad pitches, he just doesn’t seem to be locked in at all.

“So what you’re hoping is that his approach will change and he’ll start giving quality at bats because there’s a lot of those at bats that he just gives away. One of the things I’ve always commented on is I can’t ever say that I ever saw Henry [Hank] Aaron give an at bat away. I think as a hitter, you have to go up there and you have to focus on the guy that you’re facing and what he’s been doing as far as the game’s concerned and try to engage what your attempt to do as far as getting a hit off him.”

That response quickly went from a breakdown of Hamilton’s struggles to a comparison with Hank Aaron that seems to be a put down for the Rangers outfielder. Hamilton went from being the top hitter in baseball to having an average under .300 and OPS under .900. These types of struggles may make it easier for the Rangers to say goodbye if Hamilton leaves in free agency. Maybe this is Texas’ way of preparing for that reality.

H/T Hardball Talk

Robin Ventura: Charging Nolan Ryan was ‘Something I had to do’ for my Teammates

Robin Ventura was a two-time All-Star, six-time Gold Glove winner, and he holds the NCAA baseball record with a 58-game hitting streak. But what fans remember him most for is when he charged Nolan Ryan in 1993 and got beat up.

Ventura is now the manager of the White Sox, and he was asked about the incident during a fan event this weekend.

“What the teams were going through at the time, there was a lot of back and forth,” said Ventura, alluding to four hit batters in the first two games of the series. “Sometimes as a player, you pick a spot that something needs to happen.

“It’s not like he derailed a promising UFC career. So it is what it is, but that was something I had to do as a teammate.”

Team broadcaster Hawk Harrelson says Ventura didn’t fully realize what he was doing until after he ran out to the mound and said ‘My God, that’s Nolan Ryan out there.’

Yup, big mistake Robin. I’m not sure any incident that embarrassing is worth it just to stand up for your teammates. This dude is haunted for life because of it.

Of course I only posted this story as an excuse to show the video:

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