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October 15, 2010

Nolan Ryan


Q. Why did this job appeal to you when you were first approached about it, and second part is, what did you think needed to be done after you got here?
NOLAN RYAN: First, you know, going in as a Ranger into the Hall of Fame and my previous association with the organization as a player, I thought the second half of my career it would be unique and fun to be involved with an organization that helped to set the direction of the organization. And it came at a time in my life where I could do that and it wouldn't affect anything that I was doing, and so it appealed to me. And the fact that the club was struggling at the time. I felt like it was probably a good time to come in and get involved with it.

Q. What needed to be done?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, you know, I spent the whole first year evaluating what we do, how we do it, what our talent level was, what I felt like that we needed to do. And I felt like the biggest issue that I saw was to address our pitching situation. We were over-using our bullpen early because our starters weren't going long enough pitching us into the later innings.
And so I felt like that was the first thing that we needed to address.

Q. As much as this ballclub is currently achieving, do you have the sense, the belief, that this is just the beginning of a long run of success?
NOLAN RYAN: I think we are positioned to do that. I can't say that I have the feeling that we will, because I know how hard it is to maintain that from year to year. And obviously, you can't predict injuries or free agency or anything of that nature.
So I think as an organization, we have positioned ourselves to try to continue doing what we are doing, and that's feeding the Major League club from within our organization, and then fill in needs that we have outside the organization, but the main focus is the development side of our organization, and we are going to continue that.
We would like to think that we have some young talent in the system that we project will come in at some point in time and be part of a winning effort. So I think from that position, we feel pretty good about where we are, but to think that we are going to have run of winning every year, I couldn't say that that's where my confidence level is.

Q. There's great euphoria about getting to this level; is that enough, or will it still be a disappointment if you're not able to go at least one more round?
NOLAN RYAN: No. Our goal is to get in the World Series and win the World Series, and if we fall short of that, we'll be disappointed.
That's not to say that we won't look back on the year and the post-season and feel good about what we accomplished, but we'll still feel like that we didn't finish what we wanted to do, and so if that were to happen, I think it would be motivation, obviously, to the organization and to the team itself to go to Spring Training next year with that goal in mind again.

Q. You competed in what some people think is the most exciting LCS in history in 1980, and other than the result, can you give me the recollections about that, the atmosphere and how loud things were in the Astrodome?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I felt like that our first game here, we had that kind of atmosphere the other day. And it was quite unique, what happened in the Astrodome, and I never witnessed something of that nature before. And I know that electricity was in the stands here and the fans were really involved in it, our first home game here.
But we didn't play well, and so it wasn't sustaining like it was in the Astrodome, but also, from being in that series, I know that things can happen, strange things can happen. And so I think that probably contributed to my nervousness in Game 5 against Tampa over there.

Q. The cameras caught you a couple of times during nervous moments on Tuesday; how hard is it to sit thereafter competing for so many years to watch.
NOLAN RYAN: It's horrible. (Laughter).
The two toughest things I found in sports is to watch your children perform and be involved with a team of this nature and not have any control over what's going on; that you're strictly a spectator. It's hard after being a competitor to be in that role, and that game felt like it lasted seven or eight hours to me, because it couldn't move fast enough. And mainly, once we got the lead.

Q. Back in your playing year, you were on the '69 Mets, the buzz around this team and the community, is there any comparison? And also, '86, Mike Scott and the way the Mets were intimidated by him, any similarities with cliff Lee and his dominance?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, remind me about cliff Lee, I forget that part of the question.
As far as the '69 Mets were concerned, there's a lot of similarities with our ballclub and what happened with the '69 Mets. We were behind in that race, and started making our move in late August, and as the Cubs tired, it was a hot summer and they were playing all day games in those days. We started making up ground, and as we went up, we started believing that we could catch them, and then we swept them in a homestand. That seemed to get us over the hump as far as our confidence level.
So things built as it's been building this year for us, and so I think that what I've seen with this ballclub is their confidence level has built. So there's some similarities there.
There's similarities in the fact that the '69 club was a lot of young players with a few veteran players with experience sprinkled in the lineup, and that's kind of what we have here, too. And so there's similarities in that way.
In '86, when you look at the Met ballclub, I think they were the best ballclub in baseball that year, mainly the second half. They really were a talented ballclub and a balanced ballclub. They had more offense than we did. They probably had depth in their pitching, too.

Q. Cliff Lee, Mike Scott comparison?
NOLAN RYAN: You know, I don't know. I haven't been around the Yankees enough to know how they feel about Cliff. Obviously he beat them twice in the post-season, so they have some idea what they are going to be looking at and going into this series.
So Mike Scott was dominating that year; unhittable at times. You know, Cliff has a good job of command as anybody I've ever seen, and confidence in his ability to throw the ball where he wants it. He really is a treat to watch pitch. And so I'm not sure how the Yankees feel about him, but I'm sure that they know they have their work cut out with him.

Q. What stamp do you think you have put on this ballclub in the 2 to 3 years that you've been here?
NOLAN RYAN: Oh, I don't know. I really hadn't thought about it. But it's hard to say. You know, I'd like to think that we built an attitude about pitching that wasn't here; that you can pitch in this ballpark and you can be successful in this ballpark pitching here; and you can keep the ball in the yard. I think that we have stressed -- and I can't say I take credit for it, because Mike Maddux works with these guys every day and he stresses throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count and keeping the ball down. He and I are on the same page with that attitude and that message.
And so I just think that we put some people in place here that feel the same way about pitching that I do.

Q. What about the culture?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, you know, I think that this organization, the players truly believe that they are good players and that they can win and there's not a reason they can't win. And they have to do it.
Every time you think that the backs were against the wall and it looked like the wheels were going to come off of it, they did it themselves. They found it within themselves to come back and turn things around and I'm really proud of that, and the maturity that I've seen develop in this ballclub.

Q. Do you think that you've brought about a little bit of accountability as far as these players are concerned? They are almost looking over at you when they are doing something on the diamond to almost gain your approval it seems.
NOLAN RYAN: Well, you know, I haven't really thought about it that way. But you know, I'm available to them. I'm here to support them. I have conversations with them. I want them to feel that if they have anything they want to visit with me about that I want them to be comfortable enough to come up and be able to do that.
I feel like over the last three years I've been here, I've developed I think a pretty good relationship with our players and our coaches, and you know, I don't try to do other people's jobs. I'm not a micro manager. I believe in hiring good people and letting them do their jobs and supporting them.
And I think because of, obviously, my experience in baseball, it puts me in a position with players and coaches that a lot of other people in this position don't have. And so I think, obviously, that probably lends to that.

Q. How important is it for you to retain Jon Daniels in order to keep the organization moving forward?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, if you look at this organization and where Jon's brought it from, it's very important. He's been one of the key people in this organization, and then what he's been able to bring to the organization with the scouts and the development people and developing the plan that we were going to develop from within started in 2007 and been able to, with that in mind, obviously put a couple of trades together where the focus was on very young players that were very talented; knowing that there was going to be a time lag there before they would be ready to come to the big leagues and contribute. You know, we are a product of that now.
I think he's been very important to our organization, and I feel like that -- his contract's up after this season, and obviously we want to retain him. There's been speculation about him getting other opportunities, but I think we feel pretty comfortable that this is his organization and these are his people, and that it's an exciting time to be associated with the Texas Rangers. So I really would be shocked if he didn't stay with us.

Q. This was obviously a yeoman's task on your part, to restore this organization, or not restore them, but get them to respectability after losing all those years and everything else; and then last summer when Ron had his situation, given the fragile nature of everything here, you still chose to stick with him. How hard was that decision given the fact that this is a very fragile situation here?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, Jon Daniels and I did a lot of soul searching on that and we just felt that we had given a lot of other people in our organization a second chance and we certainly felt like Ron was deserving of that. And we felt like that Ron as a manager was maturing and developing as a manager, and we just felt like it was the right thing to do, and that we should stand behind him.
Then when that became public this spring, the players on the team stood behind him and I think it united them. I think they appreciated Ron for how had he supported them and then in return, they supported him at a time he needed support, and I think it brought the club even closer together.

Q. The other three teams left have some big-name veteran pitchers on their staff, and you guys beyond Cliff Lee are pretty young. How do you think your staff will hold up in this round and possibly beyond?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I'd like to think each round that we go, they mature and they get more confidence in their ability. Obviously when you take clubs that have more veteran pitching and more seasoned pitching from what they have been exposed to, you have to feel like nerves and emotions are not nearly as big of an issue as they are with a young club that comes in and is facing that situation for the first time.
I think if you went and asked Derek Holland about pitching the other day in front of the crowd here in the biggest game he's ever pitched in in his life, I think he would tell you he was quite nervous. And so I think each time they go out and they pitch, and if they are successful, I think they build off of that, and I think if they struggle, then they go back and think about what happened to them and hopefully can make some adjustments so that won't happen again.
So it's a process. Having Cliff Lee, obviously, is a big plus for us, because he pitches us late into the game. He's a veteran that has much experience, and so he takes the pressure off the pitching that day. And so I think that obviously the more of those type of people you have, then the less chance you have of the wheels coming off at some point in time during the game.

Q. How have your other enterprises helped you as club president, and compare working with ballplayers to working with bankers and cattle.
NOLAN RYAN: Well, cattle don't talk back to you and they pretty much do what you asked of them (chuckling).
You know, I tell people, we are in the people business, and it doesn't matter if you're in the banking business, your customers, you're in the people business, and it's how you treat people. And I've always -- I grew up with the thought that I wanted to treat people the way I'd like to be treated, and I think if you do that, it's pretty hard to go wrong.
I understand what players go through, and I understand anxiety that they experience at times, and all of the issues that they have to deal with with living on the road and traveling and having a family and being young like that. I have to think back to how I was at that time, and it helps me in having patience with them and understanding what they are experiencing, and the failures that I had as a young Major Leaguer.
I think, obviously, my career and the fact that I struggled early in my career and didn't have instant success has been good for me being in this position; and I think being the age I'm at and experiencing other things outside of baseball has helped me be more understanding and more patient.
And, so, yeah, I think all of those things, I think all of the experiences that you have in life, that you grow from them and you understand better when you are dealing better with adversity.

End of FastScripts

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