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October 24, 2011

Nolan Ryan


Q. What's your take on Ron Washington's dugout demeanor, his exuberance, his running around in place and everything else? And I guess how would that have worked with you as a player?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I think when people look at Ron Washington's exuberance in the dugout, I think they know it's who he is. It's true, it's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows.
I think when he was a third base coach, he was involved in the game physically more than he is physically as a manager, and so I just think that it's obviously -- it's been brought to the forefront with the postseason, but that's who Ron is on a day-to-day basis.

Q. This series has the making of a great series, exciting series, maybe a classic series. We may not know the outcome of the series until the 27th out of Game 7, but we'll have a winner and a loser. In your opinion what do you think will separate the two teams, be the difference maker?
NOLAN RYAN: I think the separating point going forward from here is going to be the pitching staff, how they perform. You know, I think obviously it showed last night with the performance we got out of Derek Holland, what he meant to us and the position that he's put us in by pitching as he did last night. And so my hope is that our starting pitching will pitch more to the level that they did during the regular season. So I'm optimistic that that's going to happen. That way I feel confident that we should be in a pretty good position.

Q. Talking about Ron again, you talked about his exuberance. When you're watching the game, are you trying to manage along in your head with him or trying to figure out what he's going to do next?
NOLAN RYAN: Oh, I think everybody that's involved in the baseball side of it is thinking along, well, what do we do in this situation, who do we have available, who do they have on their bench, who's coming up. All those situations are running through your mind and thinking, well, I mean -- I know the President and I were sitting down there yesterday, and we had a 3-2 count, and I think Nelly was on first with one out. I asked the President, "Do you run him?" And he says "no." He said, "What do you think?" I said, "I think we do." And so I think people get involved in the games like that and really are trying to think along how Ron might be thinking.

Q. As you look at the postseason, how much do you think players' reputations are enhanced or diminished by how they play in the postseason?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I think there's expectations that the media and the fan base have with certain players. And I think it goes back to Tony's comments a while ago, that you can't judge on a short series about players, but people's expectations are Albert Pujols is capable of doing what he did the other night and that adds to his reputation and expectations. And I think about what Josh did for us last year against the Yankees. I think those things come into play with the media and also with the expectations of the fans.

Q. Besides Ron and Maddux a lot of your pitchers have credited you with being an influence and helping them a lot. Can you talk about some of the wisdom you've tried to impact.
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I'm a believer in letting Mike do his job, and he has a job, and he and Andy do a great job and they work so well together. The only time that I feel like that I get involved is when it's on a personal basis with some of the pitchers that I've developed a relationship with them. They're comfortable with me. If I see things that -- and it's not on necessarily their preparation or how they did that night, but if I can help them on just talking through things that I observe and that I think through my experience and that I experienced in my career that I can help them with, I'll sit down and visit with them about it. But I try to be very positive, do it in a manner that they don't feel like they're being criticized or disciplined, and try to have a conversation where they engage with me where I get a feel for what's in their mind and what's on their mind and what they're dealing with and talk about it.
One thing about my career, and not only because of the length of it but because of the issues I had when I came in with my delivery and being an over-thrower and being gifted with a great arm my whole life and not knowing anything about pitching, just knowing throw as hard as you can for as long as you can, you know, I've gone pretty -- I went pretty much full circle, and I have an understanding of what they're dealing with when they're standing on the mound and don't have the confidence of being able to throw the ball where they want it and things of that nature.
And I think it's comforting to them at times when they're struggling that they have somebody that does relate to what they're doing, and they feel like somebody does understand what they're experiencing. So I think those are areas that I can help in where maybe other people can't because I think they know that I've experienced it and I do relate to what they're really experiencing.

Q. Most teams would be happy with what you got from Harrison, Ogando and Holland this year. Is there another level you think they can go to next year, or would you be satisfied --
NOLAN RYAN: No, I really do. I really think that they're at the stage of their career that they're going to grow into being even more effective pitchers, I really do. I believe they'll be more efficient with their pitches. I think they'll have a better feel with their secondary pitches and locating their fastballs. I'm very optimistic that those guys will be better pitchers next year than they were this year. I truly believe that.

Q. When we watched Derek last night after the game, I think some of us were talking about whether this is the moment in which he takes it to the next level. We've seen flashes,
and perhaps this on the big stage puts him over the top. Do you recall for yourself back in the late '60s maybe when -- did you have a Derek Holland moment where you kind of thought to yourself, I get this now?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I can't say that -- and when you look at Derek's performance last night, I truly believe that's the biggest game of his career and it's the biggest game of our organization. And he stepped up, and it says volumes about where he's come in his maturity. I still think that there will be growing and developing with Derek. I don't think one game makes a difference.
I mean, I look back on the biggest moments of my career was when Gil Hodges brought me in with the bases loaded in the playoffs against Atlanta with Rico Carty. And I think it was a 3-2 count on him, it may have been 0-2, but I know I had two strikes on him. And to bring me in in that situation, I was as dumbfounded as the fans were when he brought me in. But that was a big moment in my career, and I pitched seven and a third innings to finish it out.
So it had an impact on my career. So do I think last night is going to have an impact on Derek Holland's career? Yeah, I really do. Do I think he's going to struggle at times? Yeah, he's going to continue to struggle at times, but I think that what he experienced last night and what he accomplished is going to be very beneficial to him.

Q. This has been such a riveting postseason, a lot of dramatic moments. Why aren't more people watching the World Series as far as TV ratings compared to when you played 20, 30 years ago?
NOLAN RYAN: I think it has to do with our society and all the things that go on now. I think that in those days what you had opportunities to view. I think that 30 years ago we grew up where we didn't see that much of the World Series or baseball, but we listened to a lot of it. So I just think that there was a bigger following within our country than there is now today because I think there's so many things on TV and there's so much competition.
You know, I think obviously the weather didn't help with some of the problem we had earlier in the postseason with some of the challenges we had with the weather. But I just think that that's where we are today.

Q. Have you had a chance to see the replay of the ceremonial first pitch last night?
NOLAN RYAN: No, but I have to take credit, I booted it. I'd love to be able to sit here and make a bunch of excuses, but you know, he threw an 80 mile-an-hour running fastball and I was using a catcher's mitt, and I should have taken a glove. But I was glad it was me instead of him, you know.

Q. So it's a passed ball?
NOLAN RYAN: I guess it was. I think that's probably as hard as he can throw.

Q. I wonder, did you find it in your career more difficult to pitch in the postseason? And is that a product of you've just finished a long season of pitching? I ask now because you mentioned your staff pitched well during the regular season. Cardinals' staff also had a good season but had trouble going deep into games.
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I really think in postseason everything is elevated. And I think that the hitters' focus is better, and I think that the tendency is for any pitcher to feel more pressure, be more excitable, all those things come into play, I think. And then I think, too, that mainly in the World Series, you don't have the familiarity of the hitters, so you're going more off of scouting reports. I can tell you from pitching to hitters, I didn't like facing people I didn't know. I liked to know them. I liked to have faced them, because I develop a comfort level of I know how to get them out, I know what mistakes they hit well and things of that nature. So you don't have that comfort level that you would during the regular season.

Q. What is it about Colby Lewis' demeanor or personality or pitching style that seems to lend itself to being pretty consistent in the postseason?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I think when he gets in the postseason that he gets really focused. He's one of these guys that has a tendency to take his game to another level. He just -- I think he's extremely prepared and knows what he wants to do, and he sticks to his game plan. I know Colby well enough now, when he makes a pitch and he doesn't get it, I can see it. I can read it through his body language, but he does not let that carry over to the next pitch.
So I just think that where he is in his professional career and the discipline that he has serves him quite well, and if you look at our pitching staff, Colby has been our best postseason performer over the last two years.

Q. Ron said he's not as dumb as some people think he is today. Do you think he's one of the more underrated managers? And do you think if he continues he'll ever be considered on a level of a Tony La Russa or people like that?
NOLAN RYAN: You know, I think that it obviously is going to depend on how the club performs. Obviously Ron has been elevated to a level these last two years, to a new level. And I think that if the club continues to perform on these levels that, yeah, he will be. But I think also because of Ron's passion for the game and who he is, I think he's probably more respected now than he's ever been in the game. And I know we as an organization truly appreciate him more today than we ever have because we've gone through pennant races with him, we've gone through postseason with him, and we know him so much better and how consistent he is and what he's able to do with his players.
You know, I think Ron, from my perspective, is as sound as any manager, and when you go in and ask him what his thinking was on certain moves he makes, after he gives you the explanation and his thought process, you're in agreement with him. You say, well, I understand that.
And sometimes -- I always say, people ask me about moves that he makes and what my thoughts are, and I say, well, he knows his players and he knows the situation with his players because you don't know who comes in and says, hey, I may need a day off, I've got a stiff shoulder. We don't know those things, you know. So we're sitting there going, why hasn't he got so and so up?
There's so much more information than he's privy to that we aren't, that I think people have a tendency to want to make decisions that maybe aren't as favorable as far as a light that shines on him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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