I’ve already questioned the idea that there may be a curse on the Texas Rangers. Recent events, conversations and my own investigation/research into the idea suggests that there may, in fact, be a curse on the Texas Rangers that could become as big as the “Curse of the Bambino” or the “Curse of the Billy Goat.”
If a curse, like the one that used to lay on the Boston Red Sox and the one that still plagues the Chicago Cubs, does apply to the Rangers it could be called the “Curse of Nolan Ryan.”
Ryan took over as president of the team in 2008 and was named CEO in 2011. He oversaw a club that went from hanging on to third place in the American League West to a team that won the back to back division titles AND A.L. Pennants in 2010 and 2011.
The team’s current general manager and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels and former manager Ron Washington were already with the club, but the Ranger’s success began soon after Ryan was hired.
Granted the Rangers did not win the World Series in 2010 or 2011, but the ballclub never has won a World Series. It was the closest the team has ever gotten to being World Champions.
In 2012 and 2013 the Rangers finished second in the A.L. West to the Oakland Athletics but drew a record number three million fans each of those two seasons, all while Ryan was at the helm.
In March of 2013 Daniels was given the title of president of baseball operations and Ryan no longer knew exactly what his role with the club was. He “retired” from the Rangers in October 2013, at the time saying he wanted to spend more time with his family on his Texas Ranch.
Yet Ryan’s retirement did not last long. By February 2014 he agreed to become an executive advisor to the Houston Astros, where his son Reid Ryan is the presdent of the club’s business operations. This made it pretty clear that Ryan did not like working so closely with Daniels. There have been rumors of a feud between the two however neither party has officially admitted to one.
Now here is where the curse comes into play. When talking to a Rangers’ fans recently he referred to it as the “Curse of Nolan Ryan.” Ryan left and the club began to unravel. This idea does not seem completely unreasonable.
In 2014 Rangers suffered more injuries, not just minor but major season-ending injuries, than any other team in recent memory. By the All-Star break the Rangers had suffered over two dozen injuries including 12 pitchers, six infielders and a catcher.
By the end of the season the Rangers had set a record for having the most active players on their 25-man roster in a single season and in September manager Ron Washington resigned suddenly for personal reasons.
The Rangers ended the 2014 season dead last in the American League. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks lost more games last season than the Rangers and it was only by three.
One might call it a fluke, but if something is a fluke it happens just once and everyone involved goes on their merry way.
But what if that “something” actually happens twice? Can you still call it a fluke? Because so far, and it’s only March, the Rangers appear headed for round two of the 2014 season.
Ace Yu Darvish is out for the season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament meaning he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery that will likely keep him out for part of the 2016 season as it has a 12-18 month recovery time. Most clubs prefer going the 18 month route these days because of the sudden rise in the number of Tommy John procedures among pitchers throughout the league.
Jurickson Profar, once the top rated prospect in baseball, missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. He opted to go with rest and rehabilitation last season and also during the offseason. It didn’t work and now he’ll be out the entire 2015 season after having recently had surgery.
The bullpen is already starting to have issues. It was reported Monday that the Rangers may be starting the season without their primary seventh-inning reliever Shawn Tolleson and set-up man Tanner Scheppers.
Scheppers had an MRI on his sore ankle Monday, which he rolled two weeks ago and has still not healed. Tolleson has been battling forearm soreness. Both pitchers are key to the Rangers’ bullpen and both may begin the season on the disabled list.
“His poor plate discipline and bad base running (a league-worst 15 times caught stealing and a stolen-base success rate of just 64%) dropped him to barely above replacement level last season (1.0 WAR), his final year before beginning an eight-year extension worth a staggering $118 million.”
Slugger Prince Fielder, who is also under a very expensive long-term contract, will be returning but no one knows what to expect from Fielder. He is, afterall, coming off of cervical fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Add that to the fact that if you look at his numbers they have been regressing each of the past four seasons prior to 2014 and the signs are not promising.
How do all these injuries revert back to Nolan Ryan? While you can’t blame the loss of Ryan directly or scientifically, the timing fits. For 84 years the Boston Red Sox and their fans blamed the loss of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for their World Series dry spell.
Ruth was important to the Red Sox, just as Ryan has, for a long time, been an important part of the Texas Rangers.
From his most recent time with the Rangers where he not only worked as CEO but mentored the pitchers to his many years as a player for the club, the Rangers have needed Nolan Ryan.
“He was a mentor and a friend,” Holland said. “He helped me on and off the field. I’m going to miss him.”
Ryan’s history with the team began as a player when he signed as a free agent in December of 1988. Ryan threw two of his seven no-hitters for the Rangers and also reached several career milestones during his time in Arlington.
He got his 300th career victory on July 30, 1990 away from home against the Milwaukee Brewers and also became the only pitcher in baseball history to record 5,000 career strikeouts, an achievement he accomplished with Texas. He went on to finish his career with 5,714 strikeouts.
Ryan played the final game of his 27-year career with the Rangers in 1993. Ryan was 46 years old.
Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, Ryan is the only player in the Hall of Fame who wears a Rangers logo on his plague and his number (34) is the only number besides the universally retired Jackie Robinson‘s (42) that has been retired by the team. A statue of Ryan also stands at the Rangers’ ballpark.
Needless to say, Ryan is probably the biggest and most important player in the history of the Texas Rangers franchise.
When he returned to the team they improved to the point of being the best in the American League, since his left they have dropped to being the worst in the American League, coincidence? Perhaps. Or it could be the “Curse of Nolan Ryan?” Only time will tell.
Thus far however, the Rangers’ bad luck since Ryan left has not subsided.
For more information on the injured Texas Rangers, check out the original post that inspired this one!