In one of the worst kept secrets since the invention of the secret, the Houston Astros are set to officially announce today that they have hired Reid Ryan, son of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, to be their next team president/CEO following the sudden resignation of the last team president earlier this week.
Nolan, the Ryan most fans would have loved to welcome back to the Astros fold, currently serves as president of the Texas Rangers and owner of the two Minor League teams that son Reid oversees.
So, the Astros will hope that Reid can weave some of the same success that he has had with the Triple A Round Rock Express (Rangers affiliate) and the Double A team Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros affiliate) with his call up to the Majors.
I have attended games in both Round Rock and Corpus Christi and did enjoy the overall experience. How much of that was related to the influence of the father and how much of it was based on the son is up for debate but few can argue the quality of product being put on the field. And with years of running a pair of successful franchises behind him it seems some of that knowledge will translate to running a dysfunctional franchise like the Astros that seems to take more steps backward than forward.
Of course, in all honesty I much prefer the Ballpark experience that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and the Frisco Roughriders provide over my experience at Reid Ryan’s Ballparks in Corpus Christi and Round Rock.
But if one truly buys into the Astros public relations campaign of this being a time to strip the team down to the foundation and rebuild, than the move to hire Reid Ryan fits right into that plan.
With the team being 5-10 years away from being competitive by most estimates that gives Reid Ryan time to learn how to be a Major League Baseball team President.
To be fair, I am not alone in assessing the talent on the Astros roster and calling it Triple A level. With mandates to minimize costs coming down from the top the baseball side of the house tried to put out a quality roster on the field but with the amount of money they were given to work with it is not going to be the same level of competition of the other 29 teams when you are spending less for the whole team than many other teams pay single players.
That is not to say that the Astros won’t get lucky here and there and manage to put a win together. In fact a quarter into the season they have managed 10 such victories. After all even a broken clock is right twice a day.
So with a roster that is a moving target full of players that would still be in the minors on any other roster, and expectations for winning being as low as they are, the pressure for Reid Ryan to succeed right away would be rather low in theory allowing him the chance to proceed slower than someone taking a job at a team that was expected to win right away.
It is more likely that he will be given marching orders to try to press the flesh as it were and to mend broken fences and ill will in the community while the baseball product catches up to the Major League level.
And of course with expectations set so low in the event that he can’t right the ship few would hold that against him when he applied for other jobs. So, it really is the perfect opportunity to try some things out without committing career sabotage. Of course the famous last name also provides some protection that others would not have in terms of career protection. And having a famous father in a similar position four hours up the road that can be called for advice doesn’t hurt either.
I do hope that the rebuilding effort works out for Ryan and the Astros. The process to date has been painful to watch on several fronts.
The Public Relations major in me cringes at every misstep that the team makes. And for goodness sake find somewhere else in the ballpark to put those gaudy community partner billboards that block out the train and the skyline.
You have a stadium that offers great views of the night sky and then you go and block them with signs. Seriously?
And the whole charging fans excessive amounts of money for seats while failing to field a product worth seeing at those prices should be declared a crime.
Then there is that whole television debacle with only 40 percent of the Houston market getting to watch the games on the new Astros channel. The channel is supposed to be a revenue source for the team to allow them to spend money on players but so far that has not come to pass.
There are several other challenges that will face Reid Ryan when he takes the helm but those are certainly some of the more challenging ones that come to mind.
Did the ownership of the team under estimate what it takes to own a Major League Baseball team? Perhaps.
Can all of the missteps and public relations faux pas be fixed to allow the disenfranchised fans to return to Minute Maid Park to once again watch competitive baseball being played by the home team on a consistent basis? Time will tell.
Until then, there is a team in Sugar Land called the Skeeters to watch. I am also one of the lucky 40 percent who has the new cable channel so I can watch the Astros from the comfort of my own home without paying Major League prices to watch Minor League talent. I can also watch the Texas Rangers each night so I am thankfully not going through baseball withdrawal during the epic Astros slump.
Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about Minor League Baseball teams, and teams playing like Minor League teams has given me a sudden urge to go up to Frisco to catch the Roughriders.
Copyright 2013 R Anderson