As another insignificant Rangers season winds down, Netflix dropped a wonderful new documentary on the one man who made the Rangers significant in the first place—Nolan Ryan.
It’s called “Facing Nolan” and it’s a one-hour-and-forty-five-minute tribute to one of the few true baseball legends.
If you want to feel good about baseball, if you want to feel good about the Rangers, this is must watch TV.
If you need a reminder that the men who run baseball teams and own baseball teams are cheap, spiteful, petty, and obtuse, this does the trick too.
After single-handedly putting the California Angels on the map, dragging them out of the shadows of the Los Angeles Dodgers, striking out more than 300 hitters five out of six years, the Angels general manager showed Ryan the ultimate disrespect. In 1979, after his eighth and, what would be his final, season with the Angels, their foolish GM, refusing to meet Nolan Ryan’s contract demands, and pointing to Ryan’s 16-14 record, ignorantly said, “I could sign two 8-7 pitchers for what he wants.”
Houston jumped on the opportunity, making Ryan the first million-dollar contract in sports history, their minority owner later admitting Ryan was worth even more than that.
That’s just one of the behind-the-scenes gems unearthed in “Facing Nolan.” There’s the story of how the Astros owner would eventually disrespected him, causing him to leave Houston for Texas. How the Rangers signed him because ownership went above and beyond to get him. How Rangers GM Tom Grieve and manager Bobby Valentine danced in the hallway of the hotel at the winter meetings when they knew they had him. How Ryan transformed the Rangers from a joke to an actual major league franchise. And how he kept going and going and going and going, seemingly getting better. All the way to Cooperstown.
“Facing Nolan” has a 98 percent critic rating on Rotten Tomato. A 100% audience rating. And a 110% Rangers Rounding 3rd rating.
Nolan Ryan owns 51 major league records. Most of them will never be touched. Baseball will never see another pitcher like him.