I like steak, you like steak, steak steak steak (from Randy Galloway's morning column):
On Wednesday, the Rangers went the way of Japan to make a young pitcher very wealthy. But two weeks ago that same young pitcher came the way of downtown Fort Worth in selling Nolan Ryan on the wisdom of the investment.
In a get-to-know-you dinner at Del Frisco's, Ryan ordered his usual filet. And Yu Darvish?
"The kid had the onion rings, followed by lobster," said Ryan. "Then when his steak came out, that thing was so big Secretariat couldn't have jumped over it. Pretty dang impressive."
As a ranch owner and cattleman, Nolan approved of the Darvish dinner order.
Galloway, of course, made quite a big deal out of Nolan not returning his calls in the wake of the Rangers' winning bid for Darvish's negotiating rights, and more than hinted around the idea that Nolan wasn't actually on board with the team's pursuit of Darvish due to his implied preference for fiscal restraint where other big-money guys like Cliff Lee and Mark Buehrle were concerned.
I'm still not sure what the point of hearing from Nolan at that point would have been, seeing as how all we would have gotten would have been some cookie-cutter statements about his upside and stuff and how much the organization believes in him ... and, heck, maybe Nolan realized that. Or maybe he decided to do the logical thing and abide by the organization's usual low-key M.O. when it comes to talking -- or, rather, not talking -- about players that the organization is negotiating with. Or maybe he just felt like blowing Galloway off.
Anyway, I'm also not quite sure what to make of this part:
The steak at Del Frisco's in downtown Fort Worth happened.
"When [Darvish] came here, that's when I started to change my mind," Ryan said. "Watching all the film on him, talking to our guys with all the extensive scouting reports, those were selling points.
"But then to meet Yu, sit down with him, talk to him, get to know him, then that took things into another area. Beyond the pitching part, I liked the way he carried himself, I liked his attitude and his commitment to conditioning, and his commitment to going to the next stage, the stage over here, and proving himself."
Until the introduction in downtown Fort Worth two weeks ago, Nolan wasn't sold on the investment, but Rangers ownership had been presented the facts, and OK'd the massive $51.7 million "posting" fee.
In addition, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and his scouts had homed in on Darvish two years ago in Japan, knowing the day was coming when the kid wanted to move to an MLB mound.
So, based on this narrative, I'm guessing that Nolan had been briefed on Darvish by the baseball operations department, decided he was okay with the organizational push on Darvish but still lukewarm overall, and then had his confidence taken over the finish line by this dinner meeting ... and steak. If that's how things played out, though, then I don't know that the arrival of Nolan's unequivocal blessing -- or lack thereof -- would have made a legitimate difference one way or the other.
Either that, or Nolan in fact decided that he wasn't on board with the Darvish pursuit, and ownership and the baseball operations department overruled him. That doesn't seem to be what happened, but if it was, then clearly Nolan's blessing didn't play a material role in things one way or the other.
That isn't to say that Nolan isn't/won't be playing a valuable role in advising and mentoring Darvish. I do, however, find it rather hard to conceive a scenario where the baseball operations department sunk two years and an untold amount of resources (money and time) into Darvish, sold the big money guys in the ownership group on pursuing him, and then had the whole thing torpedoed to hell by Nolan himself.