Surprise, Surprise. Chuck Greenberg is ... Poof.
And just like that, the man who saved Nolan Ryan's job with the Texas Rangers has been replaced.
By Nolan Ryan.
I heard rumblings about this a couple weeks ago. Even hinted in a Whitt's End and on 105.3 The Fan that there were - seemingly out of nowhere - cracks in the foundation of the relationship between Chuck Greenberg and Ryan. But I didn't see this happening this fast.
News broke last Friday that the Rangers' CEO and managing general partner was out. Gone. Kaput. A year after I sat down with him for this upbeat cover story and just seven months after winning control of the team in a dramatic, late-night auction, suddenly Greenberg is, well, not here anymore.
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I arrived in Surprise, Arizona yesterday to a record crowd of 12,014 crammed in the stadium to see the Giants club Tommy Hunter and Texas in a World Series rematch.
But on my way in I also spotted something else interesting.
In Rangers' parking spot No. 1 just behind home plate is a sign reserving the space for Nolan Ryan. In spot No. 3 there is a placard for Jon Daniels. And No. 2?
Chuck Greenberg Just a metal pole sans sign. (Though somebody was already parked in his spot. Hmm.)
When it wants to this franchise acts lickety-split quick. But it's too late for the Rangers to redact Greenberg from their hot-off-the-presses media guide. He's still listed No. 1 in the front office directory, with his profile still first and his name atop the list of 31 owners (which includes legendary singer Charley Pride).
Greenberg was always great to me and, from what I hear, all the media. Available. Affable. Ambitious. Sad to see him go. And confused at why he left.
His only statement so far ...
I have great respect for the Texas Rangers franchise and am enormously proud of all we have accomplished together since August. Unfortunately, Nolan Ryan, the Co-Chairmen, and I have somewhat different styles. While I am disappointed we did not work through our differences, I remain wholeheartedly committed to doing what's right for the franchise. Together we concluded it is best for all concerned for me to sell my interest back to Rangers Baseball Express and move on. I do so with a heavy heart, but with every confidence in the direction that the new management team is taking the Rangers and, with Nolan at the helm, I know this franchise will continue to thrive and reach even greater heights both on and off the field.
Following Tom Hicks, it seemed like Greenberg could do no wrong.
Remember, prospective owners Dennis Gilbert and Jim Crane and Mark Cuban offered no promises that Ryan would be a part of their new group. From Day 1, however, Greenberg was adamant that Nolan was a Rangers' icon whom he just had to have by his side and on his team.
Then Greenberg outbid Cuban, outbid the Yankees for Cliff Lee, oversaw the first World Series in franchise history, unveiled a $13 million scoreboard upgrade at Rangers Ballpark and then ... he's gone?
I know he blew into town promising to stay on the business side of things and I hear Nolan and Daniels were more than uncomfortable when Greenberg spoke to Lee over the winter, feuded with Yankees president Randy Levine and then made "he'll be a Ranger this season" proclamations about Michael Young this spring.
But after all he's done those oops seem fixable, no? Instead - citing personal and professional differences - Greenberg's gone and Nolan's 10-gallon hat has grown to 100-gallon control. He's president and owner and CEO and managing general partner and don't you dare cross him.
If you're keeping score, the Rangers will enter 2011 without Josh Lewin and Chuck Greenberg. In both instances, it was Ryan who wanted them gone.
On the field, I'm excited to witness Adrian Beltre's debut today against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hopefully Nolan will like what he sees. Or else.
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