Source close to Nolan Ryan: “70/30 that he leaves”

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No news has spun out since it was reported that Nolan Ryan was considering leaving the Texas Rangers as a result of him, apparently anyway, being bypassed in the chain of command for Jon Daniels. But Kirk Bohls of the Austin Statesmen spoke to a source who makes it sound like Ryan’s time with Texas is almost over:

Almost no one is betting he stays. One person very close to Ryan said it was “70-30” that he leaves, stung by his ill treatment. He’s never been one to make rash, emotional decisions.

He shrugged those massive shoulders that, combined with Earl Campbell-like thighs, made him one of the most feared pitchers in the game and said he would return home Tuesday to help with the Rangers’ two exhibition games in San Antonio later this week. Beyond that?

“I haven’t commented much on that,” he said in his distinctive Texas drawl, “so I’m going to leave that alone.”

There’s a Rangers exhibition series in San Antonio before Opening Day, and Ryan is supposed to be a big part of that.  One gets the distinct impression that he’s gonna play his part there and then walk away as the season gets underway.

Which, well, whatever. I know there is an emotional connection between Ryan and the Rangers and, more importantly, Ryan and the Rangers fans. But if we’ve learned anything over the past decade or so, modern front offices are no place for nostalgia. If the decision makers with the Rangers don’t see Ryan as essential — and if we’re not dealing with some crazy dysfunctional management team here, which we aren’t — it’s hard to say what purpose Ryan staying really would serve.

Mike Piazza presided over the destruction of a 100-year-old soccer team

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Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame in January of 2016 and inducted in July of 2016. In between those dates he purchased an Italian soccer team, A.C. Reggiana 1919, a member of Italy’s third division. In June of that year he was greeted as a savior in Reggio Emilia, the small Italian town in which the team played. He was the big American sports star who was going to restore the venerable club to its past and rightful place of glory.

There were suggestions by last March that things weren’t going well, but know we know that in less than two years it all fell apart. Piazza and his wife Alicia presided over a hot mess of a business, losing millions of dollars and, this past June, they abruptly liquidated the club. It is now defunct — one year short of its centennial — and a semipro team is playing in its place, trying to acquire the naming rights from Piazza as it wends its way though bankruptcy.

Today at The Athletic, Robert Andrew Powell has a fascinating — no, make that outrageously entertaining — story of how that all went down from the perspective of the Piazzas. Mostly Alicia Piazza who ran the team in its second year when Mike realized he was in over his head. She is . . . something. Her quotes alone are worth the price of admission. For example:

Alicia, who refers to Mike’s ownership dream as “his midlife crisis,” offered up a counter argument.

“Who the f**k ever heard of Reggio Emilia?” she asked. “It’s not Venice. It’s not Rome. My girlfriend said, and you can quote this—and this really depressed me. She said, ‘Honey, you bought into Pittsburgh.’ Like, it wasn’t the New York Yankees. It wasn’t the Mets. It wasn’t the Dodgers. You bought Pittsburgh!”

In their Miami living room, Mike tried to interject but she stopped him.

“And imagine what that feels like, after spending 10 million euros. You bought Pittsburgh!”

At this point it may be worth remembering that Piazza is from Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania to be sure, but still.

Shockingly, it didn’t end all that well for the Piazzas in Reggio Emilia:

One week later, the Piazzas returned to Reggio Emilia, and were spotted at the team offices. More than a hundred ultras marched into the office parking lot, chanting and demanding answers. Carabinieri—national police aligned with the military—showed up for the Piazzas’ safety. The police advised the Americans to avoid the front door of the complex and exit through the back. Mike assured them it wouldn’t be necessary—he had always enjoyed a good relationship with the fans.

The carabinieri informed him that the relationship had changed. The Piazzas slipped out the back door, under police escort.

The must-read of the week. Maybe the month. Hell, maybe the year. The only thing I can imagine topping it is if someone can tell this story from the perspective of the people in Reggio Emilia. I’m guessing their take is a bit different than the Piazzas.