34 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Texas Rangers.
There will be no #34 for the Rangers this season. That number is retired, in honor of Nolan Ryan, who is credited by many for saving baseball in the Metroplex when he came to the Rangers as a free agent in the late-80s, and who is credited by many for getting the Rangers to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.
The facts don't really line up with either of those things, of course, but facts don't always matter when you are dealing with someone who is larger than life. There's a Nolan Ryan who runs alongside guys like Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett in the "Texas Legends" race at Rangers games...do you really think anyone else associated with the Rangers right now is going to get such an honor?
That said, the legend is gone, choosing to sell his stake in the team, leave, and take a figurehead role with the Astros, rather than stay in Texas with what he viewed as a demotion. And that's his choice. We spent the 2013 season with Ryan, and his role, hanging over everything and being a constant topic of discussion. We spent the 2014 with Ryan, and his departure, and then his joining the Astros, hanging over everything and being a constant topic of discussion.
Hopefully, in 2015, we can move on.