SURPRISE, Ariz. (CBSDFW.COM) – “I feel like I’m at a pawn shop,” said Rangers President and CEO Nolan Ryan when he walked into his first spring training media session and saw the number of mini-tape recorders scattered on the table in front of him.
He said it was a record. I counted between 20 and 22 of them. If Wednesday is any indication, this will be a Rangers spring training like no other.
I’ve lost count the number of trips I’ve made to Surprise to cover the Rangers for two different Dallas/Fort Worth TV stations. Each time, I was either the only local TV reporter or was joined by just one other local reporting team. Candidly, it was always a small group of local TV and paper media types at the start of spring training. Even last year when the Rangers had just come off their first World Series appearance they were not the “must-see” team the first week.
I recall a handful of local reporters, sitting in the minor league dining room for two press conferences: the Nolan Ryan/Jon Daniels Q and A awkwardly followed by the Michael Young briefing explaining why he wanted to be traded. It was an intimate session and rather informal.
The addition of star Japanese Yu Darvish has brought more than 150 credentialed members of the Japanese media to Surprise, Arizona and has introduced this team to entirely new market in Asia. Playing in two straight World Series has brought national attention that I personally haven’t seen this early in spring training. ESPN had a crew in the Ryan press conference today. This was a crowd much more typical of a playoff series, not the day pitchers and catchers report.
So will any of this added attention be an issue?
“We have been elevated to a level that we weren’t accustomed to here,” Ryan said. “With the success of the ballclub over the last couple of years, (that) has probably prepared us for the additional attention that his (Yu Darvish) signing has brought to us.”
I tend to agree with Ryan on just about everything and do so here again. When it comes to the daily grind, players might get mildly annoyed at having their precious clubhouse real estate occupied by an abundance of us annoying media types but I think that might be the extent of it. If a bigger issue arises, that will be the true test of how this team deals with the added attention. In the pre-World Series, pre-Yu Darvish era, they’ve handled the bigger issues professionally and overcome them. I’d be surprised if the increased attention would affect them any differently.