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Column: Pressure now on Greenberg, Ryan


When you get down to it, it's amazing that the Rangers' sale took as long as a full-term pregnancy.

Take an iconic Texan figure, the most beloved player to ever wear the Rangers "T." Pair him with a born deal-maker who has spent the last decade apprenticing as a minor league owner with a knack for Veeck family-style promotion and Rooney family-style customer service. To that, add the current owner who is beyond reluctant to sell, and allow him to remain around, even giving him a seat on the board of directors.

All those pieces were in place in May when Myrtle Beach Pelicans principal owner Chuck Greenberg first started researching the possibility of forging an investment group to take the Rangers off the hands of debt-ridden Hicks Sports Group. But it took him a couple of months to approach Nolan Ryan about joining him. It took longer still to convince Tom Hicks that this move would be the best for the Rangers and Hicks' legacy.

And even after this match had come together, it took a week past the MLB-imposed deadline to actually put pen to paper.

Now all that stands in the way is the approval of MLB's owners and 40 lenders, which is to say that even though a deal is in place, it will be a while before that deal is official.

For Rangers fans, though, it doesn't matter. For them, it no longer matters how well-qualified the Greenberg-Ryan duo may be. It doesn't matter how diligently or how patiently they worked to get the deal done.

They are on the clock.

To carry the pregnancy analogy a bit further: Nobody wants to hear about how hard the labor is; they just want to see the baby.

This baby? It better be gorgeous. And it better be wearing bling.

The success of the Greenberg-Ryan Era will depend on it. Greenberg can make the park as fan-friendly as possible, by updating video boards and listening to complaints. Ryan can talk tough, challenge pitchers and hitters and even change management if he likes. If it doesn't produce a championship -- and even if it does -- there is likely to be criticism.

Ownership is most often a thankless proposition. You get all the blame and none of the credit. Ask the guy on the way out the door.

Hicks spent lavishly in his first four years running the club and got nary a playoff win to show for it. He bought the best player in the game and got nothing but losing records and the scorn of the rest of baseball for overpaying for Alex Rodriguez.

When he finally changed directions and preached fiscal responsibility, he was accused of being too cheap and lining his pockets at the expense of Rangers fans. Some of the criticism was deserved, sure. Some, but not all.

As part of the ownership group, this is the arena Ryan enters. It's where he is taking a huge risk, a bigger risk than whatever money he may invest in this group. His entire reputation is at stake.

Sure, he was a Hall of Fame pitcher with impeccable credentials and a right fine rancher, too. And he even wore that unusual sounding title of "Honest Banker." But if the Rangers don't win under his watch, the final chapter of his long baseball career will be filled with criticism.

Right or wrong, if a pitcher breaks down now, there will be questions over whether the tough-love approach is right for the modern ballplayer. If the Rangers miss out on a free agent, there will be calls that the management group is either more concerned with a profit or not well-enough funded to build a champion.

Every summation of his career will end with . . . "but he couldn't fix the Rangers."

The signing of the sales agreement means the honeymoon is over for Greenberg and Ryan. It may have been short, but restless Rangers fans are going to want to see this marriage produce one gorgeous baby. Quickly.