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Is Angels' John Lackey having a "No No" Nolan Ryan season?

October 23, 2009 | 10:13 am
John_240 Angels pitcher John Lackey's season has a familiar ring to it, one that will make team fans cringe and squeal.

His contract is up. Management may think his best days are behind him. The 31-year-old from Abilene, Texas had an 11-8 record this season and was dominant in postseason starts. But the Angels may decide they don’t want to pay Lackey what he could get as a free agent.

Flashback to 1979, when a 32-year-old pitcher from Alvin, Texas was facing free agency. He lost a heartbreaking playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles because of a key error and bad bullpen. He begged to start in Game 4 knowing their might not be a Game 5. They didn't and there wasn’t.

The Angels decided not to resign Nolan Ryan, who was 16-14 in 1979.

All that's missing in the Lackey saga is the general manager saying, “We just have to sign two 5-4 pitchers.”

The Angels, per General Manager Buzzie Bavasi’s assertion of needing only two 8-7 pitchers, signed Bruce Kison before the 1980 season. He went 3-6 during an injury-marred season. The Angels signed Bill Travers before the 1981 season. He went 0-1 and was injured, never to pitch for them again.

Just as refresher, Ryan helped the Houston Astros reach the National League Championship Series in 1980 and led the National League in earned-run average in 1981. He pitched 14 more seasons, won 324 games and finished with a major league record 5,714 strikeouts.

-- Chris Foster

Chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

Photo: A multiple exposure of Angels starting pitcher John Lackey in action against the New York Yankees yesterday. Photo credit: Andrew Gombert / European Press Agency.  

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