The Ryan Express, at age 61, hasn't lost much off his 100-mph fastball.
Dan Patrick: Howhard can you throw now?
Nolan Ryan: Lastsummer I was in Japan, and they asked me to throw out a first pitch, and theywanted me to throw hard. I threw to Bobby Valentine, and they had me on the gunat 85.
DP: Do you thinkyou could throw 90 if I gave you two months to get ready?
NR: I probablycould. There's nothing wrong with my arm; it's my joints that bother me.
DP: You couldgive me two innings, couldn't you?
NR: [Laughs.]They'd have to swing at the first pitch.
DP: Is youropinion on Roger Clemens different now from five years ago?
NR: No. It's justa shame that Roger has gotten caught up in this situation and that he took theposition that he did, and that so many things have come out that have reallycast a bad light on his career. If you look at some of the other players thatstepped up and said, "Hey, I did it, and I knew it was wrong," andasked for forgiveness, they've gone on about their business.
DP: Did you everhave a pitch count?
NR: Only onetime, when I had an elbow problem.
DP: What's themost pitches you threw in one game?
NR: Somewherearound 238, 242....
DP: That's fivestarts for Joba Chamberlain.
NR: Well,obviously the attitudes about pitching today are completely different.
DP: How did theRangers decide to take a chance on Josh Hamilton, given his history?
NR: I have tocredit Jon Daniels, our general manager, because I wasn't here at the time. Butthey did an awful lot of homework on him. They really, truly felt Josh wascommitted and on the right track.
DP: Who would youcompare him to?
NR: He's one ofthe most talented players I've ever seen. I compare him to Mickey Mantle. He'sa big version of a Mickey Mantle. The phenomenal thing about Josh is that for aman of his size he is truly a centerfielder.
DP: Would youdust him off if he came up against you in your prime?
NR: I wouldn'twant to make him mad.
You Can Only Hopeto Contain It
Cleveland's Dawg Pound (above) will test the NFL's new conduct policy for fansissued last week: No abusive language, no verbal harassment of opposingfans—and plenty of other rules that look great on paper. But how do you policethis? After all these years (and all those beers), how do you ask fans to crisptheir pocket squares? Here's a more realistic solution: Designate some sections"family friendly." This would give parents a sanctuary from the zoothat can't be tamed.
DAVID STERN'Sdrive to globalize basketball may be going a little too well. Last week EarlBoykins signed with an Italian team and Carlos Arroyo left for Israel,following Josh Childress overseas. Fans may see these as acceptable losses, butif the dollar stays weak, the NBA will lose a star someday soon. I see it beinga player late in his career. Just as David Beckham came to the U.S. for a lastbig paycheck, an American star will do the same in Europe. Maybe Kobe Bryant(right) will return to Italy, where he grew up. How much do you think he wouldbe worth in lire—50 billion?
A Kidd NamedPops
ON HIS trip toChina, the eldest member of the USA basketball team, by a good five years,hasn't found much respect. Jason Kidd, 35, has not only had to battle ChrisPaul and Deron Williams for playing time—during the walk-up games he joked tome that his role on the team was "making sure everyone has enoughGatorade"—and he's also had to endure being referred to as Pops by histeammates. I asked him if that nickname stung a little, and he told me, "Itstings a lot. And it definitely stings when they ask me if I was in the '84Olympics."
THE FINE PRINT:Steelers DT Casey Hampton reported to camp at 350 pounds. He was placed on thePhysically Unable to Have a Salad list.
Go toDANPATRICK.COM for more from Nolan Ryan and other recent interviews, and hearlive audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m. to noon ET, Mon.-Fri.
MATTHEW EMMONS/US PRESSWIRE (DAWG POUND)
BOB ROSATO (BRYANT)
JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES (KIDD)
BILL BAPTIST/GETTY IMAGES (RYAN)
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER