Following the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 defeat yesterday at the hands of the Texas Rangers, the not-so-forgotten former Rangers (now Angel) Josh Hamilton profusely spouted after the Angels loss. His poor hurt little feelings conjured his reaction to most of the 48,845 Fans in sold out Rangers Ballpark in Arlington who were booing and taunting him almost in unison upon his appearance at the Texas Ranger home opener yesterday. The only time the Texas Fans cheered was in recognition and appreciation of Hamilton’s 0 for 4 performance at the plate and his less than superb play in the field which certainly brought back memories of his last two games as a Ranger.
Hamilton reacted in a surprisingly naïve and arrogant manner reflecting that he was surprised how quickly the fans turned against him and then attributed his safe passage through his poor performance and negative reception by the fans first by the story of “Jesus being rebuked in Jerusalem” (Yikes!) and perhaps more appropriately to his kids. Now we applaud his Family and hope that they can see him through some equally hard times yet to come.
Seems that Hamilton has forgotten his many slams against Dallas and north Texas which include – his now famous statement that DFW was not a good baseball town. He may be speaking for himself though the loyal 3.5 million fans that passed those turnstiles last year might take offense. Today – they let Hamilton know how they felt and the big video board welcomed Hamilton to “Baseball Town.” While we will concede that football may still reign in Texas the mediocre Dallas Cowboys appear to have lost the America’s Team label.
An egocentric Hamilton optimistically offered before the game that, "It will be mixed feelings from the crowd. People who really get it will cheer and the people who don't will boo. Either way, I'll do what I got to do to help my team win." I guess from his perspective very few in the stands, “got it.” He’s right and everybody else is wrong.
Those not familiar with the situation here in Texas need know that Hamilton’s insensitive remarks were the absolute burning bridge with Texas and one the Fans will never forget. We have heard of other more inflammatory remarks made by Hamilton about Texas. Following the game today Hamilton also deflected, “I’m glad I could help create spirit and fire in this town. This was louder than any playoff game that I’ve ever been to.” It continues and, well, you get the drift… All this from a kid from Raleigh, North Carolina who was kicked around the minors in the Tampa Bay organization, a short stint with Cincinnati and then his mostly impressive but troubled tenure with the Rangers.
How could Hamilton forget his pitiful performance in the last regular-season game at Oakland when the American League West Division crown was at stake? Hamilton appeared to be dogging it in the most important game of the year and blew a routine fly ball, an error that would have ended the inning and ultimately cost the Rangers the game and the pennant. That botched play is still out there for the whole world to see in its nauseating detail on YouTube and a myriad other sports sites.
In the American League wild card game the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Rangers 5-1 to advance in the 2012 playoffs. Hamilton’s sorry performance at the plate (0 for 4 with two strikeouts) was absolutely the last straw. The Boo Birds were out in full force following that debacle with most thinking that Hamilton just wasn’t motivated and even worse – didn’t appear to care. His impressive performance legacy for his five years with Texas drew a sobering contrast with the end of the 2012 season where Hamilton actually struck out 20 times in his last 46 at-bats as a Ranger. Following that game Hamilton hinted to his exodus to California by paraphrasing Matthew 10:14, “If they don’t receive you in a town, shake the dust off your feet and move to the next.” Like an angry two year old he took his toys and ran out of town. It certainly appears to many that it’s all about him and he really doesn’t understand the risk the Rangers took and now the Angels assume. Hamilton followed the pot of gold though ultimately many agree now that this move was best for Hamilton and The Rangers. Again, it’s all in the how he handled the transition.
The word this writer heard on the street was that the Rangers unwilling to be enablers offered Hamilton a short term package (three years) with incentives where he would have “shared some of the risk” given his “special circumstances”. Hamilton declined. That failing the Rangers really didn’t want Hamilton back. The fact that Hamilton never gave the Rangers the chance to counter the Angels' offer would suggest that he really didn’t want to come back either. Works for us.
Beyond all of Hamilton’s 2012 late season performance issues was the reality that Ranger Fans had embraced and nurtured Hamilton as he negotiated his way through alcohol and drug abuse (several times) and an organization that could have bailed on him and cut him loose. They didn’t and the Fans rose to his rescue only to witness what some feel was the false piety of being conveniently “born again” following a couple of his very public 2009 and 2012 escapades. Josh Hamilton is and will always be a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Hamilton despite all his bombast is fragile and with all of his issues needs all the support, encouragement and supervision/monitoring he and the Angels (and their fans) can muster.
If Hamilton eventually comes to the conclusion that he wants to repair his relationship with Texans, he also needs to learn to keep his mouth shut (“I don’t care what people think.”) and also learn to better appreciate those who tried to help him when he was down. This town became a village and helped him every way they could. Then he showed disrespect and insensitivity to folks who genuinely cared about him, his Family and his future. They may not have been the critical part of his intimate support group but they came to the Rangers games and rooted and prayed for him. And then he left after lackluster performances the end of last season and followed with what was perceived as a personal affront and damage that he will never be able to repair unless he also learns some humility and apologies to those that cared for him most of all.
So, yes, this was more of a personal issue with Hamilton. The Fans feel they now see him as he really is though we counsel that tomorrow is another day. So who cares about Josh Hamilton? Despite all the rhetoric we all do and wish Hamilton and the Angels a smooth passage.
PS - In this Saturday's Rangers-Angels game Josh went 0 for 4 again including two strikeouts. The Angels, however, turned themselves around convincingly defeating the Rangers 8-4. Hamilton revealed that his wife who was sitting in the stands for Friday night's game with their children and had to call security because of taunting and some alleged harassment. Hamilton's wife and children returned to Ranger Stadium Saturday though accepted the hospitality of Ranger's management in one of their private suites. Ladies and Gentleman if the allegations by Hamilton are correct, then we need to clean up our act. We've made our point. Time to move on and become the true fans we are...