As the resident Josh Hamilton apologist at Nolan Writin I have taken some time and really looked at what Hamilton said, what he didn’t say, and maybe what he should have said. Hamilton is easily the most divisive Texas Rangers player. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has kept up with the slugger’s career. Since his comeback you either love him or you hate him. He is a hard player to be noncommitted about.
Baseball is America’s game, but like America it is full of things no one wants to talk about; drugs, alcohol, betting, cheating, throwing games, failure and injury. It is a game that as a fan brings your hopes through the roof and at the same time can rip your heart out of your chest and throw it into a blender. Being a fan of Hamilton you need to understand that through the ups and downs of whatever crises of the day is for Josh, you need him almost as much as he needs you.
Hamilton made the schism between Rangers fans even larger with his comments during a recent press conference. The quote that has caused the latest outrage is
“The Rangers have done a lot of me. I have a question. Have I done a lot for the Rangers? I think I have given them everything I’ve got. When it comes down to is, people have to understand this is a business. I love Texas, I love the fans, I love the organization and I love my teammates. But I’m not going to sit here and say I owe the Rangers. I don’t feel I owe the Rangers.”
Okay fair enough, it’s a pretty poor way to talk. It makes him come off completely pretentious and aloof and not in line with his much quoted ways of trying to live a Christ based lifestyle.
Let’s put this statement into a little bit of context shall we. It was made during a 36 minute press conference that included Hamilton reading 5 different Bible verses. Hamilton had a lot to say and he took the time to say just about everything he wanted to. But the less than 60 seconds that came to haunt Hamilton is almost taken as he was asked the question on a lark and he went off, which simply isn’t that case.
The question that he attempted to answer was in the spirit of does he owe the Rangers a hometown discount in his contract negotiations. Not to trash other players, but Albert Pujols didn’t give Saint Louis a hometown discount, Prince Fielder didn’t give Milwaukee a hometown discount, Alex Rodriquez hasn’t giving anyone a discount, and even my beloved Michael Young demanded a trade when Adrian Beltre was brought on board. Hamilton is right, when it comes to money it’s a business and its his right to get every penny he can.
In all fairness it was the Rays, the Reds and Cubs who helped Hamilton get his MLB career kick started after the implosion that he created. To the credit of the Rangers they saw him not as a junkie who once was able to play baseball, but as someone who can be a strong portion of a team and they got him for cheap. The Rangers built a confidence system around him to make be able to produce at the level he should be able to, not out of the kindness of their heart, but because they wanted the weapon that he could be.
Since the press conference that made this publicity nightmare occurred Hamilton has attempted to make his position clearer to mixed results. I will argue that before any fan throws him under the bus for that statement, would you if asked by a boss take less money for your job and allow offers of a great deal more money to be ignored. I wouldn’t.
But I think Hamilton stays. He is a once in a lifetime talent who, if he hadn’t been stupid as a high school graduate, may have been a HOF candidate. Hamilton will spend the rest of his life chasing what he should have been and then trying to change his future from what he could have been to what he can be. He was a MVP once, an almost annual All Star and someone who can bring in a huge fan base. Does he have issues? Yes. Does he play his heart out? Yes. Could he turn a trashed career into one that could be a record breaker? Yes. Maybe I’m a romantic, maybe I know Josh wants glory and wants to win, but I see his association with Texas as a great mutually beneficial one.
Just remember this at one time Nolan Ryan was a Met with control issues.