When it comes to Josh Hamilton, consider me a fan, though not one of him as a ball player. I like the story of Hamilton’s, it is one of great triumph and failure, and more triumph and failure. On the field and in the locker room though, I’m not a fan. He is famous for his story, but his story is one of many problems. Any team that takes Hamilton on as a player, also has to assume the responsibilities, and struggles, of having him on the team.
Consider this story, from 2012 when Josh Hamilton was still with the Rangers. He HAS quit on his team before when things got tough. In some seemingly big games in that 2012 season, he took himself out of the game. When he misplayed a fly ball, he didn’t put forth much effort to go get it. As a fan of the game, and someone who has misjudged their fair share of fly balls, I am okay with making mistakes. That is what baseball is about: overcoming failure. What I’m not okay with, is lack of effort.
Many Rangers fans will also remember Hamilton’s comments about Dallas, “Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town. They’re supportive but they also got a little spoiled at the same time, pretty quickly. There’s true baseball fans in Texas, but it’s not a true baseball town.”
Considering the context of these comments, Hamilton had just signed a free agent deal for five years and $125 million with the Los Angeles Angels, and had been booed out of the ballpark by the fans over the last few games of the season, I may be willing to give Hamilton a pass. I’m not so much worried about what the comments mean, essentially because he is 100% right. Dallas (and outlying areas of the DFW metroplex) crank out a ton of football talent. Whereas Houston, produces a lot of baseball talent in the state. That isn’t to say that football talent doesn’t come from Houston, and it doesn’t mean that baseball talent doesn’t come from Dallas (Clayton Kershaw).
In a thorough examination of Hamilton’s time in LA, there are even more things to question. His batting average dropped 50 points, his home run totals were cut in half, and his RBIs were almost cut in half. On top of that, Hamilton was getting paid to be the second best hitter in the LA lineup behind Albert Pujols. What actually transpired was that Mike Trout came in and became the best player on the team, with Pujols starting slowly but coming around, and Hamilton actually being the fifth or sixth best hitter on the team.
Again, I love the personal story of Josh Hamilton, and I think it is one that anyone could respect and enjoy, and I do. For a long time, I even enjoyed watching him play because he was, the best position player on the field for the Rangers when they were at their peak. But off-the-field issues have soured me on Josh Hamilton as a player. I want as much as anybody to see the Josh Hamilton of a few years ago show up in Arlington. We’ve seen in a few games this year, a multi-homer game and a walk off from him, so I think that Texas is good for Hamilton, and that Hamilton is good for Texas.