Josh Hamilton – Rangers Legend

Hamilton

Yesterday, our newest writer, Jeremy Stroop, wrote a pretty abrasive piece about Josh Hamilton. While some of what Stroop said are indeed facts, the way he approached those facts are what ruffled many feathers.

I want to talk about why I think Josh Hamilton is one of the all-time Rangers greats and should be treated as such.

I remember picking up Hamilton off the waiver wire in my fantasy baseball league midway through the 2007 season. I remember thinking, “man, who is this Hamilton dude blasting 19 home runs in 298 at bats and posting a .922 OPS?!”

Then, as the cold winter battered our spirits, Jon Daniels made a trade for that same Hamilton. Suddenly, the guy I was excited about for my fantasy team was now on my favorite team – in real life! This is awesome!

Let’s face it. Hamilton was one strike away from being hoisted as the greatest DFW athlete of all time. And I say that with the utmost confidence.

Think about it. The guy hits a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning in Game 6 of the World Series after his team blew it in the bottom of the ninth. If the Rangers can get that final out, Hamilton goes down as the greatest DFW athlete of all time.

He surpasses Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars, who of course scored the game winning goal to clinch the Stanley Cup in 1999.

He surpasses Dirk Nowitzki, Troy Aikman and any other athlete who has won a title for DFW.

Why?

Simple. People don’t remember what leads up to the moment. People only remember the moment itself. The only thing people would have remembered would have been that Josh Hamilton hit a World Series winning home run.

Anything that Hamilton did after that, short of murdering someone, would have been forgivable.

If you have ever been to an event where Hamilton was present, Fan Fest as an example, you’d know that he was all about the kiddos. Every kid that came through his autograph line, he was making funny faces for pictures even though you weren’t supposed to take pictures. He was giving kids high fives and fist bumps. He was going out of his way to make sure the youngsters really got a chance to not only get his autograph, but pseudo-meet him.

There are certain other players that do that too, but very few of his caliber.

Hamilton doesn’t come to us without problems. Sure, he was/is an addict. Sure he was/is an alcoholic. But who are we to judge? Are we so perfect in our lives that we can cast stones without repercussions? Are we so perfect in our daily lives that we go day in and day out without making any mistakes? Are we so perfect that we’ve never made a mistake that had a lasting effect on the rest of our lives? One that we may still be paying for today?

Not in the least bit. I’m not a doctor nor am I a psychologist, I don’t know what it’s like to battle those demons because I thankfully have never had an addiction and I’d be willing to bet that Jeremy Stroop doesn’t either.

Josh Hamilton had Yankee Stadium chanting his name during the 2008 Home Run Derby. Yankee Stadium doesn’t chant any name that isn’t a Yankee. THAT in and of itself is impressive.

And who remembers plays like this?

Plays like that are what made Hamilton a fan favorite. Hamilton would sacrifice his body on a daily basis for baseball because it was the game he loved. It was the only way he knew how to play. 100% on the field. He would try to play through the injuries because he knew that any missed time was letting his teammates down. He didn’t want to do that.

And home runs like this, are what made fans come to the ballpark to see him. (I’ve tried to find this video from MLB.com and cannot seem to find it)

Hamilton won an American League MVP in 2010 while leading the team to their first postseason appearance since 1999. Hamilton homers in his first at bat of the ALCS vs the defending World Series Champions beginning to pave the way to an ALCS MVP.

Remember this? (If you pause it at six seconds, you can see me in the white jersey, front row right above the ‘m’ in .com and at seven seconds you can see me get more air than Michael Jordan)

Yes, Hamilton battled injuries but what the hell do you expect from someone who’s body has been battered by drugs? Yes, it’s his fault but again, we don’t know what it’s like to battle those demons. People deal with situations differently. His parents were in a car crash and were injured pretty badly from my understanding. Hamilton got mixed up with some of the wrong folks during their hospital stay which led to his addiction.

Hamilton got clean, it doesn’t matter that he had a babysitter or an accountability partner. What matters is that he got clean. He got his life back together. To sit there and bash the man for his past endeavors is simple minded and childish. To bash a man who made the effort to get clean and who made the effort to right his mind for his children and at the time his wife and family is simply elementary.

The Rangers are at heights, as a franchise, they have never seen before and Josh Hamilton was/is a HUGE part of that. Hamilton is a huge reason this team is relevant.

It was days like this that made us love Hamilton despite his flaws.

Yes Hamilton is brittle. Yes Hamilton may not play 50 games this year. Yes this in fact may be Hamilton’s last year on a baseball field but by god he was one hell of a baseball player. A TRUE 5-tool player. Hamilton could do it all in his prime and he was fun as hell to watch. He was must see baseball.

I truly believe that had Hamilton stayed clean and fulfilled his potential, he could have been one of the greatest baseball players not just of our time, but of all-time.

I truly believe that.

Hambone has his issues. He has demons. His body has paid the price for those demons. No one here thought we were getting the 2010 Hamilton. In fact, most SDI writers agreed that if we got anything out of Hamilton it would be worth the trade. We got that last year. We got a couple of walk-off hits and some great moments. We got a glimpse of what was the real Josh Hamilton.

In all honesty, baseball might be the only thing saving Josh Hamilton’s life at the moment. Frankly, that is bigger than the game itself, at least to me. You don’t let someone die because they have an issue, you do something to help them.

I don’t expect much of anything out of Hamilton this year. But what does it matter? The financial commitment is minimal and even if he is on the DL, he isn’t taking up a roster spot.

So what the hell is the problem?

Anyone in their right mind wouldn’t expect much, if anything. But let’s stop beating a dead horse here? There is no need to keep dragging him through the mud. It’s old and redundant. Get over it.

There is no need to unleash your demons on Josh Hamilton, he has plenty of them to deal with on his own.

Whether you like it or not, Josh Hamilton is a top 5 Ranger of all-time. When I think Texas Rangers, I think Pudge, Nolan, Young, Hamilton, and Beltre.

Let’s not forget that without Josh Hamilton, 2010 and 2011 probably never happen.

Josh Hamilton – Rangers Legend.

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Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

2 comments

  • Excellent article.

    You’re right, Hamilton deserves ALL the accolades for 2010 and 2011. He was the best player in baseball for two and a half years from 2010 until about June of 2012. The end of 2012 looms just as large in the Hamilton legend. I’ve never been more sports angry as I was when Hamilton dropped that fly ball and walked after it, gift-wrapping the AL West for the A’s, and that includes Nellie dropping the final out in the World Series.

    My article wasn’t intended to be personal or a hate piece. It wasn’t an indictment of Hamilton as a person or of his personal past, recent past, or present. It was an indictment of what I saw as poor judgment on the part of Rangers management to bring back a guy who had little to offer at this point and then pin their hopes on him being able to carry the load in left field.

  • Well said. I made this point on another blog recently; we all know Josh is “The Left Fielder” with intentional air quotes. He isn’t. It would have been fun if he could have platooned his way into 80 games this year…that might still happen but it’s looking increasingly unlikely. No one owes anyone anything at this point, and arguably the Rangers are “giving” Josh more than he might deserve. I think the fanbase once owed him a bit of an apology, but they gave him that when he stepped onto the field at the Ballpark. He is indeed a fallen star, and he is still fallen and still and star (and to be clear, I mean “star” in an overall sense. Of course he’s not an “allstar player” anymore). No need for more or less.

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