February 20, 2013

Texas Rangers fans will know enough to boo Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is no angel with the way he’s handled his departure.

He came here as Lazarus.

But now he’s nothing but a Judas, dressed in Angels clothing.

Have it your way, Josh Hamilton.

Galloway and Big Mac: Josh Hamilton spouts off

He could have departed Texas on friendlier, godlier, more gracious terms.

Instead, Hamilton hasn’t been humble enough to see there was another way.

Speaking Sunday to CBS 11’s Gina Miller in Arizona, Hamilton awkwardly sought to deflect the blame on him for the Texas Rangers’ late-season 2012 collapse.

“There are true baseball fans in Texas,” Hamilton said, “but it’s not a true baseball town.”

A true baseball town, Hamilton seemed to be trying to say, wouldn’t have pointed fingers at him as the Rangers squandered a five-game division lead in the season’s final eight days.

A true baseball town, Hamilton seemed to suggest, would have understood when he took himself out of a key late-September series against the Angels.

A true baseball town wouldn’t have dwelled on his dropping that fly ball in Oakland and for meekly striking out in the wild-card game against the Orioles.

Real fans would understand, Hamilton appeared to say.

Bad fans would boo.

He’s on to us, apparently. At one particularly nauseating point in the CBS 11 interview, Hamilton turned his head to the camera and winked knowingly as he accused Rangers fans of being spoiled.

Have it your way, Josh Hamilton.

Much of the post-interview rhetoric, unfortunately, has been spent debating the popularity of tackle football on the North Texas sporting landscape.

But I decline to think that was Hamilton’s point.

He was calling you out. He was saying that fans here aren’t savvy enough to understand what really happened last season as the Rangers fell apart.

As if he is.

Never mind that the entire clubhouse was aghast when he took himself out of the opener of an important mid-September series in Anaheim. Never mind that the manager chose to confront him after Hamilton botched the fly ball in Oakland.

Never mind that the Rangers were so concerned about Hamilton’s long-range dependability that they allowed him to shop his wares on the free agent market — a move that wife Katie likened to “letting us give our hearts away.”

Oh, please, lady.

Hers and Josh’s hearts had a price tag on them. What’s that say about the courtship with the Angels?

Free agency happens. Tough baseball decisions are made every off-season.

But most players and teams make them and move on.

Hamilton seems to still be bothered by the unseemly way the 2012 season ended. He should be.

But he could have defused that easily last December when he was introduced to the Angels crowd in Anaheim. He could have thanked Rangers fans and the organization for standing behind him for five seasons.

For giving him an “accountability partner” to guide him on road trips. For not abandoning him after the two incidents when his behavior strayed.

Instead, Hamilton chose the less enlightened way out. He tried to blame someone else, like an addict usually does.

There is a reported movement afoot to greet Hamilton with silence when he returns to Rangers Ballpark for the first time.

Such a gesture, let me suggest, would go right over Josh’s curly head.

He needs to be booed — booed for not having the courage to accept the price of his free-agent decision.

Booed for blaming you, the people who embraced him and cheered for him and prayed for him for five sometimes-stormy seasons.

But have it your way, Josh Hamilton.

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