April 11, 2013

Josh and Katie Hamilton are giving Rangers fans a bad rap

Booing, holding up signs and chanting are not sins in baseball. They come with the territory.

Reports out of Anaheim this week said boos were aimed at the home team in the Big A opener loss to Oakland.

My first reaction: Did Katie call stadium security?

Not to pick on Mrs. Hamilton, but she put herself in the middle of what became our “Josh Situation” last weekend, and she is pretty much directly involved in a lingering injustice when it comes to an indictment of local fandom.

Even as the Texas Rangers closed out the first homestand Wednesday, the weekend’s rousing reception of Josh’s return to Arlington was still drawing this type of headline in a down-the-road local newspaper:

“Did Rangers’ Fans Go too Far?”

Hold on here. What is too far?

And exactly what is supposed to be the indictment of Rangers fandom?

The most common ways to get yourself ejected from the local ballpark are: (1) going on to the field; (2) throwing something at someone on the field; (3) fighting; (4) being over-served; (5) excessive profanity.

Booing the heck out of Josh Hamilton is not a baseball sin. Holding up Josh-related signs, as long as there is no profanity, is not a baseball sin. Chanting “stuff” at Hamilton, even personal stuff, is not a baseball sin and, by the way, Josh told us repeatedly during his five years with the Rangers that he was called “crackhead” at every ballpark, and, in a surprise, more so in Toronto than even Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.

Rangers fans were guilty last weekend.

Yes, guilty.

They were guilty of being Rangers fans.

Josh Hamilton is the problem. Not Rangers fans.

Now that he’s left us, left us because management didn’t put a ring on it (right, Katie?), Josh has been unable to decide how he wants to be perceived while wearing an Angels uniform in his ongoing returns to Arlington, which will be three times a season for at least the next five years.

Hamilton was totally confused last weekend.

Did he want to be victim, or did he want to be villain? Did he want to embrace the fans in a godly hug, or did he want to sharp-stick the fans?

The problem for Josh was he attempted to be all of the above in those three days.

And fans do what fans do when they observe fraudulent behavior.

They cut loose on him.

Back in late February as spring training was opening in Arizona, Hamilton was stupid enough — although he called it just “Josh being honest as Josh always is” — to insult the local fans with the “football town” comments to Gina Miller on CBS11.

Josh asked for everything he got last weekend. The boos were going to come anyway, but the sports hate erupted because Hamilton decided to verbally jab the same fans who had been overly supportive of him for so long.

What Josh told Gina in that interview was an attempt by Hamilton to localize the boos he knew were coming in April to a segment of football fans. In other words, real Rangers fans wouldn’t boo him, only stupid Cowboys fans.

But as we know from the last five years, Hamilton is at his very worst when he attempts to think and rationalize.

See ball. Hit ball.

Don’t think about ball, or anything else, particularly if you are Josh.

But, admittedly, there was an indictment of Rangers fandom, fair or not, going back to the season opener last Friday that put an ugly smudge on the weekend.

A few innings into that game, Katie called for help from ballpark security, where her and Josh’s four young daughters were sitting in the Angels’ family section in the lower bowl above the visiting team’s third-base dugout.

Katie has not commented on the issue. Josh pointed it out to the media the next day. Katie needed security for what Josh called harassment from fans.

That led to national headlines that read: “Hamilton’s family harassed by Rangers fans.”

If true, there is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior.

But was it true?

I heard from local fans seated near the Hamilton family that they never heard a foul word directed at Katie, and that what Katie actually heard was the massive booing, and “Baseball Town” chants from that area. “Crackhead” chants seemed to be confined mostly to the bleachers, although not entirely.

Because Josh waited far too long to ask for a suite for his family for the opener (when the Angels did ask, the suites had been sold out for weeks), she and the children had to sit in the stands. If you were Josh’s family, it was not a pleasant place to be last Friday.

But as soon as the Hamilton family entered the park, the Rangers stationed an Arlington police officer and two ballpark security members near the Angels’ family section. According to the security reports, at no time did any of the three see or hear anything involving rude behavior or profanity directed at the family.

But when Katie called for more security, the team sent two more security members to the area, plus the Rangers’ security chief and a security person from MLB.

That made seven security members watching over the Hamiltons, and none of them reported any harassment aimed at the family.

So what exactly did Katie hear or see? Boos? Signs? Chants?

Sorry, Katie, but any of that comes with the territory.

Nationally, however, people are still writing and saying Hamilton’s family was harassed by Rangers fandom.

Based on everything we now know, that’s simply not true.

And it’s a total injustice to Rangers fans who were being Rangers’ fans last weekend.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

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