As luck would have it Tuesday, the Texas Rangers, fresh off being wished utter failure in 2014 by their friend and former teammate, headed to Tempe, Ariz., for a Cactus League game against another friend and former teammate.
Two, actually, but only Josh Hamilton voiced an on-the-record opinion about what might be facing Ian Kinsler upon his first visit to Arlington in an opposing uniform.
C.J. Wilson, apparently, was too busy negotiating a truce between Russia and Ukraine when the Los Angeles Angels beat guys rightfully asked Hamilton, Public Enemy No. 1 at Globe Life Park, his thoughts on Kinsler’s harsh comments about their old club and general manager.
The second baseman, now in Detroit after a November trade for first baseman Prince Fielder, was quoted in an ESPN The Magazine story as calling Rangers GM Jon Daniels a “sleazeball” and wishing that the Rangers go 0-162 this season.
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Kinsler told Tigers reporters that he looks childish in the story, which he said he didn’t like, and claimed that his juicy quotes were taken out of context. The 0-162 thing was a joke that he has said to his ex-teammates’ faces, but he didn’t back away from the sleazeball quote with quite the same vigor.
Hamilton, who knows plenty about saying regrettable things, hopped off the training table to say that he won’t be the “only villain in Texas anymore” and then tweeted, “Not any fun being in the Texas doghouse, is it @IKinsler3?”
Maybe Hamilton was just trying to repay Kinsler after dragging him into a second known public relapse with alcohol before the 2012 season. Maybe he was just looking to get back in the news for something other than being injured or underperforming.
No matter his motivation, he was wrong, of course, on several levels.
Hamilton has always had trouble hitting the mute button, much more trouble than Kinsler. And that’s not the only glaring difference between the two.
Hamilton left the Rangers under his own volition as a free agent two years after winning the MVP, taking a five-year, $125 million contract from the Angels without giving the Rangers so much as heads-up or the chance to counter, as he said would be the case.
He then went to Disneyland and rubbed the Rangers’ noses in it with ample help from his camera-loving wife. Katie Hamilton said the Rangers didn’t make her hubby feel wanted, failing to put a “ring on it” to show their commitment.
That spring, Josh created another stir by saying that the Metroplex wasn’t a baseball town. Oh, boy.
As the Rangers opened their home schedule against the Angels, fans colorfully let him hear about it all. Then he whined about it, which only kept the boos and over-the-top cheap shots coming.
And now he thinks Kinsler is going to absorb some of that?
Kinsler won’t even be No. 2 on the most hated list. He might not be in the Top 5 after his former Rangers teammates talked about how much they still love him and respect him for the way he played alongside them.
There was never that same level of support for Hamilton or Wilson, who also left the Rangers under his own power via free agency and who also badly needs a full-time censor.
The Ceej will always be in the Top 2 on the despised list. Hamilton will enter 2014 at No. 1, and some overserved fans will wave a certain finger reminding him.
Kinsler is now more likely to be booed June 24-26 during the Tigers’ only trip to the Globe after this public slap of the Rangers. He was facing loud cheers and probably a standing ovation or two.
Kinsler was, as manager Ron Washington has said, the Rangers’ catalyst during their two World Series runs. One of the gutsiest plays in franchise history was his ninth-inning steal of second base, beating the throw of all-world catcher Yadier Molina and later scoring the tying run of an eventual 2-1 victory in Game 2 of the 2011 World Series.
In 2009, Kinsler told the Angels to get the, um, heck off the Rangers’ field after a May sweep of the reigning division champs. He played hard for the Rangers and became a two-time 30-30 man and three-time All-Star for them.
But it didn’t end well for Kinsler, who twice signed contracts that kept him from hitting the free-agent market. He didn’t want to leave the Rangers and his Dallas home despite the deteriorating clubhouse chemistry he sensed and a deteriorating relationship with the same front-office members who made him a multimillionaire.
Kinsler, coming off a subpar 2012 season, was asked by Daniels to move to first base before last season to make room for Jurickson Profar but passed. He said in the ESPN story that he didn’t like being a clubhouse leader or showing younger players the ropes.
That quickly rubbed some the wrong way Tuesday — though it likely wasn’t news to those who decided to deal him — and Kinsler realizes that he would have been much better served keeping all of his thoughts to himself.
He didn’t, and many fans won’t forget it or buy into the ol’ standby “out-of-context” excuse.
But they will never despise Kinsler at the same level they do Hamilton, no matter what Hamilton says, tweets or believes.