In keeping with the spirit of the approaching Christmas season, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno presented free agent Josh Hamilton with a five-year, $125 million contract in December 2012.
Two years, two less-than-MVP baseball seasons, one divorce filing, several dozen insinuations of breach of contract and one arbitrator’s ruling later, the Angels want Hamilton to apologize.
Apologize for what, exactly?
I posed that question to the Texas Rangers’ Hamilton on Saturday before his latest rehab contest — he hit four singles and reached on an error for Double A Frisco — and he was more than ready with a response.
His lengthy, verbatim reply follows:
“Well, here’s the thing. I tried on multiple occasions, and I’ve told everybody this from MLB to Mike Scioscia, that even when I was there and playing in 2013 and wasn’t being the guy I was supposed to be, and in 2014 the same thing, I tried to reach out to the owner, Arte, and talk to him and tell him, ‘You know what, I’m working my butt off and I want to be the guy that played against you for all these years.’
“And I was always turned down by the general manager [Jerry Dipoto] and the team president [John Carpino]. They said they would let him know.
“The same thing happened after this incident, after the surgery. I talked to Jerry Dipoto, and I said, ‘Jerry, I’d love to talk to Arte and reassure him that things are OK,’ but I was turned down again.
“So to answer your question, I did what I needed to do to be a responsible man and employee and reach out to them and was always denied that opportunity.
“So my hands are clean.”
Answer me this, though, because I must have missed the memo:
Since when are major leaguers required to bend a knee and beg forgiveness for not meeting the expectations of a lofty contract?
When last I looked, Albert Pujols — whom Moreno signed for 10 years and $240 million — was averaging 57 points lower in batting average, 235 points lower in OPS and hitting 20 fewer home runs per season than he did in St. Louis. Where’s his mea culpa for owner Arte?
On the day that Hamilton was traded back to the Rangers, Angels manager Scioscia expressed his disappointment, saying that Hamilton didn’t show any “accountability ... to his teammates.”
“I know he got a lot of support from the guys in that clubhouse,” Scioscia said. “For him not to show at least a little remorse toward his teammates, I just think is wrong.”
Oh, please. Scioscia wanted Hamilton gone — he certainly has the contract to demand such a move — and now he hides behind the “no remorse” charge to paint Josh as ungrateful?
Colorado Rockies announcer Jeff Huson, who played in Texas from 1990-93, picked up on the same empty whine earlier this week.
I don’t recall infielder Huson apologizing for only batting .235 with a miserable .621 OPS for four years with the Rangers. And what about those 49 errors?
Bad contracts abound in baseball. Sometimes, players change uniforms and they’re never the same. Think back to Mike Hampton, Barry Zito, Chan Ho Park.
After the trade, Hamilton was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “I have no clue what [Scioscia’s] talking about. [Moreno] knew what the deal was when he signed me.”
Judging from the ready response that Hamilton had to my question Saturday, he is not lying awake at night worrying about Arte Moreno. Hamilton already has plenty on his plate, with an impending divorce, a custody fight for his children and his now-imminent return to the major leagues.
Angels fans may not like his answer, but Hamilton’s hands are clean.
There’s no apologizing in baseball. But if a man wants to, at least let him try.