Mac Engel

Both brilliant, Hamilton did more in less time than Romo

It was not supposed to end this way for either but we have arrived at that point for Tony Romo and Josh Hamilton.

One is on his way out of our back yard while the other has just squeezed in one more invite, but the local legacies of Romo and Hamilton are essentially complete.

We are talking about two of the best and most entertaining jocks ever to play in DFW; when they were right, they were enthralling and entertaining winners.

Ironically, however, it was Josh who did more in his limited time than Romo was able to achieve in his. Both were inspirational in their own ways, at times equally maddening, but in the end Hamilton led the Rangers to consecutive World Series appearances and was a league MVP.

Romo has been here since 2004 and was a starter for 10 full seasons while Josh was a Ranger for a little more than five years. He didn’t play as long, but he was able to squeeze more in.

For all of Romo’s ability to make plays when there were none, and often singlehandedly win games that should have been losses, it never all came together for him here.

The lasting impression of his career here will not be for what he did on the field but rather how he conducted himself off it; Tony’s ability to grin and bear it this season when Dak Prescott took his job won over many fans who previously were frustrated by his play.

How he handled this last year cut the image of a sympathetic figure, and most of us are suckers for lonely-puppy stories, even the canines who were paid more than $100 million.

Neither Romo nor Josh played much in the past two years, and now both cling to the hope to throw one more pass or one more at-bat.

Since the start of 2014, Josh has appeared in 28 percent of his team’s games. Since the start of 2015, Romo has appeared in 16 percent of his team’s games.

When I asked Jerry Jones on his Tuesday appearance on 105.3 The Fan what they will do with Romo, the owner put on his salesman hat. Jerry said he envisions our No. 9 will one day play in a Super Bowl. He just didn’t say for which team.

There is no way the Cowboys do not belong to Dak. There is no way Romo will be OK being The Dakup. There is no chance the Cowboys will have a $20 million backup — Kyle Orton didn’t even get that much, even though it felt like it.

We do know Romo may yet appear in a Super Bowl, but that it will not be for the Cowboys; the only items left to decide about Romo is where he will go, and whether the Cowboys will be able to generate a draft pick or two in exchange for their former franchise quarterback.

Romo is 36 with a slew of injuries on his résumé, just like Josh, who will turn 36 in May.

Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Rangers on Tuesday, ostensibly to play first base — if he can make what looks to be a full roster out of spring training. At this point, the Rangers are simply taking a flyer on another aging vet.

Some of these, most notably Kenny Lofton, Eric Gagne, Vlad Guerrero, have worked. Others, like Manny Ramirez and Brandon Webb, have fizzled without popping.

No one doubts Josh’s bat, but his body just isn’t what it once was when he was the American League MVP in 2010.

Of the many decisions made by Rangers GM/president Jon Daniels, not keeping Hamilton after the 2011 season was the best of all. Hamilton famously was given a five-year, $125 million offer by the California Angels of Los Angeles, with the caveat that he had to sign it without taking the deal back to the Rangers.

Much to the disappointment of Daniels, and delight of team president Nolan Ryan, Josh took the cash. He has not been the same since. He was beset by injury in SoCal, suffered a drug relapse after the 2014 season, and was dumped by the Angels in the spring of ’15. The Angels preferred to eat the remainder of his deal than to actually deal with another chapter in the Story of Josh, which could be a volume set.

Since returning to his favorite “true baseball town,” Josh has appeared in 50 games and hit .253. He missed all of last season with a left knee injury, and has required three surgeries in a 10-month span.

He is now a ghost of what he was from 2008 to 2011 season, when he was a combination Mickey Mantle and the fictional Roy Hobbs.

My lasting memory of Josh is his two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series; he hit what should have been the World Series-winning home run despite a painful sports hernia.

Josh has one more long-shot chance to see if he can extend his career here. Romo will do so elsewhere.

They were brilliant, maddening, entertaining. Yet their legacies feel sadly incomplete, as much for us as it does for them.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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