Thursday, December 13, 2012

Goodbye, Mr. Hamilton

By Dan | @dgood73

Goodbye, Josh Hamilton.

According to reports, Hambone has agreed to a five-year, $125 million contract ... with the ANGELS.

The freakin' Angels, the Rangers' biggest rival.

He joins a team full of other hate-able players: Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, C.J. Wilson, Chris Ianetta, Scott Downs, Mark Zuckerberg ... OK, I really don't mind Downs or Ianetta, and the Facebook guy isn't with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but you get the idea.

The move marks the end of Josh's five-year tear with the Rangers - representing the franchise's finest years and Hamilton's redemption following years of substance abuse issues. Josh's story is being considered for a movie. Casey Affleck, Ben's brother, is involved. That seemed like a great idea until the past season.

Josh was stellar in 2012 - parts of it, anyway. He smashed 43 home runs. He hit four bombs in a game. I watched him slug a 473-foot jack into the Fenway Park bleachers in April, the kind of ball that's seemingly still traveling.

And then? Wasted at-bats. Lingering effects from his efforts to quit tobacco. Another relapse during the off-season. A caffeine-induced affliction called ocular keratosis. Lollygagging in the outfield during the season's most vital inning.

Following his dropped fly ball against the A's during the season's final week, I supported the fans booing him and acknowledged that it was time for him to go.

But the Angels?!?

This one hurts - real, real bad.

In the end, despite all of the issues, I'm thankful that Hamilton played for the Rangers. It's been enjoyable collecting his Rangers cards - especially the 1/1 All-Star workout jersey letter patch I pulled in 2012 Topps.

He provided some incredible highlights for Rangers fans. That home run derby clinic he hosted in 2008 was magic.

The Ginger Ale playoff showers - developed due to Hamilton's lingering alcohol addiction - were sticky sweet.

The four-homer game against Baltimore was serene and pure, a world-class slugger completely in the zone.

My favorite Hamilton home run came on a crisp autumn night - Game Six, 2011 World Series.

Hamilton was plagued by a sports hernia that entire postseason, but he kept swinging. Despite his sapped power, he remained a threat.

He came up in the 10th inning, the Rangers one win away from clinching the team's first championship.

Tie game.

That beautiful swing chopped through the ball, sending it skyward. Manager Ron Washington raised his arms. Elvis Andrus danced, Nolan Ryan clapped, Rangers fans erupted and Josh Hamilton rounded the bases, the clutchest moment in team history, the World Series title within reach, if not for some guys in red who thought otherwise.

If only time could freeze right there, right at that perfect moment ... but that's not how these things work.

So goodbye, Mr. Hamilton. It's been a journey.

No comments:

Post a Comment