Josh Hamilton and his big ego need to keep quiet.
A year and a half ago, Josh Hamilton had it all. He was the batting king of baseball, one of the most recognized names in the game and he had a position on a championship-contending team that had played in two World Series in a row. This is, of course, a far cry from his lowest of low points — nearly dying from drug use just a few years earlier.
Hamilton reached the pinnacle of his career as a Texas Ranger, but then he fell off the mountain last year. He was slugging home runs, winning big games and in the running for a league MVP award. And then he was striking out every at bat, letting past addictions get him into trouble and turning the clubhouse into a circus. He was on the cover of magazines and conquering All-Star weekend competitions. He had become the unquestionable face of the franchise. And then he was on and off the injured list, overindulging in energy drinks and making errors that single handedly led to the premature end of a promising season.
He once was showered with cheers and praised by fans. He exited to a chorus of boos.
Well, the boos in Texas aren’t going to stop anytime soon.
Earlier this week, the outfielder, who signed a $125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in December, bashed Texas Ranger fans, calling them “spoiled” and proclaiming that their city is not a “true baseball town.” Apparently, fan expectations were too high because of the two consecutive pennants they had been blessed with before last season ended in collapse. Also, by his logic, Dallas is not a baseball town because it only really cares about football. Well, as a fellow Dallasite, lifelong diehard Ranger fan and fan of sports in general, I’ve got something to say:
Shut up, Josh Hamilton.
Here’s a lesson for you and professional athletes everywhere. Don’t ever, ever call out the fans. Bashing, blasting, hating, accusing, finger pointing, name calling or any other objectionable gesturing toward the fan base from athletes is flat-out, unconditionally wrong (with the one major exception being cheering for players getting injured. Looking at you, Philly!)
From a PR standpoint, it doesn’t take a genius to know that. Athletes owe their popularity, and the popularity of the game, strictly to the fans. They’re the ones that make the athletes marketable and give them and their teams value. Indirectly, fans are the ones who sign the players’ paychecks. So yapping their mouth at the folks who make all of that possible is never a good idea.
But, for Hamilton, this is a whole different kind of low blow.
The slugger has always been one to speak candidly. Whether or not he’s being openly honest isn’t the question here. Sure, Dallas is more closely associated with the NFL’s Cowboys and yeah, Rangers fans were hoping for another World Series birth. In what universe is that bad? Isn’t that what every fan wants for their team? But that has nothing to do with the problem I have with his statements. The problem is with who's saying them.
This is a guy who at one time had a loyal following from Rangers and MLB fans all around. What was there not to like? Here was someone overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds of drug and alcohol abuse by not only recovering but also resurrecting a career and playing at a superstar level, which he credited to God and his wife. For me, I don’t think I could have admired him more. He was a hero.
Then it all fell apart. Now here he is, after turning his back on the team, once again proving his enormous self-righteous ego is too much to handle on his own.
Saying Rangers fans are "spoiled" is a ridiculous claim, especially about a fan base that flocked to see him play and about an organization that gave him an opportunity despite his past troubles. Of course, fans expected championship contention, not because of the past two years but because of where they were before he ruined it. The team was sitting pretty with high hopes of another run at the Fall Classic before he became a cancer in the clubhouse. And then, even after three months of awfulness from Hamilton, Texas still had a chance to win the division, and he alone flubbed it by botching a routine fly ball that would’ve sealed the deal.
Rangers fans place most of the blame on Hamilton for the team’s collapse. That’s why the reaction to his sour words has been so heated. Any sports figure is going to have issues with his ego, but this is cruel, sickening and foolish. It makes him look not only like a bad person, but also like a dumb one.
So stick a cork in it, Josh. You’ve got no room to talk. As for me, I’m already working on getting tickets for his return to Texas, where he’ll be subject to the merciless crowd 10 times this year. We’ll see how much of a “baseball town” Dallas is when his Angels pay a visit in April.