This isn't a Dear Josh Hamilton blog but it could be. These are the things I would tell Josh if I could sit down and talk to him.
I have been thinking about this all weekend. Josh Hamilton coming back to my Rangers. Josh said some dumb things when he left. Even before he left the perception from the fans was he quit on the team. Josh Hamilton has some fences to mend in Dallas-Ft. Worth.
Josh was a great player for 4 1/2 years here. He had the most successful years of his career in a Rangers uniform. He was beloved by fans. He was loved by me. He was my favorite Ranger.
I am a good fan. I try to see the best in players who wear the Rangers uniform. I defended CJ Wilson when 98% of Rangers Nation hated him and that was while he was with the team. I tried to support Lance Berkman even though I thought he was a jerkface. Turned out I was right but, it was the name on the front of the uniform not the name on the back. I didn't boo him. It killed me but I didn't. I have never booed a Rangers player until Josh Hamilton's last game in Texas. I was frustrated, the fans at the park were frustrated. Josh clearly didn't care or if he did, he did a good job of pretending like he didn't.
So we fast forward two years. Hamilton's world is collapsing. He has filed for divorce from his wife, Katie. He and the Angels have had a falling out over his self admitted drug relapse. He apparently wants to come home. He seemingly wants to play for Texas. He has some work to do.
First and foremost Josh needs to get his priorities straight. He needs to quit hiding behind his faith. He needs to stop making excuses for his bad decisions and take responsibility for his life, his addiction, and his baseball career. That is the Christian in me talking. I have a lot of faith too but Josh, at this point, comes off as a hypocrit of the worst Christian kind. I don't know what his personal struggles are beyond his substance abuse but he obviously has problems. We all do. I can't make excuses for my life and neither should he. He makes his own choices and nobody believes that God told him to go to California to get the big money contract and subject himself to the lure of the Hollywood life. I don't think that was God talking, it sounds more like Katie Hamilton. He made a dumb choice so say that.
I don't need an apology from Josh for calling DFW a bad baseball town. I don't care what he said. I chalk that up to him being butt hurt because the Rangers didn't go after him with the crazy money the Angels did. The truth is, this isn't a baseball town. It isn't a basketball town. It is not a hockey town. It isn't even a football town, Sorry Cowboys, it isn't. Dallas-Ft. Worth is a winners town. Aside from a few fans who support the individual teams come Hell or High Water, the town supports the team that is winning.
What I need to see from Josh is to see that he cares again or maybe for the first time ever. I need to see that he is going to give baseball 100% when he is on the field. I think he plays hard but he makes dumb choices. I need Josh to play smart. Baseball came easy for him, he says so in his book. Baseball probably came too easy. I don't feel like Josh Hamilton loves the game. I feel like Josh Hamilton plays because he is naturally skilled athletically and this is the game he knows. Alright, that is fair. He can make a ton of money playing a little boys sport but he also needs to respect the people in the stands who do not make a ton of money. He needs to play baseball the way the game should be played and I am not just talking about hitting homeruns and catching balls. I am talking about respecting the sport that has given him everything money can buy. I am talking about making the team he plays for and the fans who cheer him, and Rangers fans will cheer him again, a priority in his life. Josh Hamilton has become some kind of cartoon figure, spouting religion and talking in baseball circles. It is time for Josh Hamilton to stop hiding behind his faith and start taking the heat for himself. He can do that by simply saying he has screwed up publically and that he wants to get his act together....again.
I want to like Josh Hamilton again but more than that I want Josh Hamilton to like himself. I want him to be smarter. I want him to play smarter. I want him to make better choices in life. For himself, for his kids, and yes, there is a part of me that hopes he manages to patch up his marriage. Nobody can do it for him. Only Josh Hamilton can babysit Josh Hamilton. He does not need, nor should he get an accountability partner. It is time for Major League Baseball, the Texas Rangers, and everyone who is around Josh Hamilton to stop catering to his addiction, personal flaws, and private hell. It is time for Josh Hamilton to grow up and be the person God wants him to be and the player fans deserve. Any fans but especially Texas Rangers fans who stood by him when he fell more than once. It is time for Josh to be responsible for Josh.
So will I cheer for Josh? Yes, I will. Am I selling out? No, I am not. Did I want him back? Not really, but the deal the Rangers have made is too full of potential and too low on the risk side not to give it a shot. Am I going to dust of my now SHamilton t-shirt? Probably not. I will wear that to paint in but I can't take the S off and I am not sure I want to anyway. I prefer to forgive his stupidity when he left in attacking the fans and never forget. Am I going to run out and buy a new Hamilton shirt. Nope. Been there, done that. Do I want Josh Hamilton to be happy? Sure, I want
everyone almost everyone to be happy. Do I want him to positively effect the Rangers? Heck yes, this team is floundering with low batting averages and bad pitching. Do I expect a lot from Josh Hamilton? Not really.
In the end, I am a good fan and I will be there to cheer but cheering a player and trusting them are two very different things. Josh Hamilton lost the fans trust a long time ago and he has some fences to fix before he should even think about getting that back.
And that is what I would tell Josh Hamilton, if I could.