The Texas Rangers began the week by playing the Toronto Blue Jays. Both the Rangers and Jays are rebuilding since their 2015 and 2016 clashes in which the Rangers were humiliated and cast off into mediocrity.
Game 1 – Ariel Jurado and Adrian Sampson were shelled into oblivion and the Rangers lost the opener in humiliating fashion. Calhoun, Mazara, and Odor all had an RBI. Jurado and Sampson looked like the arms of the future earlier this year. Now they look like clueless AAA pitchers. This game was such a one-sided laughing stock Jeff Mathis pitched the final inning. Rangers reenact the 2016 ALDS in this disgraceful loss. Loss 19-4.
Game 2 – The pathetic Rangers offense was shutout in another loss. Danny Santana had two hits. Lynn was decent in this start, but it did not matter. Loss 3-0.
Game 3 – Kolby Allard was average in this start. He failed to turn in a quality start, but the Rangers won anyway due to Elvis Andrus’ 4 hits. Odor went 0-5. Jose Trevino did too. Danny Santana had 3 RBI.Win 7-3.
The next series the Rangers faced off against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are a real playoff team, and swept the Rangers. Rather than pedantically detail the Twins’ humiliation of the Rangers in a 4 game sweep, I will focus on Saturday’s events. Saturday Josh Hamilton was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. Hamilton was the first overall pick of the 1999 MLB draft. He got in a severe car crash with his parents as he was climbing the ladder with the pathetic Devil Rays, and eventually spiraled into cocaine addiction. Hamilton wrote a book about this and did not pull any punches. The book is entitled Beyond Belief and is a candid look into the horrors of drug use. Hamilton is very honest about how he got hooked on drugs, and exceptionally transparent. The worst part of the book is when it ends in 2008 and the reader is left in agonizing suspension and emptiness because the triumph of the back to back pennants are not included. Hamilton was God tier when he played for the Rangers. In 2008 he led the AL in RBI. In 2010 he turned in one of the best seasons ever. It is my favorite season ever by a single player, ranking right up their with Vita Blue’s 1971 masterpiece. Hamilton played exceptional defense, won a batting title, hitting .359. He smashed 32 homers and 100 RBI. He locked in the MVP that season. He led the Rangers to the playoffs and realized the potential the Rays saw in him during the 1999 draft.
Hamilton fit in perfectly in the south. He wore his heart on his sleeve and spoke frequently about his faith in Jesus Christ. This never changed, as Hamilton read passages from the bible in his Hall of Fame induction speech. Hamilton’s honest demeanor was both endearing and inspiring to many fans. During his speech, he jokingly pointed out that he followed God’s word, and signing with the Angels was not one of those times. One can hope that Hamilton pens a second book, so we can hear the story of the prime of his career, as well as the Angels years.
Hamilton was exceptional in 2010 and 2011, and for the first half of 2012. The first half of 2012 he was on fire, netting a 4 homer game. The 4 homer game is more rare than a perfect game. Hamilton faltered down the stretch, and choked massively against the hated A’s in the last game of the season. The Rangers entered Oakland needing to win only one game of three to clinch the division. The Rangers choked and lost all 3 games, throwing them in a best of one wild card game. The Rangers lost that game to the Orioles and the peak of the franchise died. Hamilton went to the Angels that offseason and was ultimately a huge disappointment.
Hamilton in his prime was one of the best players ever. Because of injuries and drug use fans saw about 20% as much of this player as they should have. But when he was healthy, Josh was exceptional. The Carolina Kid could not be matched when he was on his game. He even had a go-ahead homer in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. This game is similar to the Game 6 2003 NLCS for Cubs fans. It is an agonizing game that stings badly to watch. Even the most cynical Rangers fans found themselves believing in that moment. Hamilton came through, the bullpen did not. Tony La Russa outmanaged Ron Washington to end an era, and that was that.
Josh Hamilton’s Rangers career played out in a similar way to Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z during the Majin Buu Arc. In the show, Vegeta, the antihero, gives everything in one final sacrifice. The antagonist survives the all-in attack, like the Lance Berkman and the Cardinals, and the inspiring last ditch effort of the beloved tragic hero is all for not. Hamilton gave everything in that moment. He should have been the hero. He should have gotten redemption for all those wasted years snorting blow. He should have brought the first title to Texas. But he did not. In the end, he was exceptional, but the happy ending was never achieved. The viewer was left with a sour taste in their mouth. There was no happy ending. There was no just conclusion. Hamilton never won a ring despite being a world class talent. Rangers fans were left with an empty feeling that was a stern reminder sports is not a movie. The feeling still plagues Rangers fans until this day.
Josh Hamilton was untouchable in his prime, and he deserves to be in the Rangers Hall of Fame. However, people that saw him play during that time are aware of the extreme sorrow still associated with those teams. Hamilton will go down as a Rangers legend, but like the 2010 and 2011 teams, a sense of longing will always be associated with both Josh and those legendary teams.