SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It was likely that, even without his comments to CBS 11's Gina Miller on Sunday, Josh Hamilton was going to hear more boos than cheers when he stepped to the plate for the first time wearing an Angels uniform on April 5.
After all, he's wearing the uniform of a rival and ended the season on a sour note. That alone means some fans won't cheer for him. But now that he's saying the Dallas-Fort Worth area isn't a baseball town? He should expect a cascade of boos on that Friday afternoon.
Hamilton said Sunday that "there are true baseball fans in Texas, but it’s not a true baseball town." I thought manager Ron Washington's point about how this club drew more than 3 million fans and had record attendance is proof that's just not true. Sure, it's a football town first and foremost, as Hamilton said. Everyone knows that. But that doesn't mean it's not a baseball town. Hamilton should know better.
He added that fans are spoiled after two World Series. Of course they are. When a club wins, expectations go up. Going to three straight World Series is extremely difficult. I think Dallas-Fort Worth area baseball fans understand that. But they certainly didn't expect a collapse and a quick exit from the postseason in the wild-card game. They showed that disappointment with some boos. That's what fans do. It shows how passionate they are about the team they root for and pay good money to see.
Hamilton did a lot for the Rangers while he was here -- both on and off the field. He won the AL MVP in 2010 and was the ALCS MVP as well. His story of attempting to overcome addictions is powerful and has helped a lot of people. But the same fan base that has cheered him also questioned whether he was fully focused on the task at hand down the stretch last season. He missed part of a critical road trip late in the season dealing with a vision issue that he said was cured by consuming less caffeine and energy drinks. He dropped a routine fly ball in Oakland on the final day of the season that turned a tie score into an A's lead they never relinquished.
That loss shouldn't be completely blamed on Hamilton. But the play certainly contributed. He was 0-for-4 and saw eight pitches in the AL wild-card game, striking out in his final at-bat to boos. For fans, that was an awful week for the club and Hamilton became the face of it. That's probably not fair, but that's the way it is when you're one of the most visible players on the team.
Hamilton thinks it will be "mixed feelings" from the crowd that opening weekend in Arlington. He added this: “People who really get it will cheer and the people who don’t will boo. Either way, I’ll do what I got to do to help my team win.”
Right or wrong, Hamilton should expect a lot of the folks that "don't get it" on that Friday.