Tougher pill to swallow?
Mavs must have D-Will
This is a joke, right?
Hamilton is a bona fide superstar and an amazing story. They don't just roll out feature films about slap hitters, after all. But if he's gone after the season to make an untold fortune and save the world somewhere else, the Rangers will say "good luck" and survive. Heck, they're more than surviving at the moment with Hamilton mired in a bat-flinging, sub-.200 hitting slump for all of June.
Baseball is about the whole -- a run-producing lineup, a leak-free defense, a sturdy pitching rotation and a replenishing farm system. An ace on the hill would be far more valuable than the five-tool slugger, who slugged all of one home run last postseason.
Basketball is a game of five players, and the NBA is a league dominated by stars. Although the Mavs broke through to a title in 2011 by riding Dirk Nowitzki's massive shoulders, that doesn't change anything, which is why Dallas is desperate to get D-Will, the homegrown talent from The Colony, when free agency opens Sunday.
Williams turned 28 on Tuesday, so he's in the prime of his All-Star career. If he comes to Dallas, it immediately powers the Mavs with one of the truly elite point guards in the league and ratchets up that burgeoning rivalry with those boys to the north in OKC.
What signing Williams also does is open the free-agency door to another star down the road and to savvy veterans who want to sign on cheaply -- important with a pseudo hard cap taking effect in 2013-14 -- for the thrill of legitimately chasing a championship now, much like we're seeing in Miami. The Shane Battiers of the world will be busting down the door to get here.
Without D-Will? Oh my. Not only does hope of contending in Dirk's final seasons take a gut punch but so does team and fan morale. Does 38-year-old Steve Nash come back? Maybe, but that bit of nostalgia is a short-term plug. How does Goran Dragic, Andre Miller or Ramon Sessions sound?
Hey, nice players sure, but they're not franchise-changing ones like D-Will. The fact is that the Mavs weren't much better than a .500 team last season, and .500 is owner Mark Cuban's worst nightmare.
Williams offers instantaneous buzz and tangible title aspirations. No Williams, and the Mavs will turn to Plan B, C, D, etc., and frankly, what's the buzz about that?
Losing Hamilton would hurt
Don't be blinded by a slump. If Josh Hamilton is not a Texas Ranger next season, you will miss his presence. That word -- presence -- means a lot to manager Ron Washington. It should mean a lot to you.
Whether he is going well or not at the plate, Hamilton's mere presence in the lineup is a game-changer for the opposing team's strategy. Will they pitch to him? Will Elvis Andrus see more strikes? How many runners will be on base when Adrian Beltre gets into the batter's box? If Hamilton is not in the lineup, you will miss that presence -- and so will the Rangers.
Players talk about Hamilton's natural ability at the plate more than any other player. There is Hamilton's ability to see the ball deep in the strike zone, the thunderous sound of the ball hitting his bat squarely and the tape-measure home runs. (Remember the UTA physicist who measured the greatest distance!?)
Hamilton is tied for the American League lead in home runs, leads in runs batted in and is in the top 10 in batting average. His 3.5 WAR is fourth-best among major league outfielders behind Ryan Braun, Michael Bourn and Mike Trout.
In the field, Hamilton has incredible closing speed on deep fly balls. His arm strength makes baserunners and base coaches think twice about taking an extra bag.
On the bases, how many other players have you seen score from second base on a batted ball in the infield? Hamilton is a five-tool player, and this kind of player does not come along often.
He can be clutch too. He has the most game-winning RBIs in the AL over the past two seasons, and he has seven this year.
Yes, it's a team game, and there are many significant Rangers and numerous important roles. However, the focus here is on Hamilton, who will probably establish a new record for most votes among All-Stars. He is a fan favorite on and off the field.
If Hamilton is not a Ranger in 2013, you will miss his hitting, his fielding, his running -- his mere presence.