Josh Hamilton: Rangers fans spoiled
"There are true baseball fans in Texas, but it's not a true baseball town," said Hamilton, who while with the Rangers was booed during the AL wild-card loss to Baltimore at the end of last season.
Hamilton, who signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels this offseason, said that Dallas has "always been a football town."
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"They're supportive," Hamilton said about the fans, "but they also got a little spoiled at the same time pretty quickly."
Hamilton added: "You think about three to four years ago (before two straight World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011). It's like, come on man, are you happier there again?"
Rangers manager Ron Washington didn't want to say too much about Hamilton's comments.
"I'm not answering anything that Josh said," Washington said. "That's Josh. Josh is an Angel. That's Josh's opinion. My opinion is there were 3.5 million fans that came through the turnstiles. That answers it right there."
Hamilton's 2012 season ended in disappointing fashion, mirroring the Rangers' collapse. The club had a six-game lead over the Oakland A's in the AL West with nine games to play and couldn't hold it.
He dropped what appeared to be a routine fly ball in center field in a tie game in the final game of the season, won by the A's to claim the division. And he was 0-for-4 and saw a total of eight pitches in the AL wild-card loss to Baltimore. Some fans booed Hamilton after he struck out in his final at-bat.
He was asked in the interview what the reaction for Rangers' fans might be when he comes to the plate for the first time in Arlington wearing an Angels uniform on April 5.
"It will be mixed feelings from the crowd," Hamilton said. "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."
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Hamilton talked to a few members of the media after Monday's workouts and didn't back off his comments. He listed New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia as "baseball towns." He added that when he said the fans were "spoiled," he meant by the team, not by him individually.
"Everything I talk about is team, man," Hamilton said, according to an MLB.com report. "It's not saying I don't still appreciate them, and thank you for cheering for me and all that. But reality's reality. I think I've always spoken the truth in what I said and not beat around the bush. But I loved my time there."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, speaking at Cactus League media day in Phoenix on Monday afternoon, said he hadn't seen the comments.
"The support, just from a team going in on the road, seemed like it was incredible," Scoiscia said. "But Josh lived it every day and I'm sure he's come to some conclusions from his perspective. I can only comment on it from a visiting team coming in and the environment the last couple of years has changed dramatically."
Rangers outfielder David Murphy wasn't quite sure what it means to be a "good baseball town," but he's thankful for the fans in Texas.
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He said Hamilton is entitled to his opinion, but Murphy is pleased with how the fan base has reacted to the club's success the past three seasons.
"We've had an absolutely electric environment to where I think visiting teams coming to play us in Arlington probably view it as hostile a place as there is in baseball and that definitely plays to our advantage," Murphy said. "I definitely (like) the way that the fans have come out and supported us. The last few summers have been extremely hot. It's going to be tough for me to come watch a baseball game when it's 110 degrees out or 105 degrees out. I really appreciate the way they've supported us, especially through all the heat."
Murphy said he hadn't seen Hamilton's comments until they were brought up to him by a few reporters in the clubhouse after workouts.
"Everybody's got their own opinion," Murphy said. "I'm appreciative of the support we get on a daily basis."