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Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: February 19, 10:08 AM ET
Josh Hamilton remains oblivious

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton doesn't get it. He never will.

You can tell.

As great as he is on the baseball diamond, Hamilton can be clueless off it.

Hamilton, according to an interview with CBS' Gina Miller on Sunday night, thinks Texas Rangers fans booed him last season because Dallas-Fort Worth isn't a baseball town and the club had spoiled fans with its success.

Wrong.

Fans booed Hamilton, as they should have, because he quit on the team three times in the final three weeks of the season. Oh, the Hamilton apologists will dispute that because they remain drunk on his prodigious talent.

Fans will put up with a lot of behavior, but no fan wants to spend hard-earned money to watch a dude making millions give less than his best effort for whatever reason.

Football reigns in Texas, and the Dallas Cowboys own Dallas-Fort Worth. That's true.

But the Rangers drew 3.4 million fans in 2012, trailing only Philadelphia and the New York Yankees in attendance, so let's drop the nonsense about our community not being a baseball town.

Besides, it has nothing to do with the issue.

Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton couldn't catch what appeared to be a routine fly ball in Oakland with the AL West at stake.

Hamilton's crime wasn't poor performance; it's that he played as though he didn't care.

No more, no less.

Think about it. Michael Young stunk most of last season, but fans never booed him. They didn't boo Mike Napoli either, and he was disappointing much of the season.

The same goes for Ian Kinsler. Even Joe Nathan, awful in September as the Rangers were in the midst of one of the biggest collapses in MLB history, didn't get booed.

Why? They tried.

It's the reason Young will get a standing ovation whenever the Philadelphia Phillies make an appearance at Rangers Ballpark. And it's the reason fans will give Napoli, who signed with Boston in the offseason, the same treatment when the Red Sox make their first appearance in Arlington this season May 3-5.

Napoli will step out of the batter's box, tip his cap and soak it in, while the fans chant "Na-po-li," if only for a few seconds.

Guaranteed.

It's too bad Hamilton doesn't really understand why fans turned on one of the greatest players in franchise history.

We're talking about a player who hit .305 with 142 homers and 506 RBIs, while creating enough highlights to easily fill a two-hour DVD on his top 10 moments in a Rangers uniform.

Then he ruined his legacy by removing himself in the fourth inning of the first game of an important three-game series with the Angels. He missed the last two games of that series and the ensuing three-game series against Seattle, while he searched high and low for a doctor to come up with a diagnosis.

Eyedrops cured Hamilton's problem -- ocular keratitis apparently caused from consuming too many energy drinks -- but he missed five games. The Rangers went 3-3 on the trip.

In the last game of the season with the AL West at stake, he misplayed a routine ball in center field and lackadaisically jogged after it as a pair of runs scored to give Oakland a commanding lead.

The Athletics eventually won 12-5, rallying from five games behind in the standings with nine days left to win the division.

Still, the Rangers advanced to the wild-card play-in game at home against Baltimore.

Hamilton went 0-4, seeing eight pitches and accounting for five outs in a 5-1 loss.

The fans booed him lustily after his last at-bat, frustrated by the indifference of one of baseball's best players.

Fans still aren't over Hamilton. A segment will love him no matter what.

His compelling story of going from drug addict to AL MVP has inspired millions. No player had more All-Star votes last season than the enigmatic Hamilton.

But another group of fans has grown weary of his incessant excuses and the long stretches of indifferent play within a season. They couldn't stand being held hostage by Hamilton's prodigious talent.

Now, he belongs to the Angels.

They can savor the incredible highs and work through the incredible lows. All the while knowing Hamilton will remain oblivious to it all.