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Josh Hamilton: expecting boos in his return to Texas, will certainly get them

Apr 5, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Josh Hamilton

UPDATE: Hamilton came up to boos, but nothing incredible. Then Hamilton struck out on four pitches and the crowd exploded with cheers, way louder than the boos.  I assume that this drama is over.  That is, unless Hamilton himself adds to it.  Which it seems like he’s doing. Here’s what he had to say after the game:

“I’m glad I could help create spirit and fire in this town. This was louder than any playoff game that I’ve ever been to.”

This is getting good.

12:30 PM: If there is anyone who doesn’t think that Josh Hamilton is going to be booed — and booed lustily — when he comes to bat in today’s Angles-Rangers game they’re crazy. It may be the most ferocious booing we’ve heard for a player since Barry Bonds retired. Or since J.D. Drew made his first trip to Philadelphia. What we have here is the perfect storm of booing: a fan base that hates the player and a player who doesn’t seem to care a lick about that.  It’s actually kinda glorious if you think about it. The closest baseball will ever come to professional wrestling.

For those unaware of the back story, Josh Hamilton spent five season playing for the Texas Rangers. In those five season he played in 647 games, hit 142 home runs, drove in 506 and posted a batting average of .305. He also collected an MVP award and was the best hitter on a Rangers team which made it to two straight World Series. Then, this offseason, he hit free agency and signed with the division rival Los Angeles Angels for five years and $125 million.

That was business, though. Lots of players have left the Rangers via free agency and have not drawn the ire of fans. Indeed, given his age, injury history, his history with substance and his reported contract demands, most folks didn’t think Hamilton would stay in Texas anyway. The front office certainly didn’t make a push to keep him.  Between that and all of the good times he brought to Rangers fans, you’d think there would be enough to sustain at least some affection between Hamilton and the fan base despite his now playing for a rival. But no, there’s none.

The love affair was clearly over before Hamilton left town, actually. Rangers fans began booing Hamilton late last year as he struggled mightily down the stretch. A stretch in which the Rangers blew a five game division lead with nine games left to play. In the final, division-losing game to the Athletics, Hamilton dropped a routine fly ball which contributed to the collapse. Including the Rangers’ wild card loss to the Orioles, Hamilton struck out 20 times in his last 46 at-bats. Four strikeouts came in the wild card game. Warranted or not, Rangers fans equated Hamilton’s poor play with a poor attitude and believe Hamilton quit on his team.

That alone would likely lead to boos upon his return today, but he really set everyone off back in February when he told a Dallas radio station that Dallas was not a baseball town:

“Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town. They’re supportive, but they also got a little spoiled at the same time, pretty quickly. You think about three to four years ago. It’s like, come on man, are you happier there again?”

Thing is, Hamilton is probably right about that. The Cowboys will always be king in Dallas and Rangers fans, like a lot of fans of teams who experience sustained success, probably have gotten a bit spoiled. But being technically right and saying the right thing are not the same thing, and the blowback Hamilton has received since making those statements has been pretty significant.  But Hamilton is not backing down either. Indeed, just this morning he said this to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:

“The truth is the truth. And that was the truth. I don’t regret anything I said … If they booed me when I played there why wouldn’t they boo me now?”

They will boo him now. With extreme gusto.  And, while it may be a bit uncomfortable for Hamilton, it’ll definitely add spice to an Angels-Rangers rivalry that is already a whole heck of a lot of fun.

  1. UgglasForearms - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I’d kind of like to see him hammer one over the fence today, just to see the crowd’s reaction to that.

    • indaburg - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      • UgglasForearms - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        ‘Burg vote in my poll please.

      • indaburg - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Done! :-)

      • UgglasForearms - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:10 PM

        Thank you.

  2. jwayne03 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    come on craig….. an article about boos?

    • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      Booo!!!!

      /throws peanut shells

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        Done. But it’s still chumpish!

    • jarathen - Apr 5, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      I was saying Boo-urns.

  3. El Bravo - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    My only regret is I’m at work and unable to watch :(

    • youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      Time to raise your game…I’ll be listening via mlb.tv on my iPhone.

      • El Bravo - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        I nixed mlb.tv this year after two years…sad I know, but I have MLBN now. I also have free extra inning package for the week. Thanks DirecTV! Too bad I’m not home to check it out.

  4. mybrunoblog - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Why boo? He’s batting .083 with a .267 obp. You would think Rangers fans would be thrilled.

    • youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      OK, DFW fans (as discussed yesterday) are not the strongest fan group in “sports IQ” in the area of MLB…BUT, even they are smart enough to know that the results of just 3 games (12-15 at bats) isn’t something you should EXPECT to continue nor does it define a trend. There will be booing, sir.

  5. themuddychicken - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    “For those unaware of the back story”

    Are there people like that left? I feel like he’s been written and talked about one or two times over the past few years.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      In my defense, this is being promoted to the main NBC page which doesn’t cater to baseball freaks like us. To extremely casual fans, this could be news.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        Well, then, you should’ve made the connection between this and baseball dying for them.

      • themuddychicken - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:27 AM

        This is true and a good point, I often forget such people exist. I tend to not associate myself with them.

        (I’m all for having a diverse social network where I can get many different viewpoints, but this is where I draw the line)

  6. paperlions - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    If they (North Texas/Dallas/FW fans) are spoiled, they aren’t the only ones. Hamilton seems very unappreciative, ungracious, and spoiled….not exactly an appropriate attitude for someone that has needed a hand from a lot of people just to stay sober and functioning. If a team has to hire a baby sitter for you, and good on the Texans for doing so, to help you stay clean, you probably shouldn’t be lobbing aspersions as people that spent the better part of 5 years cheering for you….and only started booing when you seemed to mail it in and publicly act like you just didn’t care….it wasn’t the struggles that people were booing, it was the “I don’t really give a shit” attitude they were booing.

    • paperlions - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      To continue, MY struggled last year….he wasn’t booed because you could always tell that he did give a shit and put forth all his effort.

      • Francisco (FC) - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        He also hit .300 in the stretch (September) there was little to boo about at that critical time.

      • pw38 - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM

        And I’d fully expect Young would get a standing ovation if they came here this year.

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        Yep, I imagine he would.

  7. Francisco (FC) - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Somewhere, Ty Cobb is smiling.

  8. pinkfloydprism - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Baseball fans are babies. Does anyone boo them for going and taking a new job with better pay?

  9. lewp - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    As a Rangers fan, i think i can speak for many fans here when we on one hand, want to wish the guy well, but on the other hand, are glad his start to this season hasn’t been so great. Craig hit the nail on the head, we think he quit on the team last year…couple that with him having an excuse for everything, i.e. quitting tobacco, can’t see the ball in the daytime etc, he’s gonna get booed here in about 30 minutes.

    • indaburg - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      In about 30 minutes or for about 30 minutes?

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        Yes.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        Every 30 minutes.

      • indaburg - Apr 5, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        That’s a lot of booing. Hamilton is helping to break up the booing by striking out twice.

  10. pitperc - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Meh. It wasn’t that bad. More of a mixed reaction than anything else.

    Much ado about nothing.

    • lewp - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      But he did strike out though…so yeah, that was a good thing.

  11. paperlions - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Mostly just a whole lot of cheering….for Strike 1, Strike 2, and especially for Strike 3.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      BTW, I am LOVING the mlb subscription. The first thing I do when I get home from work is turn it on…and I leave it up while cooking…and I do cardio with it on…and I grade papers with it on…and it drowns out the noise from my annoying actor neighbors…actually, I may not have been all that productive this week…

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2013 at 4:51 PM

        Yeah, it is pretty fantastic if you just like watching baseball.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        As opposed to…?

      • paperlions - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM

        People that suck (i.e. non-baseball fans or those that only watch their home team on TV).

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        Ok, well, I’m like overdosing at this point. I haven’t had this kind of baseball access in YEARS. It beats the hell out of having the gametrax up on the computer and flipping back and forth while doing stuff.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        Sooo…what was the outcome of the bonus question? How many students answered correctly?

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        I have a few tests left to grade but so far 4 got it — and one was a huge suck up and added that he personally thinks the Tigers are the best in the league. I don’t think I’ll give him the points since he was so obvious.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        You can’t NOT give him the points! If he answered correctly…he answered correctly.
        If the question was…name my favorite team/sport WITHOUT sucking up then sure.
        But that wasn’t the question.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        I hate suck ups.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:52 PM

        And what’s taking so long to grade the tests. If I didn’t know any better I would think you worked or the government. Ahem.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        Well, you see, boss, I just got this mlb subscription… :)

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        So do I. And those that lack so much confidence (or are so insecure) they routinely have to pat themselves on the back and/or tell you how they re-invented the wheel that particular day. I can’t stand it in the worse way! I have one employee who I routinely ask if he has knee problems. And when I am not asking him that I ask if his elbow hurts.
        You know…from patting himself on the back so much.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        But as my friend says: It’s a poor dog that don’t wag his own tail.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        I totally appreciate what you are saying. But if he answered correctly Philiac you have to give him the points. To do otherwise would be incredibly….chumpish.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM

        Bite me.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:03 PM

        Bull shit on the tail wagging. It would be one thing if the dude was routinely messing up…I was on his ass like second shirt…or he was new to this. He’s been doing it for 20 years and he is my highest paid employee (by about 3 dollars an hour!). I don’t need to know that you bent over to pick up a screw because someone’s tires could have been flattened. I don’t need to know that you cleaned out your truck. The shop is supposed to be clean. The parking lot is supposed to be void of screws, nails, etc… Your truck is supposed to be clean.
        What am I paying you for?

  12. rockthered1286 - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Are we sure he was’t expecting “booze” upon his return, and not “boos”? Wish people were waiting with booze for me when I was on the road…

  13. billymc75 - Apr 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    The boos were over shadowed by yhe throng of fand holding up newspapers in front of they’re faced, some paper had the words ” baseball town ” on them.

  14. rcali - Apr 5, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Hamilton has always been a socially awkward guy. He kinda doesn’t know how to say things the right way.

  15. nbjays - Apr 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Speaking of boos…. John Farrell and his Red Sox start a weekend series at Rogers Centre tonight, and I’m thinking he won’t be cheered lustily in his return to Toronto… just a hunch.

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