.210/.272/.594, 5 homeruns, 85 games, $9 million, one major headache.
.215/.329/.775, 4 homeruns, 20 games, $507 thousand, one major league oufielder.
Line one is 2016 Houston Astros version of Carlos Gomez. Line two is 2016 Texas Rangers version of Carlos Gomez.
What a difference a clubhouse makes.
Gomez was an All Star in 2013 and 2014. Gold Glove in 2013. Top 5 fantasy outfielder in 2014.
The Astros happened.
Sometimes people just need a change of scenery (See Davis, Chris and hopefully NOT Gallo, Joey). Sometimes people need to re-evaluate their game (See Puig, Yasiel). Sometimes, people just need support, comfort, and strong leadership (See Hamilton, Josh). Sometimes people just need to be reminded that despite all of the glory and drama that surrounds baseball, in the end, it is just a game.
It feels like Gomez falls strongly into that last category.
By no means is Carlos Gomez the player that he was 2012-2014, and at the age of 30, it would be unfair to think that he would ever be that again. However, Carlos is aiming to make sure that his new teammates and the Rangers’ faithful immediately know that he is not the shell of a player that appeared in Houston either.
Does Gomez’s time in Houston suck for that franchise? Absolutely. Do I understand why the fan base is upset with him? Without a doubt (however, I do not understand the awful racist things that were apparently being yelled at him from the outfield bleachers at Minute Maid or the person who thought they should interject into the game by throwing a lime, then later a baseball, at him).
I will clearly and openly say that, of course, I have never stepped foot into the Astros dugout and have never experienced their clubhouse firsthand, but it is readily apparent how different the two Texas teams are in their approach to the game.
On one side of the state, you have a team with clear leaders who have more fun than any other tandem in the game, but who still step up when it’s time to face adversity, who know when to embrace the younger players and when to scold them, and who play the game in a fashion that has their teammates working hard to avoid disappointing them.
On the other side is a clubhouse that often finds themselves in some form of turmoil, with infighting and disparaging quotes, a player negotiating process that is called “dehumanizing”, blocked trades, veterans criticizing rookie contracts, starting pitchers arguing with the manager and starting dugout dustups, and a general manager who, according to the player’s association via Yahoo Sports “wants to set baseball back 50 years”.
As a player, which side of the state would you choose? Which clubhouse? Which culture?
The answer seems obvious.
While it drives many old school fans absolutely insane, the fun aura that surrounds this Texas Rangers team starts with the antics of Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus and trickles down throughout the organization, providing each player with not only a good time on the baseball field, but also role models for achievement, and someone that they never want to let down. Add that in with Jeff Banister’s “never ever quit” mantra, and you can quickly see why a player seeking a baseball rebirth is blessed to put on a Texas Rangers uniform.
Just ask Ian Desmond.
Or AJ Griffin.
Or even better; ask either Delino DeShields or Carlos Gomez about the culture change they experienced by moving worlds away in just a 250 mile trip.
Carlos has quickly gone from a reclamation project after being pulled from a scrap heap to the man who sets the table for the Texas lineup, batting leadoff and rediscovering himself as a confident, and more importantly, happy player.
“When you have people that believe in you and give you the opportunity and look at you like you’re going to have a good game ... there’s good chemistry in this clubhouse and I’m really happy,” Gomez told Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (by the way, if you do not follow Stefan during Rangers’ games, you are missing out. Solid insight with a bit of humor @StevensonFWST).
The man is happy. Baseball is fun again. Gomez said in a post-game interview earlier this week about how amazing it is to play on a team where every player arrives at the clubhouse at noon every day, three hours prior to the required time, because they have so much fun together and love the game.
Here is the thing that I have come to realize about baseball, and it seems as if Carlos might be reaching this point as well; no matter at what point you are in the game, as a professional, as an amateur, as a student, as a coach, as a member of the media, or as a fan, it is still just a game.
Baseball is meant to be fun, and without that fun, it becomes meaningless, it becomes a job, it becomes a nuisance, it becomes something that we get so worked up over, arguing with each other, being mad online, pulling out our hair and yelling at those who are playing it or those who disagree with our thoughts about it.
In all reality, it’s not that serious.
Baseball is fun.
The 2016 Texas Rangers are fun.
Carlos Gomez has realized this and the quality of his baseball life has increased exponentially. Maybe it’s time many of us do the same.