Writing about painful things is never fun.
It can be useful catharsis, of course; but the last couple of years for the Texas Rangers didn’t feel like necessary dues-paying or “part of the process”…my impression was that the Rangers zigged when they should have zagged. They took the wrong turn at Albuquerque. They missed the last plane to Lisbon. And so on. That is to say, I felt they wound up where they were by making some bad choices, not necessarily as the part of the normal decline of a good team.
And so, everything I tried to write was negative. I couldn’t focus on the positive, because I felt that half the problems were self-inflicted wounds. Covering things from that point of view just ends up starting fights; fights I really wasn’t interested in. And then going into this season, as I saw the Rangers revamp their pitching program from the ground up, and saw real results from changing batting coaches and instruction, and saw Texas finally embrace technology and advanced analysis, I saw real reason for hope.
Ironically, this time a large percentage of the fanbase wasn’t engaged in optimism. A lot of people still think that the Rangers will never win again without a Front Office tear-down. Or specifically, without a Jon Daniels tear-down, as the entire rest of the Front Office is new at this point.
But I’M optimistic, dammit, and I’m writing this, and what we need now is a sign from the baseball gods that everything is gonna be alright.
Yesterday, Josh Hamilton suddenly showed up in Central Texas. Sober, clean, melancholic? Yes. And being a father to his softball playing girls.
He’s back because it’s time…or rather enough time has passed.
His knees feel fine, but he wants to be with his girls.
He could still DH. Dear Lord, we all KNOW he could still DH. And he knows it. But he wants to be with his girls.
He misses playing baseball. He never watched it much, but finds himself watching games sometimes. While he’s taking care of his girls.
He misses being that Josh Hamilton, and he knows that WE miss him being that Josh Hamilton.
But he wants to take care of his girls.
Stay clean. Stay sober. Take care of his girls. Take care of himself. Be a contributing member of the community. That’s his mantra.
On August 17th, he’ll be back at Globe Life Park/The Ballpark in Arlington, a place he helped make important every bit as much as Nolan Ryan, Rafael Palmeiro, and Adrian Beltre. And Yu Darvish, Elvis Andrus, Joey Gallo, and all your favorite Rangers. Josh Hamilton will become a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame, an award he surely deserves…one of the greatest Rangers to ever play the game.
He's back now because maybe it’s just time. Time to be a part of the game again? I guess we’ll see. Time to be honored by his peers, certainly. Time to be loved by his fans again; pretty sure that’s gonna happen. Time because the Rangers, for the first time since Hamilton left after the 2012 season, have another Josh Hamilton in Center Field.
Time because the Rangers are alright, now. And Josh is alright, now.
May the baseball gods smile on both.