As the Rangers prepare to take on the Yankees Sunday night, they do so knowing their old friend Josh Hamilton is just a day away from returning.
The long awaited 2015 debut of the notoriously talented and notoriously troubled Josh Hamilton will be Monday night. Too bad it isn’t later tonight as the Rangers take on the Yankees in New York.
The offseason was already a struggle for Hamilton as he battled a shoulder injury and trying to get ready for Opening Day 2015. It was all downhill from there. He turned himself into Major League Baseball after he had a relapse using alcohol and cocaine.
The snowball effect was in full force. The Angels brought him in for the 2013 season after seeing him as a regular in the All-Star game from 2008-12. That relationship started off rocky because of his production in years one and two. In his only two seasons in Anaheim, he hit .254 with 31 HR and 123 RBI. No doubt the production was getting frustrating, but the straw that broke the camels’ back was his recent self-reported substance abuse that created a whirlwind of fury within the Angels organization. In a messy divorce, the Angels eventually found a taker in the Texas Rangers for Hamilton’s services.
There isn’t a better spot for Hamilton to return than the Ballpark in Arlington. He had his best years as a Ranger where his totals in Anaheim for two years were similar to a single season in Texas.
He’s coming home, Rangers fans; Josh Hamilton is back. He spent five seasons in Texas and his numbers say he was comfortable and confident. In his wonder years there, he hit .305 with 156 doubles, 17 triples, 142 home runs and drove in 506 runs. Ladies and gentlemen, that is good for an average of 29 HR, 31 doubles and 101 RBI per season. Pretty gosh darn impressive over the course of five years.
Rangers faithful – Hamilton included – are hoping to see some of the same production from him for the rest of the season and for the rest of his career. At age 34, with off field issues arising, he will have to get back to what was working to make an impact. Easier said than done, but he has done it before. Who are we to say he can’t do it again?
His homecoming should be special and I’d assume that Texas welcomes him with arms wide open. He has to be loved by all Rangers personnel and fans for his accomplishments, and where he helped take them during his first stop. While he was on board, they reached the World Series in back-to-back years and was good enough to win the MVP in 2010. Fans can’t be bitter because he left to make his money when he could. Despite what we want to think as fans, most athletes would rather be paid than stay for cheap with a contender. The expectations can’t be great given his age and recent regression in productivity, but being comfortable and happy can go a long way.
Josh Hamilton has a problem with substance abuse. That abuse is why he was out of baseball for a few years. He has battled his addiction problems and done pretty well staying clean since his return. He needs a strong support system, an organization he trusts, and one that has faith in him. With a solid foundation behind him, he has shown he can excel and he is being given a second chance with the Rangers.
After all, this is the home of second chances and he deserves one. I can’t fathom the courage and strength it would take to overcome the obstacles standing in his way. He will join the Rangers on Monday and the ovation in Cleveland when he does could be different than his home debut. Fans everywhere will show some amount of sympathy for him, but never will the roars be louder than when he debuts in front of his second family in Arlington. We don’t know his mind set, but we all could use a pat on the back or support from time to time.
Well wishes Josh, get back to having fun. That’s the best part of baseball, it’s fun.