Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Even more on Josh Hamilton

We here at 110 percent are about to turn in our Hall of Fame nominees and judging by the amount of time I spend writing about Roy Hobbs, I mean, Josh Hamilton, it's pretty clear that he should be one of my nominees. It's hard to place his name in contention because he's been a Ranger for only a half a season and he could just as easily fail after this (in more ways then one). However this is at least my third post focused mainly on Hamilton in the brief time he's been a Ranger. The thing is he's been on my fandom radar since 2001. I've been a fan of his longer than I've known my wife, and honestly, even if he had done all this with the Yankees I would still be a fan of his. Well, maybe not the Yankees, but you get the idea. Anyway, he is the man. He is on the road to being my favorite Ranger of all time. Which leads me to my post.

After the impressive display off raw power the other night, which, BTW I jinxed quite effectively (I missed the first round for a breast feeding class and as soon as I was able to turn it on, he basically quit being able to his home runs), the national media started drooling all over Hamilton, which normally would have caused me to hate him, but I didn't mind it so much. I mean, he is Ranger. Anyway, I was reading a baseball chat and someone asked should the Rangers consider trading Hamilton for a pitcher like Tim Lincecum. If you don't know who Tim Lincecum is that's ok. He's a 24 year old ace, who this year in his second full year in the majors has an ERA under 3, a WHIP of about 1.2, and more than a strikeout per inning. He is a legitimate ace on a bad Giants team and exactly what the Rangers for lacked for most of their history. Hamilton for Lincecum wasn't an actual rumor, but a hypothetical to gauge the value of Hamilton, as in what kid of pitcher could be bring. So the question is would ya? Hypothetically, would you trade Hamilton for Lincecum? When I first read it, I was tantalized. I mean, the Rangers have all of a sudden come up with a strong outfield, even if you take Hamilton out of the equation, both offensively and defensively, with several legitimate outfielders on the way in the minors. On top of that, with Hamilton's background you have to be concerned about injuries or, God forbid, a relapse. This could be the ultimate "sell high." Also, the Rangers have a alot of pitchers in the minors, many of whom are close. But the close ones are not #1s, but rather mid rotation guys- Hurley, Harrison, etc. The big time guys with #1 potential are all in the lower minors. So a guy like Lincecum would step right in as the true ace of the staff, instead of that impostor, Millwood. (I am beginning to have lots of bitterness towards Millwood, but that is a topic for another day.)

Those would all be really good reasons to trade Hamilton for Lincecum. But after thinking about it for a while, I decided that I would be opposed to that trade. Over the history of the Rangers they've really lacked a true national superstar, both in terms of production and "face". Nolan Ryan was past his prime when he came the Rangers, and while he brought legitimacy to a moribund franchise and his production was pretty good (at times awesome), it wasn't enough to really take the team over the top. Alex Rodriguez never wanted anything more than his money and while I don't think that he's the only blame for the divorce from the Rangers, the fan base never truly embraced him. Pudge Rodriguez, after Ryan, was the closest to reach that level, and again, blame the Rangers for letting him go. I'm still trying to figure out who he learned how to handle a pitching staff as soon as he left the Rangers. I blame John Hart. He's a convenient scapegoat for the problems of the early aughts. Hamilton is a guy who can spend the prime of his career as the Rangers are in ascendancy and lead the team to heights that they've never reached before. Yes, I'm talking pennants and World Series. Scouts drool over his stools and his production has already starting to match it. The Rangers have always been a second rate franchise, even in their own town. Hamilton can bring legitimacy to the Rangers and be the national bell cow that takes the Rangers off the last 15 mins of Sports Center and onto the front pages. I think the Dallas/ Fort Worth fan base is dying to love the Rangers. With his history and the demons which he has defeated, he can be the face of the franchise as it moves into the upper eschelon of baseball.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's for nights like this that I am a fan.

First of all, I'd like to thank the miracle of the internet for allowing me to being able to take part in tonight's game. If it weren't for you, I'd be watching 45 minutes of ESPN before I'd have any clue what in the world happened in lowly Texas. I'd have to watch idiodicy like Titletown. Man, ESPN sucks.

But I'm not here to talk about ESPN. I'm here to celebrate the greatness of Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers. On a night in which the Rangers, dealing with so many injuries in the starting rotation, they started Warner Madrigal, a rookie who hadn't pitched about A ball until this year and is considered a reliever down the road, hoping he'd go three innings. The Rangers were praying just stay in the game and not have to burn through their whole bullpen, and miracle or miracles, they were in the game, down 4-2 into the bottom of the ninth, with the top of the order up.

A couple of base hits and couple of outs later, it's 4-3 with a man on and 2 outs and Hamilton at the plate. They don't call him Hobbs for nothing, and fittingly, as he rounded the bases, they played the tune from the Natural. (It doesn't matter that they play it after every Ranger's homer).

With my wife trying to sleep in the next room, I jumped and danced and celebrated and screamed as quietly as I could. It's these kinds of a games that makes it fun to be fan. That somehow or another, almost 700 miles away, I could join Josh Hamilton, the rest of the Ranger players, and all the Ranger's fans in celebrating a truly memorable moments for the Texas Rangers. I'll leave commentary about what this may mean for this year's edition of the Rangers for a later time. I'm too busy celebrating.