It has been said that home is where the heart is.
It has also been said that you can’t go home again.
While both of those statements may be true, through stage and screen it has been portrayed that one need only click their heels together and say, “There is no place like home” and they will be magically transported there.
Today Josh Hamilton got his wish, without the need for ruby red slippers, and is returning home to the Texas Rangers after what can only be described as a disaster of a time playing for the Los Angeles Angels.
In fact, the Angels were so willing to be rid of Josh Hamilton that they are paying him $68 million to go away.
In his three years with the Angels, Hamilton battled numerous injuries and watched his offensive numbers plummet while also making many more defensive errors than usual.
It was also during this time that Hamilton once again succumbed to many of his personal addictions which had almost ended his career when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Having yet to suit up this season Hamilton last saw action in 2014 when he hit .263 with 10 homers and 44 RBI in 89 games before being sidelined from April 9-June 3 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.
Things started looking up slightly for Hamilton in his final 45 regular season games when he batted .329 and ended the year with a 14-game hitting streak.
While the Angels are ready to move past the disaster of a relationship they had with Josh Hamilton, the Rangers are hoping that the player coming back to Arlington is more like the one who left in 2012 than the version of the player that struggled in the shadow of Disneyland.
While with the Rangers from 2008-12, Hamilton batted .305 with 142 home runs and 506 RBI in 647 games. He was named an All-Star in all five seasons he was with Texas, won three A.L. Silver Slugger awards, was named the Rangers Player of the Year two times, and received the American League Most Valuable Player in 2010.
It really is a small world after all that a player who left town in a flurry of angry fans can be welcomed back to ask forgiveness from those same fans that he shunned for the lights of the big city.
During a news conference at the Rangers Ballpark to announce his return Hamilton took time to address the comments he made when he left that angered some fans.
“You know, I’ve said some dumb things, and I continue to say dumb things sometimes,” Hamilton said. “I’m not gonna sit here and try to clarify all the dumb things I said cause we’d be here for a while. But I just want all the fans to know that I’m back here, I’m back home, I’m gonna give you everything I’ve got just like I did when I was here…. I’m excited about it.”
Time will tell if the fans fully embrace his return but one thing is clear Josh Hamilton needs the Rangers and the closeness of home.
That is not to say that the Dallas Metroplex is not a big city but for a player like Josh Hamilton, who has battled substance abuse issues his whole career, it was the temptations of Tinsel Town that ultimately led the Angels to give up on the troubled outfielder.
After admitting to a violation of the Major League Baseball substance abuse policy, Hamilton was cleared by an arbitrator who deemed that a suspension was not needed.
Usually this would make almost any team happy to learn that they would not have a player suspended. Of course the Angels took the opposite approach and were angered that Hamilton would not be punished for his most recent fall off of the wagon.
With a full no trade clause in his contract the Angels could not just trade away their problems to just anyone. They had to find a team that would embrace Josh Hamilton and accept all of the baggage that went along with that.
That team is the Texas Rangers who already had a support system in place to try to keep Josh Hamilton away from his demons.
With Hamilton being closer to the end of his career than the beginning the Rangers are likely his last chance to show that he still belongs in Major League Baseball.
Of course Josh Hamilton is more than just a baseball player and he noted during the news conference that he understands that careers are finite.
“The reason I’m making certain changes in my life is because I want to be okay when baseball’s over,” Hamilton said.
As an addict who plays baseball, Josh Hamilton has a large platform to use to help warn younger players, and people in general of the dangers of addiction.
If the past is any indication Hamilton will use that platform to the best of his ability within the Dallas area and beyond and perhaps that is what the Texas Rangers need the most.
After spending time in extended Spring Training in Arizona Hamilton is expected to make his return to the Rangers in mid to late May which will be homecoming day.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to decide which Rangers games I am going to go to this year.
Copyright 2015 R Anderson