I'm a Texas Rangers fan to the core. I was a little boy when the team came to the Metroplex from our nation's capitol. I have vivid memories of those 70's teams. My heroes were the likes of Toby Harrah, Jeff Burroughs, Fergie Jenkins, the manager Ted Williams. I was there when David Clyde pitched his first game, electrifying the crowd.
I am quite invested in the franchise. For years my heart was broken by the continued crappy play. Like the longsuffering Cubs fans, I have been a longsuffering Rangers fan. Each spring my hopes would run wild of a World Series championship.
Those years of torture were almost rewarded as the team reached the World Series two straight years. In true Rangers fashion, the club managed to let the second one slip away after having the Cardinals down to one strike, twice.
Anyway, it tore my heart out. It left me depressed for weeks. But I'm better now.
Last week the former prize of the Rangers, Josh Hamilton, returned to Arlington for the first time since he signed with the hated LA Angels in the off-season. And the fans greeted him with appropriate amount of venom.
Now, this was a bed of Josh's own making. Although the Rangers coddled him and did all they could during his five years to keep him on the straight and narrow. Given his awful history with substance abuse, it was no easy thing to provide constant supervision to protect Josh from himself.
Even with all that, Josh could not keep his yap shut and take the high road after signing with the Angels. He and his family said the Rangers didn't go after him aggressively enough to re-sign him. Hamilton complained that the Metroplex is not a baseball town.
The last images of Hamilton playing in a Rangers uniform were his woeful at-bats in the one-game playoff to the A's last year. He dropped a fly ball any little leaguer could have caught. He swung wildly in critical at-bats. The fans booed him right off the field.
And it was fitting they booed him at every opportunity upon his return to Texas. As Rangers public address announcer Chuck Morgan so perfectly summed up the fan response...Josh poked the bear and the bear responded.
Chants of "baseball town" reigned down on Hamilton. Each at bat he was booed mercilessly. And it was delicious for the fans to see Josh flail away at first pitches like he did time after time after time his final season here.
Did some fans cross the line? Perhaps. Bringing Hamilton's substance abuse into the heckling is a bit of bad form, but who can blame the crowds?
Hamilton brought this on himself. He has been and can be one of the premier talents in the major leagues. He also has been and will be one of the biggest head cases in sports. Yes, he's a great talent and can help you win many games. However, his need for special handling and his often nutty way of thinking won't be missed.
The Rangers are off to a good start in 2013. Will they miss Hamilton? Certainly. However, they might be a better team without him.
That's why they play the game. We'll all know whether letting Hamilton walk was a mistake come September.
That's what I'm thinking.