Josh Hamilton’s statements at his introductory press conference with the Angels were predictable with subtle digs at the Rangers, religious references, expressions of happiness to be with the new club, etc. Nothing earth-shattering was said.
In addition to paying him a lot of money (5-years, $125 million), the Angels are doing their best to place Hamilton in the sobriety cocoon and have hired Hamilton’s sponsor/babysitter Shayne Kelley away from the Rangers to keep an eye on Hamilton and try to tether him to the wagon and ensure the Angels aren’t paying for another trip to rehab instead of an outfielder to provide them with 40 homers. It’s a relatively paltry investment to pay Kelley when they’ve got so much riding on Hamilton without benefit of a prenuptial agreement to protect them if he starts using again.
In conjunction with the “marriage” theme, the most poignant and accurate moment wasn’t what Hamilton said, but what his wife said. In comparing the free agent process to a relationship, Katie Hamilton said (clipped from this ESPN story):
“We were with them for five years. If you’re going to date someone, you make it known and official pretty quick,” she said. “They let us date other teams and Josh had said he would give them first chance and they didn’t (make a move).”
The Rangers are, in a sense, the spurned lover. Hamilton “left” them for someone else and didn’t give them a chance to win back his heart. But, in that same context, the Rangers will take a bit of time to reflect on the ups and downs of Hamilton’s tenure; understand with a coldly analytical efficiency that if it were to go forward, the peaks weren’t worth the potential valleys at the cost and commitment it was going to take to retain him and keep him clean and productive.
It’s mentally and physically exhausting to constantly supervise one individual as if he’s an infant who’ll run into traffic once a head is turned. That’s where it was with Hamilton. He’s a 31-year-old, 6’4”, 240 pound infant and is the Angels’ responsibility now.
It works both ways and by using the relationship metaphor, Katie Hamilton is right. The Rangers may not know it yet, but once it sinks it, they’ll be relieved. The bitterness will pass, they’ll wake up after the fog of rejection clears and realize that they’re glad he’s gone. Hamilton did the work by failing to give the Rangers the option to match the deal—something they probably weren’t going to do anyway. Now they can move on without the Hamilton baggage that was getting too heavy and costly for them to carry. It’s for the best.