We're now slowly meandering into what most of us tend to regard as baseball's pre-season, which itself doubles as interview season on the Surprise campus, and there's a part of me that welcomes the abrupt 0-to-60 increase in player/coach/management quotes if only because it's something young, fresh, and new to talk about. Now, granted, that same part of me is due to be smothered out of existence within the next couple of weeks, because the reality is that most of those quotes really tell us little to nothing and are, in fact, a huge beating. Remember: spring training is awesome only up until you've reached the point where you're ready for the real games to begin ... and then it isn't so awesome anymore.
So, with all that in mind, let's take some new Josh Hamilton quotes that are out there today and allow him to keep hammering home his overriding point that he's not going to accept one iota of a discount from his present employer:
“The Rangers have done a lot of me. I have a question. Have I done a lot for the Rangers? I think I have given them everything I’ve got. When it comes down to is, people have to understand this is a business. I love Texas, I love the fans, I love the organization and I love my teammates. But I’m not going to sit here and say I owe the Rangers. I don’t feel I owe the Rangers.”
"Treat me fair," said Hamilton, who was on hand at a free hitting exhibition with MLB Network's Harold Reynolds at the Special Events Center in Garland on Tuesday afternoon. "Don't come here with no ridiculously low stuff. You know, just be fair.... Obviously I love it here in Texas, but it always comes down to getting treated fairly."
And Hamilton again, from earlier today, responding to a question about whether he would award himself a long-term contract if he had the authority to do so:
"It's not for me to make that decision," Hamilton said. "I hate that this happened. They have been very good to me. But I know I will play baseball. I know God has taken care of me and provided for my family. I'm not going to just jump at whatever might be the first thing offered me. I'm confident in my sobriety. I'm confident in my family's support. I'm here and I'm going to play baseball."
His latest remarks seem to be provoking a mixed reaction from the Twitterverse, with most of those already being aware of his earlier insistence upon being treated "fairly" by Texas, and, accordingly, not being at all surprised by what was said today. Others seem to get it, but are rubbed the wrong way by the fact that he's bringing up his I-don't-owe-Texas-anything position in front of the press so soon after the Sherlock's incident. Others still seem to be teetering right on the verge of turning on Hamilton himself, which wouldn't be the first time an impending free agent ceded some fan support by way of his comments -- except that such support doesn't usually wane a full season before said free agency.
What makes this at least mildly interesting is that several different baseball pundits have come forward in the last few weeks to explain precisely why they do believe that Hamilton owes the Rangers -- owes them for fostering a positive environment that maximized his chances of succeeding, for watching him closely in the interest of his own well-being, and for supporting him in almost every conceivable way. In both of those cases (here and here), though, the argument was made that Hamilton should be amenable to signing guaranteed one-year deals from the Rangers into perpetuity ... and that's taking the Josh-owes-the-Rangers narrative entirely too far towards the direction of irrationality.
There's something else that's lingered on my mind with regard to this who-owes-who bit, as well: During the course of his five-year stint in Texas, Hamilton has earned (or will earn) approximately $30 million in exchange for a quantity of value produced that should be in excess of 20 wins above replaecment. That he's been paid so relatively little for a body of work that would have otherwise been worth some 3-4 times as much on the open market isn't the fault of the Rangers, of course, because that is the design of the system at work -- but I can squint and tilt my head to one side and kind of see why he'd incorporate that into his feeling of not owing the Rangers anything from a financial standpoint.
Alright. The itch is back. Let's get to it.