What is it about this time of year that brings out the smitten schoolboy in the venerable Jim Reeves?
Revo makes a convenient punching bag here because the example is so clear and the problem so transparent, but the problem does not reside with Revo alone. The sports columnists in this market are frequently prone to allowing their personal feelings for players to turn into what I refer to as "false narratives" and ultimately get in the way of reasonable analysis.
Let Reeves illustrate: in two examples one year apart, he criticizes the Rangers for not kneejerking and making a bad deal driven by hurt feelings (Young's) and then criticizes Josh Hamilton for not kneejerking and making a bad deal driven by hurt feelings (Revo's and yours, the fans).
One year ago, as Michael Young was throwing his epic tantrum and demanding a trade because Jon Daniels stole Mike Napoli, Revo wrote the following:
Do what [Young is] asked. Pay him the respect of doing this one last favor [trading him], not because it's what's best for the team -- I simply don't believe that's true -- but because he deserves the chance to see whether he can find an organization that will fully appreciate him for what he brings to a team, on the field and off. The Rangers, sadly, have never been that organization.
Yes. The man actually advocated that the Rangers do something harmful to the organization to mollify a 33 year old man throwing a hissy fit.
Ironically, Revo's scathing criticism of the Rangers front office went on to conclude the following:
This is one of those things the Rangers, historically, have never done well. They've never just come right out and said, "This guy is ours, from beginning to end. We're here for him because he's always been here for us." There's never quite been that mutual love and respect that goes into a "forever" relationship.
Putting aside the stupidity of criticizing a ballclub for not overpaying over the hill players out of "loyalty," let us wallow in the irony as we contemplate Mr. Reeves' latest missive, just over one year later wherein he weeps openly at Josh Hamilton's failure to accept the enduring and unconditional love that all of Rangers nation has showered upon him over the past four years.
What I've been thinking, what I'd hoped that Josh had learned, is that he's found a home here; a real home. He's found an organization that appreciates him and supports him in every possible way, through thick and thin, through success and failure. He has found a fandom that loves him -- even adores him -- and has invested something precious in him.
2011: The Rangers are breaking Revo's heart by not making a bad deal to make Michael Young happy.
2012: Josh Hamilton is breaking Revo's heart by not making a bad deal to make Revo happy.
2011: Sadly, the Rangers don't ever commit to a player forever.
2012: Sadly, Josh Hamilton is making a mistake by not committing to the Rangers forever.
Neither of these pieces focus much, if at all, on baseball analysis. Both are about hurt feelings and in both Reeves evidently appears to advocate that someone make a bad decision in order to make someone else happy.
In both cases, Reeves -- and he is not alone among his peers -- begins with a false assumption that he probably believes is true, and which is a product of the groupthink of the pressbox creating a narrative and running with it without stopping to consider whether or not it is true.
Michael Young, in spite of being a good ballplayer and probably a generally decent guy, never was the man who made more sacrifices than anyone in the history of baseball for the good of his team. But that was the narrative that the Rangers pressbox created for Young and that's the lens -- the only lens -- through which they were able to view his grievances.
In the case of Hamilton, there are two false narratives at work that lead to the sort of embarassingly emotional and unobjective stuff that Reeves put out yesterday.
Josh Hamilton, I am quite certain, is not the only spiritual man in the Rangers clubhouse. Nor is he the only guy who gives 100 percent or is willing to sacrifice his body or who plays all-out, all the time. But the media has created an image of Hamilton which leads them to expect him to do something that nobody else is expected to do. Hate to break your heart, but Josh Hamilton is not the first devout Christian who wanted to get paid market value for his services.
Moroever, I seriously doubt that Hamilton is the only player that the Rangers organization has gone above-and-beyond to support through personal crisis. But Hamilton's personal crises have been so public, and once again, the media has created a narrative about how the Rangers have gone "above-and-beyond" in supporting Hamilton that the guy is supposed to believe that he owes them something that he doesn't.
Revo got one thing right. Hamilton is almost certainly playing his final season in a Rangers uniform.
But when leaves next winter, it will probably very clearly be the right decision for both player and ballclub just like allowing C.J. Wilson to walk will probably turn out to be the best thing for both player and ballclub.
Josh Hamilton is a special talent as a baseball player. If you were to make the argument that he is one of the five most physically gifted outfielders in baseball history, you wouldn't get any pushback from me. Someone out there will pay a lot of money for that. Someone will pay a premium for the added value of Hamilton's "story." There will always be organizations who are willing to pay a player for the next four (or five) years based upon what the player did the last four years (or one year, or two years).
The Rangers will not be that organization. This Rangers regime will pay players for what they believe the player will do over the next four years rather than what they did the last four years.
And the team that makes the four or five year investment in Hamilton next winter -- whether it is Seattle or Toronto or Baltimore -- will work to protect that investment just like the Rangers tried to protect their investment in this player.
One of the things that is most bizarre about Reeves' position is that there doesn't seem to be any indication whatsoever that the Rangers have given him a decision to make, much like they didn't give Wilson a decision to make. The only offer that the Rangers reportedly made to Wilson was laughably low. I have no doubt that the offer was based upon what the Rangers believed was his actual value over the next three years, but vis-a-vis his market value, they knew it was laughably low and to the credit of both the Rangers and Wilson, neither spent a moment whining about it and both moved on by making what they thought was the decision that was in their respective best interests.
But, according to Reeves, Hamilton is supposed to go groveling to Jon Daniels and beg for an offer that is tens of millions of dollars below what Hamilton believes his market value will be at the end of the 2012 season right now because he owes it to you for cheering for him:
What Josh doesn't seem to get is that when he says he's not going to bend, even a little, in order to stay in Texas, it's not just the Rangers organization he's playing hardball with, it's the fans he professes to love. He's telling us, in so many words, that there are more suckers just like us in the next burg down the road and that we don't really matter at all. It's all about the Benjamins.
This nonsense is as unrealistic and unfair to Hamilton as last winter's plea for Jon Daniels to shoot himself in the foot to make Michael Young happy was to the Rangers.
And just like the Orioles, Blue Jays or Mariners organization will go above-and-beyond to protect their investment in Hamilton every bit as vigilantly as the Rangers did, the fans in whichever one of those cities Hamilton lands in will embrace him just like you did here in Texas.
And they won't be suckers any more than you were.
The only sucker in the room will be the guy with a notepad who expects either the ballclub or the player to make a stupid decision because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings.