This is the sensitive portion of the offseason for the Texas Rangers. Scapegoats rest comfortably next to failure, and Nolan Ryan believes Josh Hamilton really should have kept on dipping.
The slugger who has been through so much in his life was booed into the sunset by the home crowd.
Roy Hobbes in a Rangers jersey went 0-for-4 in the Wild Card Game against the Baltimore Orioles and became the most visible reason Texas is at home as the MLB playoffs continue into October.
Hamilton deserves criticism for his performance in the clutch just as any high-priced talent does, but there is always a point where the blame takes a ridiculous turn.
That's exactly what happened when Nolan Ryan called out his outfielder for quitting his use of smokeless tobacco at the wrong time.
The Rangers president sounded off on the end of the season to ESPN and discussed, among other things, the tobacco habit of his slugger:
His timing on quitting smokeless tobacco couldn’t have been worse. You would’ve liked to have thought that if he was going to do that that he would’ve done it in the offseason or waited until this offseason to do it. So the drastic effect that it had on him and the year that he was having up to that point in time when he did quit, you’d have liked that he would’ve taken a different approach to that. So those issues that are created that caused unrest, and it’s unfortunate that it happened and the timing was such as it was.
Please, Hamilton. Don't abuse substances and keep on the straight and narrow, but only when it's convenient to the organization that pays you.
Keep on spitting, if only for the good of the team.
It's important to point out Ryan was careful to say Hamilton did not "quit" on the team, horrible day at the plate, dropped ball in Oakland and other gaffes withstanding.
But the tobacco line is really rather silly.
Not that I believe his going tobacco-less caused irreparable harm at the end of the season. Look, 0-for-4 games happen, and it's something we learn to live with.
As for the 31-year-old playing out the season, he was hardly dreadful.
He may have hit a horrible snag in the final three games in Oakland that dissolved into a bad day against the Orioles, but his OPS and slugging were higher in September than in August, and he managed to equal his home run output between those months.
So if the man, who recently was told his caffeine habit was ruining his eye sight, wanted to kick the tobacco spitting, let's cut him a break.
The man is an addict and has issues with saying no to addictive things. There is never a bad time for him to stop using any substance.
We can blame tobacco for a great many things, but not the demise of the Rangers' season.
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