Josh Hamilton departure is a long-term plus for Texas Rangers
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As a Texas Rangers enthusiast, I should be upset with Josh Hamilton. After all, he committed treason in the offseason by signing an exorbitant contract with a hated adversary and stated in an interview last week that Dallas/Ft. Worth is not a true baseball area. However, I have chosen largely to ignore Josh Hamilton and treat him with a high amount of indifference because I believe the Rangers will be better off in the long term without his services. This article is my swan song in regards to Josh Hamilton.
First of all, I do agree with Hamilton that Dallas/Ft. Worth is not what one would consider a true “baseball town.” The metroplex will forever be a football-addicted area, obsessed over high school, college and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
The television ratings prove the Cowboys will always be king in D/FW. For example, the Texas Rangers were in the midst of an extended road trip last August. The team began a pivotal four-game series in the Bronx against the New York Yankees on a Monday night. The Dallas Cowboys happened to open their preseason on Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders the same evening. Despite the fact the Rangers were in first place and playing baseball’s marquee franchise, the Cowboys exhilarating 3-0 win over Oakland had higher television ratings.
The Dallas Cowboys could finish 0-16 for 10 consecutive seasons and still have a stranglehold over D/FW. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can continue to mismanage and run the team into obscurity, but football-addicted fans in the metroplex will still care. The team will always garner interest, sell merchandise and perpetually sell out the monstrosity next door to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington 10 games per season.
Besides being a football town, Dallas/Ft. Worth is also what former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current FOX broadcaster Troy Aikman described as a “winner’s town.”
The Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999, advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2000 before losing to New Jersey and appeared in the playoffs for many seasons after. The fans in Dallas/Ft. Worth had hockey fever that even more cowbell could not have cured. However, the last few seasons the Stars began to play poorly and have not appeared in the playoffs this decade. The crowds shrunk and so did fan interest.
The Dallas Mavericks have played fantastic basketball since owner Mark Cuban bought the team in 2000, making the playoffs every season since 2001. After several humiliating playoff failures, the Mavericks finally won the NBA Finals in 2011, winning the franchise’s first NBA championship.
Before Cuban bough the Mavericks, the franchise was in disarray. The team was arguably the worst professional sports franchise in the ’90s. Reunion Arena was regularly empty, a very different scene from when the Mavs were playing excellent basketball in the 1980s, taking the Los Angeles Lakers all the way to a seventh game in the 1988 Western Conference Finals thanks to the raucous Reunion Rowdies.
There are some devout Rangers fans, but support has not always been at the high level it is now. Before the Rangers won three AL West titles in four seasons in the late ’90s, fans were hopeful Texas would play well enough to keep them intrigued until Cowboys training camp began in late July. There was a popular phrase: “There are two sports in Texas, football and spring football.”
Like the Stars and Mavericks, the Rangers fan base swells when the team wins. Attendance was high in the late ’90s, and so was enthusiasm. Then, when the Rangers began a face-plant into irrelevance in the early 2000s, due largely to poor management and ownership, attendance and intrigue dropped.
Due to Josh Hamilton’s comments about Dallas/Ft. Worth not being a true baseball town, a movement is growing among Rangers fans to ignore Hamilton when he is announced before his first at-bat on Friday April 5 when the Angels make their first appearance in Arlington. A Twitter account, @Silence4Josh, was created to help spread the word. In a way, I feel shunning Hamilton is giving him more attention than booing him. However, there is no possible way all the fans in the ballpark will stay silent anyway.
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