Thursday, September 23, 2010
No Josh Hamilton: Power Rangers Too Powerless
His name is familiar and critical amid an unthinkable postseason push, and without Josh Hamilton, the comeback kid in baseball for restoring humankind and inspiration following a remorseful recovery a few years ago before he almost self-destructed, the Texas Rangers are doomed unless their superstar suddenly uplifts the psyche of a favorable club from imploding.
And to believe we debated, with considerable reasoning, whether the Rangers are equipped without the virtuous slugger in a period when the franchise is bearing a crisis is a trait of optimism.
Nowadays, after turning his life around by avoiding his troubled comrades and choosing to wisely stay away from bars and tattoo parlors, he honestly has emerged as a famous sports figure and has been a convenient essential in a workable nucleus in the heart of Texas.
By virtue, he mirthfully revived his troubled personality and habits and became a well-behaved role model to forge a touching story in baseball. It doesn’t take long, of course, to purge critics and skeptics, and it doesn’t take long for an athlete to repair his image.
All Hamilton needed was a mesmerizing spectacle in New York, where he captivated all fans sitting in the stands at the old Yankee Stadium as a participant in the Home Run Derby contest at the All-Star Game, but in reality, he needed a team to believe in his restoration.
With the Rangers expected to surge in the postseason, riding closer towards clinching the AL West division, he is depended upon to lead Texas on a spectacular chase. It’s quite known that he has reclaimed his talent and saved himself. Finally, he has exorcised a myriad of critics with multiple coming out parties from the clouded images of alcohol and drugs that almost sadly crippled his career and cost him his life.
Typically, during his blemished era when he had been banished from baseball in 2004 and was strung out on coke and drunk a bottle of Crown Royal a day and tossed away his $4 million signing bonus, Hamilton had certainty that he’d eventually make a strong recovery and return to the majors as a good-natured superstar. He indeed came back as a natural talent and almost had a miraculous run, becoming a Triple Crown threat.
These days, of course, he is the paradigm of a valuable lesson that anybody can fight off adversity and elude turbulence. But the latest injury report pertaining to Hamilton, the majors’ leading hitter and a top AL MVP candidate revealed Tuesday that he suffered three fractured ribs and has not played since crashing into a wall at Minnesota Sept. 4.
The bad news is that his departure spells doom for the AL West leading Rangers. He is, respectively, the superstar of a playoff-caliber team, a catalyst in the lineup, and certainly without him the Rangers aren’t a vital playoff threat.
The irony is that Hamilton means a lot to the clubhouse and has been phenomenal as the Rangers have blistered with the assistance of arguably the streakiest and finest hitter in baseball. Without him over the past 14 games into Tuesday, the Rangers have finished a mere 8-6 to somehow survive and shun the horror of a lousy letdown late in the season.
With all the remarkable comebacks in the past, it’s hard to envision Hamilton sitting out in his first postseason appearance, a perennial objective that tremendously took diligence and inspiration, accomplished when he finally gave up on alcohol and drugs.
After nearly destroying his career, in reality, he matured and wasn’t as naïve or brainless and realized the importance of saving not only his livelihood, but his spirit. The reality of an imminent future is that he simply rationalized he had to release all the trauma of depravity for a cure of humanity. And now, he’s suffering from a similar crisis, inactive because of a serious injury and it could cost Hamilton to miss the postseason.
One of the frustrating issues about the Rangers is that without Cliff Lee at the top of the rotation and Hamilton in the middle of the order, they are clearly an elusive team vulnerable of dropping in the first-round.
How ironic it is for Hamilton that he’s being treated and given an anti-inflammatory injection and an epidural nerve-block injection for pain, all while having a dazzling season with his swaggering hits and discipline at every at-bat. Meanwhile, he’s very confident he’ll be back for the action this fall.
“I have to be optimistic,” Hamilton says. “If not, I’d be moping around here, dragging around, and that’s not going to do good for my teammates.”
Again, he’s fighting off the adversity and bearing with the circumstances, only this time while nursing an injury. In a way, he has no choice and tries to improve his health to contribute with his teammates in an epic marathon presumably.
In the process, the Rangers are aiming to drive to the fall classic, but without the particular ingredient, which is Hamilton, Texas will have an uncomfortable and difficult task for surviving in the postseason.
By all means, as the Rangers aim closer to capturing their first postseason appearance since 1999, the commodity and ambition shrinks completely.
Amid a critical juncture, if the Rangers meet the New York Yankees in the first round, as expected, it is sensible to think that the Yankees will pulverize the Rangers, despite the tremendous pressure as favorites to pull off the best-of-seven series defeat. Above all, the Rangers have nothing to lose, proclaimed as underdogs.
Because the Yanks are having an abysmal season, Texas took advantage of New York’s sluggish spurts and managed to beat the Yankees in a three-game sweep. It would be foolish to suggest, as the body language is sturdier, as the mindset is more alarmed and as the intensity rises rapidly, that the Bronx Bombers won’t awaken and assert for the postseason.
And to match the Yankees' toughness, the Rangers will need the strength of Hamilton, who solidifies the lineup with his powerful bat.
One of the things Hamilton is selling is parity and resiliency in the lineup. While he has been hampered by ailments, as the Rangers ride based on his incredible hitting, he showed two small stable fractures in the seventh and eighth ribs in his right side. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to work in a few at-bats and rehab assignments in the final series of the regular season to return to hitting form and repossess his swagger.
If the Rangers cannot survive without Hamilton, they are in trouble. Considering his severe injury, Hamilton seems incapable of returning to the line up in time for the postseason. But mostly, he needs time to regain form, and needs to handle the uncomfortable pain.
The downside is the limited ripple effect without Hamilton, and the Rangers are less efficient as the hitting ratio plunges drastically. His unprecedented success is timely and parlays the high-powered offense of the Power Rangers, whenever he is part of the lineup. In the meantime, he leads the majors with a .361 batting average, and leads the majors with a .635 slugging percentage.
Incredibly, inexplicably, he has drilled 31 homers, drove in 97 RBI and scored 97 runs in 130 games. But unfortunately, he has missed 15 straight games because of his injury.
So far, Hamilton has been informed by doctors that he can play when he can tolerate pain. Knowingly, he can tolerate aches and pains. After all, he’s strong. Anytime someone overcomes drug and alcohol addictions, they are strong mentally and physically.
“I think it’s something happy,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said after hearing the news. “To know that once the residue of the shots wear off, he can start doing activities, and then it’s tolerance.”
“Hopefully, his tolerance can get him back on the field.”
After the shots, Hamilton said he felt relieved, but the next 48 to 72 hours are the most decisive. For now, however, the Rangers are bottomless with Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, and Elvis Andrus, a lineup conceivably built with dexterity.
And surely among all things it seems Lee, the undeniable ace a year ago with the Phillies, has recuperated from his frequent back injuries and could possibly formulate an encore with his extraordinary, hitless masterpiece. As it turns out, David Murphy has taken the place of Hamilton and has filled in efficiently, hitting .397 in his past 17 games.
Unless he comes out of a flak jacket-type vest, reduces the periodic cortisone shots and arrives on time, it’s still highly unlikely that the Rangers win without his presence. With an eight-game lead in the AL West, they’ll win the division, no doubt.
However, it’s not clear when he might play a game for the Rangers. Realistically, without Hamilton, the Power Rangers aren’t nearly as powerful.