At their end-of-season press conference yesterday, Rangers brass mostly deflected questions about Josh Hamilton's terrible performance down the stretch.
Team president Nolan Ryan opened up a bit more yesterday to Galloway & Company on ESPN Dallas, at least about Hamilton's on-field performance. Ryan dismissed the idea that Hamilton quit on the Rangers but noted that Hamilton did, however, quit chewing tobacco, which had much the same effect.
Surely you remember Hamilton's mid-summer slump that he attributed, in vaguely ominous fashion, to personal demons before revealing that he was only trying to quit the dip.
"His timing on quitting smokeless tobacco couldn't have been worse," Ryan told the station. "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."
Hamilton pulled out of his summer slump only to be sidelined a month later when his addictive tendencies drove Hamilton to consume so many energy drinks that he couldn't see.
Given how close they were to winning there division, there are any number of scenarios in which the Rangers would still be playing. A clutch hit here, a better pitch there down the stretch would have put them in the actual playoffs, not the one-game wild card. They probably would be there if Hamilton hadn't quit chewing tobacco. But that's neither here nor there. The whole team blew it.