The Josh Hamilton story has already become famous. But now, the Hamilton story will be retold several dozen more times over the next two weeks. If there’s someone out there who doesn’t know about his past substance abuse, and his miraculous comeback, that will change soon. Since the Rangers are in the World Series, and there won’t be a Yankees-Phillies rematch, the networks are scrambling for storylines to hype. Yet the Josh Hamilton story is still unfinished, as a World Series title still awaits for a Hollywood ending.
The former phenom was counted out, in more ways than one, after flaming out in his first stint in baseball. After overcoming his drug abuse, he returned to the game and landed with the Rangers which didn’t stand to make much impact. Since Hamilton was a supposedly wasted talent, and the Rangers were eternally mediocre, most overlooked their union.
In 2008, the Josh Hamilton story really began with an MVP-level first half, and his now famous Home Run Derby show in the old Yankee Stadium. But an injury-plagued 2009 left him with more to prove, which he did in 2010. The likely AL MVP took the Rangers back to the playoffs, although he had one more obstacle to overcome at the end.
An injury sidelined him for much of September, and he took a while to get back in form. In fact, the Rangers beat the Rays largely in spite of him, as Cliff Lee and the other bats carried the load. But when the ALCS started, Hamilton became an MVP once again.
The tone was set immediately in his first at-bat, as he hit an opening home run off C.C. Sabathia in Game 1. From that point on, the Rangers largely dominated the Yankees, despite slipups in Games 1 and 5. Yet the ALCS soon became the Josh Hamilton story, as he gave Lee all the run support he needed in Game 3, and sealed Game 4 with two late home runs.
Since he had four home runs and a .350 average through the first five games, the Yankees were deathly afraid of him last night. After he got a hit in his first at-bat, they intentionally walked him three straight times. That strategy cost them their season, as Vladimir Guerrero’s fifth-inning two-run double, after the second Hamilton walk, opened the floodgates for the Rangers.
Although he had only one official at-bat in Game 6, the fear of Hamilton hung over the Yankees, and caused them to make a final fatal mistake. This is the end result of the Josh Hamilton story, as his mere presence can change a big game. Most thought he would make this impact years ago, but they couldn’t see the route he would take to get there.
Now that Josh Hamilton has taken Texas to uncharted heights, his story will be among the central subplots of the World Series, starting on Wednesday night.
MLB.com- “Hamilton wraps up ALCS with MVP honors”