Josh Hamilton and His Head-First Sliding: Super or Stupid?
I ask you, what the hell is Josh Hamilton doing?
Some of you will say that's his style, and you're willing to accept the injuries that accompany his 110% play. If so, I say you are more Josh fans than Rangers fans. Because as we just witnessed as the team went 15-22 in his absence, the Rangers need Hamilton if they expect to return to the World Series.
And repeating the same process that got him hurt in the first place is no way to stay healthy.
I've talked to Ron Washington, third base coach Dave Anderson and general manager Jon Daniels, who all say "in a perfect world" Hamilton would never slide head-first again. During his rehab stint in the minors Hamilton suggested he might "tweak" his style.
But last night was seemingly a head-first middle finger to those of us who prefer discretion over valor when it comes to the Rangers' best player.
I also talked recently to Rusty Greer, a former Ranger who never met a slide he didn't like. He says asking/telling/forcing Josh to alter his style of play would be to threaten and even diminish his performance.
But perhaps there's a middle ground?
In last night's 8th inning Hamilton beat out an infield hit with a head-first slide, stole second base with a head-first slide and moved to third on a wild pitch with, yep, another head-first slide. He almost stole for the head-first cycle.
Impressive? Absolutely. Smart? Not even a little bit.
I don't want Josh Hamilton to be baseball's most balls-out competitor, I want the Texas Rangers to be baseball's best team.
But despite the obvious danger and the desires of his coaches and management, Josh isn't going to throttle back.
"If I stop doing that," says Hamilton, "then I won't be true to myself as a baseball player or true to my teammates or the fans that watch me play the game."
Asked what the sliding proved, Josh responded "That I want to win. Isn't that what I get paid to do?"
Answer: A big part of helping your team winning is staying healthy.
Hamilton is a five-tool player. But because of that stubborn mind-set that will get him hurt again at some point, durability isn't one of them.