Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hamilton Angels Baseball 

By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

For the past few years, the Angels have needed a left-handed bat in the heart of their lineup. The Angels have had plenty of sluggers, but they were primarily right-handers. They lacked the balance that could strike fear in an opposing pitcher and could neutralize any advantage an opposing manager could invoke against the heart of the lineup.

Over the weekend, the Angels announced that they had solved that problem; They had signed Josh Hamilton—the best left-handed hitter available (if not the best left-handed hitter in baseball overall). As a fan, I could not be more thrilled.

There’s no doubt that over the next five years that Josh Hamilton will be the new go-to guy in the Angels’ lineup. His bat is that good. He can carry an offense for weeks or months at a time. With Trout, a potential MVP candidate, and Pujols an established MVP, the Angels will feature one of the most devastating lineups in all of baseball.

However, as I watched the Angels’ Press Conference announcing Josh Hamilton, I realized that Josh Hamilton may be the Angels new go-to guy in a different way—one that would prove just as important as his bat in the lineup.

Prior to the press conference, I spoke with several reporters about the upcoming season. One of the topics we discussed was who would be the go-to guy in the Angels clubhouse for quotes throughout the season. For the past five years, that role had been filled by Torii Hunter. When he left as a free agent for Detroit, it created a void in the clubhouse that would be hard to fill.

But, as soon as Josh Hamilton started speaking in the press conference, I realized that there was much more to him than a potent bat. I saw a man who was excited to be an Angel. Knowing how much of a man of faith he is, his comment about starting off a Devil Ray and ending up an Angel was as serious to him as it was funny.

Throughout the press conference, Hamilton was smiling and fist pumping with excitement. He was humble about the other great players on the team, pointing out several who deserved praise. He handled tough questions, especially those about his checkered past, with integrity to the man he is today. He was proud of his wife and family, and looking forward to becoming part of the Angels community.

As he spoke, I sensed that Hamilton truly wanted to do one thing: Win a championship as an Angel. In the post-conference meeting with members of the media, Hamilton spoke about being focused on the next 5 years and wanting to win. He was humorous and serious. He had a quick wit, but carried a wisdom that comes from having lived a lot in his 31 years.

Josh Hamilton said it best when he said that he’s “excited about being the old, salty veteran in the outfield—at 31”. His veteran presence, his playoff drive experience, and his potent bat all make him the Angels newest go-to guy in the starting lineup.

But, after listening to the press conference, I can see one more area where Josh Hamilton will be the go-to guy. And that is, that he will fill the void in the clubhouse for quotes and commentary on the game throughout the season. In my mind, he is the Angels’ new go-to guy off the field as much as he is on the field.
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