I watched that game. It was an amazing game. And when Josh Hamilton came to the plate for his final at bat, having blasted three homers and a double earlier in the day, I knew -- I knew -- he was going to take Darren O'Day deep.
That game was probably the pinnacle of the Josh Hamilton experience in Texas. I remember afterwards Twitter blowing up, LSB blowing up, people saying, how can the Rangers not give him whatever it takes to sign him? How can they even risk letting him become a free agent, when someone might give him $200M plus?
After that game, Josh was hitting .406/.458/.840 on the year, and there was serious talk about him winning the Triple Crown in 2012. I seem to recall a poll on ESPN.com, where the majority of respondents said they thought Hamilton would win the Triple Crown. It makes what Miguel Cabrera did in winning the Triple Crown last year all the more amazing when you realize that, in May, it was seemingly being ceded to Hamilton.
After winning that game against Baltimore, 10-3, the Rangers were 20-10 on the year (they are, as a point of reference, 20-13 right now). People were comparing Texas to the 1998 Yankees, talking about how this was the most talented team in baseball, a team that could go down in the history books.
Well, we all know what happened after that. The 2012 Rangers went down in the history books, but for having one of the biggest collapses in MLB history. And Josh Hamilton was front and center in that collapse...by season's end, all the goodwill he had generated, that high the fans had, not just for the four homer game, but everything he had down in his five years in Texas, had evaporated.
Hamilton is gone from Texas now...he has signed with Anaheim, and with his comments in the offseason and early this year, seems to have burned his bridges. Hamilton is now the enemy, and given how he's started the 2013 season, I think most of us as Rangers fans are glad he's gone elsewhere.
But that doesn't change the fact that he did some great things in a Ranger uniform. And May 8, 2012, one year ago today, was a game I'll never forget because of him.