Dear Texas Rangers fans:
Please don't boo Josh Hamilton on Friday, when he returns to Arlington wearing an Anaheim Angels uniform and that "Gee, I'm awesome" smirk.
Don't boo him, even though he tanked in the final few games of last season as your centerfielder, waving at fast balls and gagging on a pop-up many Little Leaguers would consider routine.
Don't boo Josh just because he took the money ($125 million for five years) and ran during the off-season -- to your division rival, no less -- after suggesting he'd give the Rangers a chance to match any offer.
And don't boo him because they're making a movie about his life and he's only 31. Or because his story of redemption and recovery has been told so many times it barely registers on your EKG anymore.
Don't boo Josh because he took pot shots at DFW, saying it isn't a baseball town and labeling anyone who would dare boo him when he returned not a "true fan."
It is your inalienable right as a sports fan to boo. Sometimes you simply can't contain your passion or disgust. And, I admit, there's a cathartic feeling that comes with adding your voice to a chorus of disapproval so loud it vibrates the stadium seats.
There's just one big problem with booing (and you'll see it when, mid-boo, you look over at that 8-year-old boy in a Rangers jersey or that 6-year-old girl who brought her glove to her first game and realize what you're teaching them):
Sportsmanship is already on the endangered species list in pro sports. Don't push it one step closer toward extinction on account of Josh Hamilton. Trust me, if he's even an ounce as devout as he claims to be, he already knows he didn't behave honorably his last few months here.
So rather than booing Hamilton on Friday, here's one thing you could do:
Cheer for the home team extra hard, because it is still filled with dedicated and talented players, like Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre. And after last season's late collapse and playoff disappointment, they could use it.
Cheer for Derek Holland, the young pitcher who is slated to start Friday and who has shown flashes of brilliance. He needs that extra shot of adrenaline against a murderers' row of hitters like the Angels.
And, if you're feeling especially charitable, you could applaud for Hamilton because, despite how you might feel about him now, he was a vital part of the past three seasons of baseball bliss in Arlington. Three straight playoff appearances and two World Series for a franchise that had never won a playoff series -- none of that happened without him.
Or you could do something that would shock even Josh Hamilton:
Stay completely silent when he comes to the plate for the first time as an Angel. Not one sound. (There's a movement called Silence4Josh that was started by Brandon Holmes, a 15-year-old from Arlington, in February. It has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and T-shirts!)
Imagine how unnerving that would be for an opposing player. How it might give him a moment to reflect on his final days in a Texas uniform, and how he could have displayed better sportsmanship. How he should probably just stay quiet himself now that he has left town.
Think about it, Rangers fans.
Pure silence would speak more loudly than any full-throated boo ever could.