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Photo: The 10-point buck hanging above Josh Hamilton's locker

Big League Stew

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Josh Hamilton(notes) had a 10-point buck installed above his locker in June, but it wasn't until Friday that I finally came across the photographic evidence posted above.

Now that you've seen it too, I probably don't need to tell you that it. is. absolutely. awesome. Honestly, we might be looking at the best locker-room fixture since Matt Holliday(notes) told me there was a RBI Baseball arcade game in the visitor's clubhouse at Dodger Stadium.

So what's the story and meaning behind Hamilton decorating his locker like a lodge in the forest? Well, the Texas Rangers MVP candidate bagged that once-proud fella on a hunt last November. It's also the main symbol of the "Claws and Antlers" craze that's sweeping Dallas as the Rangers march toward their first postseason appearance since 1999. Players have been flashing "claw" and "antler" signs in support of each other for most of the season and the fans have joined in the fun as the AL West title has drawn closer.

The Associated Press explains further:

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The claw symbolizes a good play. The antlers represent speed (think "run like a deer," a phrase used often by Hamilton and Cruz over the last couple of years when they talked about fast players or hustling plays.)

Utility infielder Esteban German(notes) was familiar with the claw from the Dominican Winter League and initially tried to introduce it to the Rangers during spring training in 2009. It didn't really catch on.

"But this year I tried it again. Most of the guys knew me so when we did something good, we did it. And we continued to do it," German said.

"Now it's at a point everybody kind of looks forward to doing it," Michael Young(notes) said. "Our team has always done something like this, but this thing is probably the one where the public has gotten to see it more often. ... Mostly it's about us and trying to find a way to pull for our teammates."

So are we looking at the "Cowboy Up"- or "Idiots"-type gimmick of the 2010 postseason?

Time will tell, though all the taxidermy in Texas won't mean a thing if Josh Hamilton can't return with a healthy rib cage by the time the playoffs begin. (No, don't listen to the balloonheads who are actually asking if losing Hamilton was just what the Rangers needed for this seven-game winning streak they're currently enjoying.)

[Photos: The man behind the antler craze, Josh Hamilton]

At any rate, it's nice to see Rangers fans getting ready and excited for some meaningful baseball during Cowboys season, even if this picture below makes me think all of these kids are headed to Wally World. ("Sorry folks, the moose out front shoulda toldja.")

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