Tag Archives: Texas Rangers

Baseball a Clean Slate for Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is knocking the hell out of the ball again.  That’s not news to anybody though – every educated baseball fan knows that he is among the elite hitters in the league right now.  Over this past offseason, a story broke that Hamilton “relapsed” when he went out for a drink at a bar with a family member in February.

This isn’t news either – or at least it shouldn’t be.

The big sources that people go to for sports news (ESPN, Fox Sports) tend to ride the same story as long as they can squeeze something juicy out of it.  The examples are plentiful: Tiger Woods and his infidelity, Tim Tebow and his faith, Alex Rodriguez and his steroid use.  There is nothing wrong with milking a story for all its worth, but sometimes the media goes too far.  It’s not hard to see how some reporters twist and bend stories to their liking, usually because they try to either glorify or demonize someone.  What other explanation is there for a man as genuine as Tim Tebow receiving so much hate, or Ozzie Guillen’s press conferences being laughed at like dirty jokes from a stand-up comic?

I should have known that the media would take a similar approach with Hamilton.  Two years ago, he was the feel-good story of the MLB.  He had managed to control his addiction to alcohol and numerous drugs through his faith.  He even published an autobiography, titled “Beyond Belief” which goes into detail about his struggle with addiction and how he has learned to overcome it.  He was the classic darling who overcame a troubled past, and went on to have great success.  The thing is, his story is incredible enough without knowing the terrible details of his darker days.

As soon as he was able to play in the MLB in 2007, he had immediate success.  He batted .292 in his rookie year as a Cincinnati Red, then went on to Texas where he made the All Star Game four times in four years.  In 2010, he hit .359 with 32 home runs, which was enough to earn him the AL MVP.

Through 21 games this year, Hamilton already has 9 home runs and is hitting .388.  Of course the season is in diapers, but those numbers show that he is still among the elite sluggers of the MLB and this most recent “relapse” is really nothing to worry about.  I understand that Josh Hamilton went through some really dark times and they are nothing to joke about, but if he chooses to go out for a drink with some family and it doesn’t escalate any further than that, I don’t see what the big deal is.

I think now we should start viewing him as a great baseball player first, and a recovering addict second.  In my eyes, the “incident” this February was not an incident at all, and has nothing to do with his career as a professional baseball player.  People need to give credit where credit is due and recognize him as a great baseball player instead of a tortured soul.  He has already gotten himself out of that hole and to me, he has proven that we should all stop expecting that he’ll fall back in it.