My take on Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton at batI’ve been meaning to write about Josh Hamilton for a while now.  I haven’t touched on it because it’s a very sensitive subject.  It deals with addiction.  It deals with unfulfilled potential.  It deals with money, lots of it.  And it deals with death.

Here’s what I know about Josh Hamilton.  He was once one of baseball’s top prospects, a player that was supposed to change the game.  He won the AL MVP in 2010, a year in which he made $3.25 mil.  He would go on to make $56 million over the next four.

Josh Hamilton also likes to party.  Not clubbin’ Rob Gronkowski kind of party but Joshie has a weakness for the powder… and the booze.  Hamilton has been suspended numerous times for alcohol and cocaine use.  He’s no Steve Howe but he’s getting darn close.

Hamilton’s continued relapses prove he has yet to find the right type of assistance, the assistance that comes from within, the will power to find his own Josh Hamilton 2.0.

At one point in his career, not all that long ago, it seemed like he was close to recovery.  He gave interviews attesting to his sobriety.  He seemed focused, his baseball game had returned.  He then reverted back to his weaker ways.

Hamilton dugoutAnd yet all anyone can talk about these days is which team, the Angels or the Rangers, got the better end of his recent trade, the Rangers for acquiring him or the Angels for letting him go.  It’s as if his health matters for naught.

The point here, it would seem to me, is not to recover Josh Hamilton the successful baseball player but rather Josh Hamilton the clean, drug and demon-free human being.  Who gives a flying fuck about the Rangers or Angels?

We tend to forget these people are kids sometimes.  Josh Hamilton just turned 34 but has struggled with cocaine use since his early 20s, perhaps even earlier.

For me, and I could very well be wrong here, but it seems like he was on the path to recovery when something happened that would throw anyone for a loop.

Rangers fan statueJosh Hamilton inadvertently killed a fan.  Call it what you want but Josh Hamilton was directly responsible for the death of another and it was all an accident.  Why don’t we talk about this more and the effect this had on his psyche?   In a one in a billion chance, Hamilton tossed a ball to a boy and his father in the stands.  The ball failed to reach them, falling just outside their grasp.  The father reached for the ball and fell over the railing to his eventual death.  This was in 2011.  The Rangers have since erected a statue in the man’s honor.

Hamilton was the athlete least equipped to handle that sort of drama.  On top of his addiction, every day he has to live with that fact, something he thought would bring joy to a fan brought absolute misery.  Imagine having to trot out to leftfield every night with that image in your head, passing that very location where your life changed forever and another one ended.  How does one live with that?  How does one find the strength to carry on?

We tend to get caught up sometimes in highlights and home runs, losing sight of what’s important.  There are more important things in life than baseball or the value of a trade.  Ultimately, Josh Hamilton is the only person who can choose whether he succeeds or fails, not as a baseball player but as a human being.

Which team he plays for is of minimal importance.  We must never lose sight of that.

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34 Replies to “My take on Josh Hamilton”

  1. Great point Chump! I remember when he tossed the ball. Sad thing for anybody, much less Josh Hamilton to have to endure.

  2. What’s the addiction of Josh Hamilton ? The fact he’s earned over $45 million over the course of his career and then pi#sed away all of the goodwill and apportioned blame elsewhere because he can’t handle his alleged demons even when he’s been provided all of the help from so many resources . He’s now blaming his ex wife , Arte Moreno ( owner of the Angels) and his former closest confidante for the fact he chose to do crack cocaine and alcohol while in rehab.

    Now you have a dumb #ss arbitrator stating he doesn’t believe the player violated any part of his rehab having admitted his use of a banned substance under the league’s policy . And you wonder why baseball is such a $$$ked up sport with a complete lack of leadership all-round ?

    The Lightning were #iss poor last night and now they go into Madison Square Garden having to win a game seven that might not favor them in spite of Stamkos claiming they’re better on the road than at home during the playoffs .

  3. I can’t even imagine that, D.

    It’d be like returning to the scene of the crime nine times a day, every day.

    This is something he did to help out a fan that went totally awry.

    Heartbreaking story.

    And we wonder why the guy continues to struggle with addiction.

  4. Absolutely the worst possible athlete for that dad-son tragedy to happen to if he is indeed as fragile as he appears to be. Rooting for him to pull it together for good and perhaps he’s back where he never should have left. Or…never should have returned.

  5. josh’s failures [based on his past] were so predictable that would have been a surprise had he not relapsed
    so while [in the past] i’ve been quick to point out his flaws, there are others who are as [if not, more] culpable
    where the fuck were his friends, teammates, organization(s)?
    you knew he was a ticking time bomb and you — all of you — allowed it to recur
    shame on you
    and shame on arte moreno…
    you were all lovey-dovey with him when you thought you were signing an mvp-type player to your pathetic second-rate team
    but the minute he suffers personal demons, you jump on the bash-josh bandwagon and then cast him off like he’s some type of pariah
    what kind of message does that send to his [now-former] teammates and the fans?
    but i digress
    josh needs help
    the kind of help that one cannot acquire away from home and his [real] family 162+ days plus spring
    and while i sympathize with him, i also find it hard to jump on the josh pity party bandwagon
    alcohol/drug addiction is an illness, but a self-inflicted one
    whereas you choose to drink/snort/smoke/shoot, a disease like cancer chooses you
    so all i can do is wish josh the best [personally before professionally] and hope those who surround him can do a better job

    good luck josh, you’ll apparently need it

  6. There was talk, Burnsy, albeit among us locals, about the possibilities of bringing him back here to Tampa, where it all started.

    After all, we were the team who drafted him.

    Of course that would mean two things the Rays don’t do: pay a lot for a player and have a power hitter in their line-up.

    Either way, I couldn’t help but wonder if a change of scenery would do the guy good.

  7. Yes, yes and yes, Irish… BUT

    Ultimately the responsibility to take care of himself, to stop using, lies on him. He can have all the assistance and therapy in the world (God knows his therapist is putting in overtime) but if he’s not committed, then all that help won’t matter a bit.

  8. SC – you have hit a hot button for me. For years, I drank like a fish at night but always kept my shit together (work, family, etc). I always thought that a guy should should be able to control his bad habits. Finally, the addiction took over – with help from my co-workers and family, I came clean. Now, a few years later, I’m still struggling daily with alcohol addiction. I’m not a tee-totaler (is that how you spell it?) but try to keep it under control. I now have empathy for guys that struggle with it. Millionaire or not, it’s a tough road every day. Not saying Hamilton should get a pass, just saying that I understand it.

  9. Apparently he has yet to hit bottom. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll end up killing himself before he does. Sometimes bad things happen the result of good intentions—tossing a kid a baseball—and sometimes we bring on bad things ourselves with the choices we make.

    It’s a cold person who points at Hamilton’s financial well-being and can’t sympathize. He’s an adult playing a kid’s game. Some people deal well with success; others… well, how many people win the mega millions and you read about them five years later, dead broke?

    A local newscaster here in Detroit was in and out of rehab for years for alcoholism. Even the death of his daughter at the hands of a drunk driver wasn’t enough to detour him from his bottle abuse—or maybe that was the cause. But the TV station for whom he worked enabled him, always welcomed him back, and viewers tuned in just to hear what he had to say.

    One day Hamilton’s career will end, the cheering will stop, and the autograph seekers will stop seeking his signature. Someone somewhere along the line failed to teach him that.

    My dad used to tell me, “You live only once, and I don’t think you’re going to make it.” Truer words, although tongue in cheek, were never spoken. No one gets out of this life alive. My dad sure didn’t. And neither will Josh Hamilton.

  10. How deeper can it go Chris ? The same problems Josh Hamilton , had as a player with the Rays, he carried with him to the Rangers where his then manager Ron Washington had the same damn problem. Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels aided him as much as he could but in the end they had enough .

    Now come full circle and Hamilton has the temerity to state Arte Moreno ( Angels’ owner) would not come out and support him . What sort of ##cking as#hole is Josh Hamilton to begin with , other than being a weak- minded cretin and an ignorant @ss ? He blames everyone but himself for his self destruction , even his now ex-wife , who had to put up with frigging bull#hit . Anyone pitying this moron (Hamilton) has to be out of their mind .

    Explain to me, how the arbitrator who upheld his reinstatement doesn’t believe the player didn’t contravene the league’s drug policy when Josh Hamilton freely admitted he used crack cocaine and alcohol while in rehab ?

    Baseball is being ran by a bunch of imbeciles and the fans through their ongoing apathy , are still buying into their (MLB hierarchy) bull#hit . Rob Manfred is no different from his predecessor Bud Selig .

  11. He looked disinterested the the last few years versus lefties. Scioscia placed him well last year versus ‘not so nasty’ lefties. His K record was almost 35%(12,13,14) in that split. That and fan grumblings mighta helped push him under.
    For the first few years after quittiing smoking, I subconsciously was looking for an excuse to get “off of the wagon.” Thankfully, 30 years later I never found one. Norwood ‘wide right’ almost did it.

  12. addiction is all about a lack of self-control so it comes with the territory
    you can view it as selfish, but it’s more about dependency
    if i choose to take a drink, smoke a joint, snort coke, whatever… it’s on me
    but once the chemical dependency kicks in, the user is no longer in control
    how can someone commit to something when they themselves cannot control their cravings?
    common sense and moral obligations go out the window
    funny because i never used to buy addiction being an illness
    but being psych major in college exposed me to a lot of things and altered my perspective
    these people need help
    if i were josh’s employer i would have someone watching him 24/7
    he needs help

  13. Josh was the number one high school player in 1999. A five star outfielder and a pitcher with 95 mph gas. He played for the class A Riverdogs here in Charleston in 2000.
    That’s where he got a taste of the party life,,, a teenage millionaire with plenty of time on his hands in a party town.
    This is where it’s easy for those of us that can handle our demons to call addicts like Josh weak or stupid. Not everyone is wired alike. For everyone of us that knows we have to go to work tomorrow, pay bills, care for loved ones, there are just as many that aren’t wired like that, They have their next high on their mind all the time, until they get it. They seem to have no sense of shame or remorse after a binge, and continue planning until they get the next high.
    No one chooses to continue living like that … if they had a choice. Not that I feel sorry for Josh, or friends and relatives of mine who are addicted, I know the grip on them is too strong, and it’s impossible for some folks to quit. I’m just saying that it’s easy for us to tell them “just quit”, It’s just not that easy for them.

  14. Conrad / Irish / Hanahan – don’t know you guys, but in general agree with all of you. You guys obviously get it. I even have to agree (a little) with tophatal; even though he’s a little harsh, he’s right in that a person with with an addiction problem can’t be blaming others for his shortcomings. SC – I know this is a sports blog specifically, but I appreciate the fact that you bring up the bigger point of life itself.Glad I found your site – (no bromance though). One of these days I need to get down there and meet you.

  15. I hadn’t heard about the baseball tossing incident…Sad….And yes, addiction is rough, I have family members that would make Jerry Springer blush…But man, you’d think if anything could straighten someone out, it’s that kind of cash…I know that it just makes getting the drugs that much easier on one hand, but it opens up so many other avenues that could serve as an alternative to getting high.

    Easy for me to say, I’m not addicted…But I do partake in my share of alcohol and other “medicinal” indulgences on the regular…But I’d give up both in a heartbeat for anywhere near what he makes.

    I would imagine the ball tossing thing haunts him….And yes, it’s not like he can escape it…He has to play there, making it that much harder to move on. Kind a catch 22…Like an obese person trying to lose weight…They can’t quit eating or they die. I always felt quitting drugs or whatever vice someone has would be easier than dieting because food is essential to life.

    No easy answer.
    It’s up to Josh to either swim or sink.
    I hope he swims.

  16. Moose…

    I knew we had more than just being sports fans as common.

    Ya know, we tend to judge athletes for their actions yet rarely do we put ourselves in their shoes.

    If I were a multi-millionaire star athlete at a young age, I’d be banging everything that moves and hitting every bar in town. Heck, I did that anyway.

    Now that Hamilton’s getting a little longer in the tooth, we’ll see if he’s able to pull things together and realize what’s important, mainly his health. Without that, he’s got nothing.

  17. Poignant stuff, Conrad.

    I’m not sure what else to add to that.

    I’m wondering whether the higher they get (riches, fame, etc.) whether the bottoms are that much lower.

    Sure seems like a long way to fall.

    But heck, either way, bottom is bottom. It all depends on how we climb out of it.

  18. I haven’t heard a Hamilton soundbite, Al, but if he’s pointing the finger at others for his addiction then he’s nowhere close to getting better.

    And that’s on him.

  19. Miguel Cabrera had some off the field issues a few years ago, with drinking. The Tigers organization think of their players as family, and they gave him all the help he needed and he’s straightened himself out, become a daddy and a family man. BUT—the player has to want to be helped. You walk a fine line between enabling the behavior and providing the “tough love” that’s needed.

    Someone in this stringed berated some of our comments for “pitying” Hamilton. I don’t pity him, and there’s a big difference between pity and empathy. He lives in a different world than the rest of us working grunts; yes, he has the money to get the help he needs, but he also lives a lifestyle that makes it easy for him to fail. All the help in the world can help someone with a destructive personality.

    He may eventually destroy his career. If that happens he’ll be left to wonder, “What if?”

  20. Look at Irish going back to his college days. You remember that far back? ZING!

    It’s okay, I’m not so sure I do either.

    You’re right about the franchises having someone watch over Hamilton but ya’ know what? They can’t sleep with the guy. They’re not gonna live with him. I get that a babysitter might be in order to protect a) him and b) their investment but ultimately, the guy needs to man up and again, put things in perspective.

    That means HIM taking care of HIMself.

  21. I can attest to Charleston being a party town, Han.

    I spent a night there and ended up sleeping in my car.

    Great culture though. One of America’s great southern towns.

    And poignant comments from all you guys. All very thoughtful stuff.

    I guess I should stop writing about hookers so much.

  22. Moose…

    I think you’ll find the community here, with a few (Ahem Al) exceptions to be pretty true to themselves, opinionated but fair, argumentative at times but always in a constructive way.

    Plus you can’t beat the cover charge.

    That’s just one more thing I love about the site.

    In Josh Hamilton’s case, all I had heard was about the trade and who got the better of it, nothing about the man’s well-being.

    It’s easy for us to lose sight of our priorities. It’s also pretty easy for us to bring them back into check if we just try.

  23. Bleed…

    I’m surprised you hadn’t heard of it. It was pretty gruesome. You can look it up on youtube but I don’t recommend it. Nor for one minute did I think about putting the link up on the site.

    It’s not a guilt I’ve ever want to live with. I mean the guy was doing something out of the kindness of his heart.

    Anyway, we’ll see how Josh fares from here on out. He has the financial means to seek help. Does he have the inner strength.

  24. Yeah, Conrad, I didn’t get the sense that any of us felt sorry for Hamilton in our comments. We just wanted what’s best for him, as we would anyone with a problem.

    I just finished reading Canseco’s second book, “Vindicated.” Review to follow soon. It actually surprised me to read that he never really drank. Of course. he was into the needle and into taking care of his body… as much as steroids do that.

    Booze was always my weakness. I couldn’t say whether, hypothetically speaking of course, I’d party like some of those guys do. I would imagine the temptation out there is pretty strong.

    Josh is either going to get better or he won’t. And that’s on him.

  25. agreed josh needs to take care of himself
    just not sure he (and/or most addicts) are capable of that
    being an mlb player — away from family on the road — is a less than ideal scenario for someone trying to stay clean

    and yes i do remember college… somewhat

  26. Irish…

    I would imagine each franchise has therapists on staff or hey, it’s not like these guys can’t afford one on their own.

    And where’d you go to school, I?

  27. “They can’t sleep with the guy. ” Really? Am I so out of touch that I think ballplayers still sleep two to a room while on the road?

    No, addicts are incapable of caring for themselves, Irish. You don’t take an alcoholic into a pub and say, “Watch me drink.” That’s why they have support groups—there is strength in numbers, in understanding that you are not alone, at least that’s my understanding.

    Either Hamilton doesn’t think he has an issue; i.e., he hasn’t yet hit bottom, or he figures he can do it by himself. Either way, he is only compounding his issue.

  28. Hell, I’d pay to type back & forth with reasonable people about reasonable thoughts on real subjects (don’t get any ideas about making this a paid site please!). Different thread topic altogether, but who thinks Thibs was wrong in his approach and who thinks Reinsdorf is an idiot (albeit a rich one). I’ve never liked Reinsdorf – he’s strong-armed a lot of people over the years. Probably never going to get a consensus on this one.

  29. If you didn’t see his interview after his trade back to the Texas Rangers then it’s no use asking what Hamilton is actually about, much less making excuses for his ###cking dumb @ss .

    Off the beaten path , you wanted to know my thoughts on FIFA ? Consider the following . Over 1.000 construction workers have died in the building of the venues for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar , with neither the country or FIFA, as the governing body of international soccer , seeking to address the issue worker safety . Of the estimated deaths many of those killed were Nepalese workers . Now consider the this also, Qatar’s government refused many of the Nepalese workers, the chance to return to their home country to aid in the humanitarian efforts after the recent earthquakes there.

    Sepp Blatter , the recently reelected FIFA President has repeatedly refused to address the claims that soccer’s governing body in conjunction with the Qatar government . instigated the action along with not paying any benefits to the families of the dead workers.

    The US Justice Dept for its part remains a goddamn joke . They’re going after a sports’ marketing company based in Miami xr used by FIFA as a slush fund for bribes, but they can’t go after any major banking executive who fu#cked over the US after the most recent financial meltdown within the financial industry ____ leading to billions being doled out in taxpayers’ monies ? Where are the @@@king priorities of the US government Chris, especially with this lame @ss President and within the Justice Dept ?

  30. Conrad…

    I remember the story of JR Richard, that old Houston Astros pitcher.

    I had his baseball cards. Everyone did.

    Then I read that the guy was living under a freeway homeless.

    I was still young and though to myself, how the hell does this happen to a player. A guy makes millions and loses it all for one reason or another.

    Well, it does. Like I said, it’s a long way to fall.

  31. Moose…

    SportsChump will always be free and accessible, not to worry.

    Re: Thibodeau, I read there were Bulls players kicking him on his way out the door, not sure which ones they were though. I have a feeling they’ll rue the day they got rid of him.

    What’s Hoiberg bringing to the table that Thibs didn’t? More lax practices? Good luck with that.

    There was a time when Thibs was tied for the greatest all-time coaching record. That’s winning ballgames. What exactly is it that they want in Chicago?

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