What a waste.
Talent. Looks. Money. Success. Family.
Josh Hamilton has had it all. Lost it all. Earn it all back. Then…
A drink. A relapse. A downfall.
Hamilton has battled his demons like he would battle a pitcher. One day at a time, one pitch at a time. It seems that a bottle or a glass of alcohol has become more formidable than a split finger fastball.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ number one overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft seemed to have it all when he was drafted out of high school. A five tool, can’t miss prospect. That is the problem, can’t miss often does.
Not that Hamilton hasn’t enjoyed success. He has. He earned the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Award. He seemingly put his addictions behind him so that he could start to realize his potential when he made his Major League debut in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds. He biggest success has come after his trade to the Texas Rangers. The MVP. The World Series appearances.
The relapses. The first in 2009. Now again just weeks before spring training. Reports have Hamilton falling off the wagon Monday, January 30th in Dallas. He was drinking at Sherlock’s Pub & Grill. Why? No word yet. But does it really matter? No. The fact is an addict is an addict for life. For many, everyday sober is a triumph. For others, everyday is one day closer to losing the battle to stay clean.
I give the Rangers a lot of credit. They were trying to protect their franchise player. They didn’t leave him to look after himself. They assigned him an “accountability partner.” A coach to look after him to assist him to stay on the straight and narrow. The Rangers are looking for an new “AP” for Hamilton since Johnny Narron left the Rangers to join the Brewers as their new hitting coach. Is the search going to be too late?
The outfielder was even banned from baseball for three years from 2003 until 2006 because of his addictions. He was reinstated in part because he agreed to to being tested three times a week. There was the very publicized 2009 incident in Arizona that gained attention and now in 2012, Hamilton’s career is once again in question.
Hamilton is not the first ball player to have addictions. He is not the first to overcome only to fall down. Questions are how he will respond. How will he overcome? Will he overcome? What will Bud Selig do? What will the Rangers do?
The only question that really matters is what will Josh Hamilton do? Baseball is just a game. It was played before him and it will go on without him. Hamilton’s life and family now hangs in the balance. His problems will not fit in his glove. They can’t be put in his locker and forgotten when he laces up his spikes.
Only Hamilton can determine what happens the next time he steps into the batter’s box and takes his cuts. The batter’s box of life, not baseball.