Josh Hamilton and Accountability

Josh Hamilton has a new “accountability partner”.

Let’s call a thing what it is and say that the “accountability partner” is a babysitter.

You can read about the new hire, Shayne Kelly, here on FS Southwest.

Accountability and the Rangers attempts to keep Hamilton straight are fine, but it works both ways. Without getting into an armchair psychoanalysis of a supremely talented athlete who’s had problems with addiction, let’s stick to fact: Hamilton can’t be trusted.

Hamilton is a free agent at the end of the 2012 season and his representatives have alluded to the Prince Fielder contract as a comparable number for what Hamilton is going to want.

Whether or not you believe that Hamilton’s two public falls off the wagon—one in 2009 and the other last week—were isolated incidents (and I don’t), Hamilton is a person who needs to have someone watch him. Does that make Hamilton a player and person to whom you’d give $200 million? $100 million? Any long term contract at all?

Even if he lived his off-field life like Dale Murphy, Hamilton’s home/road splits and frequent injuries would make him a risk to give a massive contract on the Fielder scale. As a former addict, he’s a definite “no” for such a contract.

If Hamilton is truly committed to sobriety, then he needs to have true accountability. The Rangers want to keep him, but aren’t going to give him the money he wants. Some owner might. But if Hamilton were willing to put his paycheck on the line in the interests of consequences, he could either take a shorter-term deal of 3-years, $60 million or have language inserted into the contract that if he’s caught drinking or using drugs, the Rangers have a right to void the deal immediately.

It’s fine that he has a new “accountability partner” to go along with his devotion to God, but if his demons still call to him and draw him back into his cycle of addiction, apology, religion and back again, then the Rangers—or any team—has to have the legal right to say they’re not paying him.

Checkbook accountability is a strong motivator and forgive me if I sound cynical when I say I wouldn’t give someone with Hamilton’s history a guaranteed payday of nine figures no matter what he does. He’s repeatedly proven that he can’t be trusted and an accountability partner, babysitter, Jesus or whoever aren’t going to change that.

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  1. #1 by John on February 11, 2012 - 4:04 pm

    Josh Hamilton is like many around the world, he is an addict. He will live with this the rest of his life as you are never truly cured of your addiction. However, there is something which makes him different than others and it isn’t his talent, he has admitted his addiction and is seeking help. How many in baseball and out are functional addicts who go about thier daily lives without our ever knowing. I remember the old stories about George Brett and how he would party all night and would still go 3 for 5 the next day. The thing is that today, Josh Hamilton may be able to drink and still play although that is seriously debatable. He really had issues with illegal drugs and it is difficult to smoke crack and do anything well. However, his accountability partner or what most addicts would call their sponser as in AA, is there to help him lead a completely clean and sober life. While you and I may have a drink after a long day or grab a beer with our wings while out with friends to unwind, Josh Hamilton can’t. He must rely on a much more complex system to help him unwind. I don’t actually think this makes him a less reliable player. In fact, he has a support system in place which some many could actually enhance his value. He won’t have the up and down days from a long night out trolling for women on the road or entertaining an enterouge. Like you said, I would be more worried about his eye and home/road split much more than his occassional drop off the wagon. Between his sponsor and MLB testing him, any slip will be caught long and before it becomes a problem. To end, I wouldn’t compromise my contract if I were Josh Hamilton. He is worth what he is worth warts and all. At least his warts are on the outside rather than hidden and covered up by his former team, friends and MLB so they can keep his image up. I would rather get a good player who is working on his issues than one who is in denial and may blow up halfway through their contract. Most addicts drink and do drugs for a reason. For every Josh Hamilton who was able to play after stopping, there are a dozen Darryl Strawberry’s, Lonnie Smith’s and Dwight Gooden’s who couldn’t beat their addiction and couldn’t play well when trying to face their demons and not on drugs. Good luck to Josh Hamilton not just in baseball as he has made more money than I ever will, but good luck to him in life. I hope that people don’t hold his addiction and recovery against him as he moves forward.

    Sincerely,

    John Daniels

    • #2 by admin on February 11, 2012 - 7:27 pm

      Some excellent points in here.
      I sense similarities between Hamilton and Mike Tyson when Tyson was in his heyday as a bankable, cross-cultural star—an extreme rarity in boxing at the time—Tyson was being asked for autographs by the same cops that would harass him before he was famous just because he looked like he was up to no good. (And he probably was, but that’s beside the point.)
      Hamilton, if he were just a “guy” who didn’t have the talent he had, would either be dead or in jail.
      The George Brett reference isn’t out of line either, but if Hamilton was just a partyer, drinker and perhaps indulged in pills and some coke once in a while, it would be winked and nodded at in the masculine world of boys being boys. But because he used crack, the stigma with that is so heinous that it will always hover around him. I think of the line in the Tim Robbins film Bob Roberts where he’s an amoral political figure who says, “Be good in school and don’t do crack, it’s a ghetto drug.”
      Not to be an amateur psychologist, Hamilton’s drinking doesn’t appear to be an “unwinding” type of deal. He does it when he’s in need of attention or as a method of self-sabotage and it’s that type of personality quirk that led him to using drugs in the first place.
      He does seem to be a nice, good-hearted person who’s had some problems with addiction; but for his reps to be implying that they want a Prince Fielder-level contract considering Hamilton’s past is beyond the scope of outrageous even for a sports agent.
      I don’t, under any circumstances, think his addiction should be held against him forever and as a matter of course; it needs to be a part of the decision on how much money to give him, for how long and what the parameters are. He needs to be watched and decide on his own that he’s going to stay straight. The accountability partner is necessary, but from the outside, he appears to be using it as a crutch.
      It’s on Hamilton to steer clear of situations that lead him to drink and not Shayne Kelly, Johnny Narron or anyone else can stop him if he truly decides to go down that road again.

  2. #3 by DirtyWater on February 11, 2012 - 9:10 pm

    How come everyones willing to beat up on Hamilton who obviously has a problem but no one seems to talk about Kinsler who was in the bar with him.

    That kind of team support he doesn’t need.

    • #4 by admin on February 12, 2012 - 2:46 pm

      It’s hard to go to a restaurant that doesn’t have a bar. Kinsler can’t be blamed for that.

      • #5 by DirtyWater on February 13, 2012 - 10:08 am

        How hard is it to know your teamate has a problem with bars?…maybe less hard to find a restaurant without a bar than to find a new teammate with Hamilton’s high end.

      • #6 by admin on February 13, 2012 - 2:56 pm

        If Hamilton had his heart set on drinking, there’s nothing Kinsler or anyone else could do to stop him.

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