Josh Hamilton, SBNation and the insincere business-based apology

MLB

How many crackheads just out of rehab do you see the Texas Rangers giving gainful employment? How many cocaine addicted street hookers pimped out by their drug dealers and offering quick services in Lower Manhattan are getting lucrative baseball jobs in an effort to save them? What are the job prospects of a known addict who can’t be trusted to carry cash?

It’s hard for people with these issues to get any kind of a job, let alone one that pays them as well as what Josh Hamilton is paid.

So let’s not act as if the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Rangers or anyone else who’s dealt with Hamilton on a professional basis was indulging in a philanthropic attempt to assist substance abusers. This isn’t a societal cleanup nor is it a selfless attempt to save a life. The Angels gave Hamilton that $125 million contract because they felt they could use his bat and he’d maintain his sobriety. They were wrong. The Rangers took him back for a pittance because they’re a reeling organization, saddled with terrible contracts, and declining fan attendance. Maybe Hamilton can help them with one or all of those problems.

There’s a reason why all of this is happening and it’s not human kindness. He was allowed to nearly toss his career away with drugs and given numerous other chances because of the same gifts that made him the first overall pick by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1999 draft. Whether the self-abuse has finally caught up to him physically is something that will be determined once he’s back on the field, an event that should be coming in the next several weeks. He’s getting chance after chance because he could once hit a baseball nine miles. If that wasn’t the case, his former employers might be willing to help him, but there would be a clear limit to how far they’d go.

While most people in baseball will say they hope for the best for Hamilton, there’s also an undercurrent of head shaking and “you did this to yourself” finger wagging. The political correctness that rules the day will preclude that from being clearly stated by the vast majority, but it’s there.

This leads directly into the deleted blog post by the Halos Heaven blog on SBNation. While the general reaction to the post was that it was heartless and cruel, it’s indicative of the declining level of discourse in our society, the lack of accountability, the fearlessness that comes from (probably) never having to face the people attacked on the internet, and the lack of training as a reporter and its consequences of everyone having a forum and playing “writer.”

The explanation – not an apology – that the author of the original post gave was illuminating as to what led to the post in the first place. It’s not meanness. It’s not a lack of caring. It’s a complete absence of accountability and focus on the self in opposition to providing intelligent foundation for discourse. It was an angry Angels fan who had undoubtedly said equally incendiary things about other subjects in the past but got away with it because there wasn’t the enraged backlash as there was to this last, blaze of glory act that ended up getting him tossed from the site.

Let’s not turn SBNation into a credible news organization. It’s a forum and a niche site with advertising, promotion and significant financial backing. That doesn’t make it credible. We’re not talking about a New York Times or Wall Street Journal editorial. It’s not even a Keith Olbermann Special Comment. It’s a schlock site with a vast proportion of fans who are expressing themselves. Sometimes that will come out as offensive.

There’s an arrogance that comes from public attention and the perception of success regardless of the quality of what’s presented. Those who find themselves getting paid for what these sites truly need – content and web hits – equate paid writing gigs with an ability to write; to analyze; to editorialize; to assess. In today’s world, there’s often not a connection between the two.

Had it not been so fresh an issue and no one paid attention to what was written, then there wouldn’t have been the uproar. They fired the writer. He claims they mutually parted ways. Their version of SBNation’s oversight was to reference the platform’s policies when it comes to content. The reason this happened is, as with most bloggers, there was no actual interaction between the writer and the subject.

Because this was dealt with in a way to assuage the masses who felt that the post was line-crossing, it doesn’t mean that there’s true regret.

Had the percentages been reversed and the public reaction to Hamilton’s relapse been 90 percent as disgusted with him as the Halos Heaven writer was and 10 percent calling for compassion, there would have been applause instead of public shaming and a loss of employment. That’s the reality. The person who ran Halos Heaven was bad for business and that’s why he’s gone. Not due to the Hamilton post. That’s simply a byproduct.

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