Josh Hamilton and Accountability

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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.


Did the Devil Make Josh Hamilton Drink?

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Not only has Josh Hamilton’s fall from the wagon into drinking fueled sadness, it’s also spurred horrific, intentionally sappy and outright bad writing.

Stuff like “Hamilton faltered in his quest to stay sober” and references to “the reemergence of Hamilton’s demons” make it sound like it’s not his fault that he started drinking—where he had to know he’d get caught—again.

Whose fault is it then?

Jesus saved him, is it the Devil who sent Hamilton into that bar and tempted him with alcohol?

Don’t go to bars. It’s not difficult.

On one side we have the hard-liners who talk of personal responsibility and for whom one strike is out. On the other, there are the excuse-makers who are calling Hamilton’s drinking a disease. In the middle there are those who couldn’t care less about Josh Hamilton and are using this opportunity to say, “look what great writers we are” when they’re anything but.

I don’t want to hear or read it.

Hamilton is an addict. Addicts are self-destructive. It’s not my responsibility to reason why. It just is. For a player who almost ruined his life and career and resurrected it into becoming an MVP and inspiration because of his recovery, Hamilton has been remarkably conscious of his image. He’s used his Christianity as a shield to protect himself from his stumbles and his “recovery” as the basis to spread the gospel and have books ghostwritten to tell his story while presenting himself as a beacon of what’s possible.

Now the departure from the Rangers’ organization of his longtime friend and sponsor Johnny Narron was mentioned—not overtly blamed, but mentioned—as part of Hamilton’s fall off the wagon.

Don’t blame Narron; don’t blame demons; don’t blame alcohol; don’t blame anyone other than Josh Hamilton because that’s where the responsibility lies.

Who knows how often Hamilton has imbibed privately? What are the odds that he’s still doing things he shouldn’t be doing and has been feted for overcoming?

I’d be shocked if he hasn’t been smoking pot and drinking privately.

I’d be shocked if the Rangers didn’t know about it.

It’s in the realm of absurdity as “Ron Washington only used cocaine that one time” to think that Hamilton’s drinking episodes were limited to 2009 when he was photographed partying with girls in an Arizona bar and this latest incident.

You can believe it or not believe it, but think logically for a second.

It’s preposterous.

Hamilton is a free agent at the end of the year and if he didn’t have this history, he’d be in line for a contract that probably wouldn’t reach the numbers of Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, but would be similar to what Jayson Werth got from the Nationals a year ago.

Now the Rangers would be stupid to even engage in extension talks with him, let alone hand him a guaranteed $120+ million.

Regardless of the smug, self-indulgent phrase-turns of the mainstream media, it’s not a story of triumph, tragedy or a life lesson in adversity.

He shouldn’t drink and he drank. He did so publicly.

I’m more offended than sad that someone of Hamilton’s natural talent is wasting it, but that’s secondary to reality.

He’s someone who should not have been in a bar in the first place, still has major issues and is a split-second away from reverting to his prior addictions.

He has no one to blame but himself. Not Jesus; not the Devil; not Johnny Narron; not anyone other than Josh Hamilton.

If teams are smart, they’ll steer clear of any long-term commitment to him because he can’t be trusted.

That’s not cynicism. That’s truth. Believe it or don’t.


Josh Hamilton’s Divine Intervention

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Josh Hamilton once needed a drug and alcohol intervention.

That’s been changed to divine intervention.

The quotes from Hamilton were as follows:

“He said, ‘You haven’t hit one in a while and this is the time you’re going to,'”

The “He” Hamilton was referring to was God; and what He told Hamilton was that he was going to hit a home run in the top of the 10th inning of game 6 of the World Series.

Hamilton did.

Then the Rangers lost the game in 11 innings.

And Hamilton added the caveat that God didn’t specifically tell him that the Rangers were going to win the game, just that he was going to hit a homer.

Um. Okay.

I’m not going to get into a Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens-style rant against religion, but I’m curious of the reaction had Hamilton said something to the tune of “I kept this to myself, but Santa Claus told me last Christmas that I was gonna hit a homer in game 6 of the World Series in 2011, and I did.”

Would people have taken this revelation as seriously as they did his validation from the “real” Almighty?

Or would they have wondered whether he’d either fallen off the wagon or the drugs that nearly ruined his career had sabotaged his brain into a state of delusion for which he should be locked up?

Even for those who don’t take the tenets of religion—any religion—literally, does anyone really believe that God whispered to Hamilton that he was going to hit a home run? If he’s up there, wouldn’t God have things on his mind other than Hamilton and the Texas Rangers?

The entire Middle East is imploding; the United States is broke and embroiled in two ground wars; Thailand is almost underwater; and Turkey just had a massive earthquake, but it’s okay because God is going to take care of it all as soon as he finishes watching the World Series.

If it were my alternate universe and Hamilton was referring to Santa, what kind of jokes would be made at his expense?

But because it’s an uplifting story of someone who overcame demons that almost destroyed his life; one who recovered his one-in-a-million talent and has fulfilled it and more, it’s okay to utter such objective lunacy to the public and not be ridiculed. Since so many others believe (or say they believe) and it’s something he clings to to keep him sober and sane, then it’s okay to engage in this type of fantasy.

I’m not anti-religion. I’m not bothered one way or the other if someone believes; I understand the need for community, charity, connection with something bigger than the self; I’m for anything that keeps the masses under some semblance of control. If there wasn’t religion, people would find some other security blanket to cling to—or other reasons to kill each other. But when the entire roster of candidates for President of the United States from one of the two major parties are taking various biblical texts as if they’re fact and ignoring all scientific studies because of those written words, we’re entrusting the survival of the world to the hands of the mystics.

Do those uttering these ludicrous statements truly believe them? Or are they appealing to a constituency as a means to an end?

I can deal with the latter. The former? Not so much.

Sports are a microcosm of society and this style of divine intervention isn’t isolated. It was Adrian Gonzalez who, following the Red Sox collapse, said:

“I’m a firm believer that God has a plan and it wasn’t in his plan for us to move forward.”

“God didn’t have it in the cards for us.”

If I’m paying Gonzalez his lofty salary, I don’t need to hear a built-in excuse for why he and his team failed. If he really believes this, it’s something I would have a serious issue with.

Evander Holyfield and Reggie White used to claim to have been healed by God and no one really batted an eye. Holyfield was able to fight; White was able to play football, so whom did it hurt? The money rolled in for themselves and their business associates.

But how far is this going to go?

Is it faith?

Is it a coping mechanism?

Is it a way to maintain calm during times of great stress?

Or is it a form of derangement?

Did the fervent belief that Hamilton espouses give him the confidence and calm to be able to ignore the pain of his injuries and exhaustion from a long season to have the power to hit that home run off of Jason Motte?

Perhaps it’s all of the above.

But let’s keep things in their proper context and in the realm of reality here and try to keep religion off the field of play.

Let’s keep things in perspective.

God didn’t hit that homer.

Hamilton the human being did.