How Many Chances Does Josh Hamilton Deserve?

English: Josh Hamilton taking a picture with a...

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Josh Hamilton is a “recovering” alcoholic and drug addict.  His never-ending struggle with addictions has certainly been well documented.  Josh Hamilton also  happens to be an extraordinarily talented professional baseball player.  Last Friday, after his second drinking relapse in three years, he very admirably went before the media (taking no questions though) to say he was sorry.  With sunglasses atop backwards hat and without shedding any tears, the 30-year old apologized for letting so many people down that love and support him.  I don’t know or understand the demons that he has to fight everyday of his life, but enough is enough!

 

The first overall selection in the 1999 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, he admittedly blew most of his $3.96M signing bonus on booze, drugs, and partying.  Nevertheless, the Rays stood by Josh Hamilton for nearly seven years as he tried to stay clean and sober, but eventually passed him on to the Cincinnati Reds.  In 2007, he made his MLB debut with the Reds but was subsequently traded to the Texas Rangers after an injury-riddled year.  For the last four seasons, the four-time All-Star has enjoyed tremendous success with the Rangers…. winning the 2010 AL batting crown and MVP award.  He has a career batting average of .308, and lead his team to the World Series the last two years.

 

And, what baseball fan is ever going to forget the exhibition he put on in Yankee Stadium and a national TV audience during the 2010 All-Star game home run hitting contest.  Yet, back in January 2009 he drank to excess in a Tempe, Arizona bar and said his recent “weak moment” on January 30th in Dallas was triggered by “personal reasons with a family member”.  In both instances Hamilton said he did not take any drugs and had no thoughts of even doing so (after all, as a condition of his Rangers contract, he’s being tested for drugs THREE times a week, so he’d be real stupid to drop his guard on that).   Although these are his only “reported” instances of falling off the wagon, how much of this saga don’t we know?

 

Obviously the Rangers were well aware of his troubles, but took the chance in return for his productivity on the field.  As added insurance when he first came to the club, they hired an “accountability partner” for Hamilton (assistant hitting coach Johnny Narron) to basically shadow him 24/7.  But, Narron left the team this past November to become the Brewers hitting coach.  Last month the Rangers announced that Hamilton’s father-in-law had been hired as the replacement accountability partner, however, strangely at the last minute he declined to accept the position citing “family considerations”.  Say what??  Hamilton is on his own for the time being until somebody can be retained to babysit him.  In the meantime teammates, team officials, friends and family members will have to keep a close eye on him.

 

Josh Hamilton’s contract with the Rangers runs out after this coming season.  He will be due $13.75M for his 2012 services, not too shabby for a guy who can’t be responsible and loyal to those that have loved and supported him for so long…..including a beautiful, understanding wife and four young daughters .  In probably no other profession would this kind of behavior be tolerated and financially rewarded so excessively….as long as he keeps putting up the stats.  To say that he’s been extremely fortunate despite all of his struggles is the understatement of all time.  Yes, give him some credit for quickly coming out to the media but he’s been saying he’s sorry all his life.  He had no other choice than to put the good front on rolling into his contract year.  His contract requires that he produce AND stay off the booze and drugs too.  With an uncertain future looming, he could soon blow the opportunity to earn millions more.  Sorry Josh……one more strike and you’re OUT, pal!

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