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Monday, April 27, 2015

The Entitled Josh Hamilton

So, Josh Hamilton said things:
Josh Hamilton took strong exception to Angels owner Arte Moreno’s comments suggesting that Hamilton lacked "accountability" by suffering a substance-abuse relapse that ultimately led to the troubled outfielder getting traded to the Texas Rangers on Monday.

“I have no clue what he’s talking about,” Hamilton said during a news  conference at Globe Life Park in Texas, his first comments since he reported his relapse to Major League Baseball in early February. “I showed up every day and played hard when I was there. I hadn’t been the player they wanted me to be, I know I haven’t been, but I worked my butt off this winter to be that player.

“They just didn’t want that to happen for some reason. It doesn’t hurt my feelings or make me mad, but I prepared. [Moreno] knew what the deal was when he signed me. Hands down, he knew what he was getting. He knew what the risks were. He knew all those things. Under the [joint drug agreement], it is what it is.
Those defending Josh Hamilton as a product of addiction have a certain limited point about the nature of that disease and the risks therewith; but "he knew what he was getting" sounds disturbingly like an excuse. In the end, character matters. Josh Hamilton did not have it, but he will have a very large fraction of the remainder of $83 million, paid by the Angels. Having recently gone through it with someone who is a genuine addict myself — and shockingly, with a friend who came disturbingly close to enabling behavior — I cannot help but see this as smirking arrogance. As Mat Gleason wrote,
Josh, when you finally die of a drug related matter it won't be Arte Moreno's fault. It won't be the fault of the good fans in Anaheim who figured out your little game. They might have Donnie Moore's karma on them but they won't have yours. As much as I would like to say the blame for your future fate lies with the enabling national media and coddling players union, I think of Steve Howe's face crushed against his truck's windshield on a lonely interstate highway with crystal meth in his bloodstream and I know that all the blame will be on you, all of it, as it was with Howe. I can only hope that when you do yourself in, which you will, that, mercifully like Howe, you take nobody else with you.

Update 4/28: It appears I am in the minority in endorsing the Rev's words above, because they have since been taken down.  The vituperation against it on Twitter seems to be pretty close to unanimous, if my feed is any indication. I have known Mat for a number of  years now, and hyperbolic, tendentious opinion is his schtick (viz. his reaction to the news that Hamilton wouldn't appear at spring training), but it has not always been thus; once upon a time he offered a much more conciliatory tone, writing:
Perhaps this is just an issue with his surgery, many fans would be relieved by some drug test going wrong because of modern medicine. The benefit of the doubt should go to the man, a suffering human being deserving of our compassion. But the likelihood that he used and is owning up to it seems to be the razor truth of the matter.

Say a prayer for Josh Hamilton, the man. We can determine what this means for the team at another time. For now, be thankful your demons are not dragging you into a goldfish-bowl-shaped hell.
In the end, I suspect Mat's own personal wrestling with the demons of addiction informed his more recent rant. Temperance of any kind isn't easy to achieve with consistency.

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All I can say is that Rev's comments were harsh and certainly hard to read (especially for folks who are not so experienced with addiction). Having friends and coworkers who battle the disease daily I can say that his words are not much different than the kind of things I've heard friends say as sponsors in an AA environment. Tough love tends to be a credo in that circle and being absolutely direct about the end-consequences of continuing to use alcohol/drugs is important. It seemed to me that Rev was just applying a dose of reality - from one addict to another.
For what it's worth, I share your endorsement of Rev's now-censored words. It seems that victimhood is the new sainthood, especially if that victimhood is self-inflicted. I am sick of the whole thing, and it will be a long time, if ever, before I participate in Halos Heaven again.

In my declining years, I am becoming a First Amendment absolutist.

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