WTF 4/29: Another view on Josh Hamilton’s priorities

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Time for a little talk about booze, drugs and priorities, and, I know… that’s a baseball guy up above there… Don’t get nervous you’re in the right spot for some WTF stuff… this ain’t the MLBRT column.

Due to my recovery from my knee replacement surgery and the fact I am using some damn strong ass narcotics to fight off the pain during my initial rehab period I am changing up WTF format for this weeks’ column… and, maybe if I get any positive reaction from what I am about to do, going forward, too… at least for some of my future columns…

The problem is that I just can’t do the necessary research for ten specific items that I want to write about and then spend the needed time to do the ten items any justice. Either the pain makes it difficult to maintain my thought processes for enough time to get the job done efficiently and productively, or, the dilaudid itself just scrambles the thought processes and I get the same result as I just stated due to the pain… either way … I am finding it too difficult to write productively enough to develop ten story lines for WTF.

So… I am going to pick one subject and write my ass off about it to the best of my limited and drugged ability.

It’s a topic I feel strongly about and one that, in a manner of speaking, I personally know a lot about… and, one which I was going to bring up sooner or later in a future independent 7Poundbag column.

joe1Now, I don’t know how many of ya’ll keep up with sports… and… I am not sure that even if ya’ll do keep up with sports that ya’ll know about and been keeping up with the baseball player Josh Hamilton and of his present rocky relationship with MLB and MLB’s Los Angeles Angels.

Let’s say it’s possible that it’s getting a little acrimonious these days to say the least.

Hamilton, for those who don’t know, is an alcoholic and a drug addict. He, himself says it’s so.

Recently… in the last three or four months or so… he “slipped”… parlance for “he fell off the wagon and imbibed in drink and drugs.” Which is a violation of his treatment program that he agreed to with MLB due to his violations of MLB’s Basic Agreement and it’s Joint Drug Agreement.

Or is it?

Seems some peeps don’t see his “slip” as a violation of his program.

Here’s the background… Hamilton’s struggles with drugs and alcohol are well documented. Go online find his wiki page and read it… it will tell you most of what you need to know about his addictions and their history.

And, know this… his fight with his addictions began back when he was still the “property” of the Tampa Bay Rays… that’s when he first agreed to go to a rehab for drug use while he was with his first MLB team.p-534477-josh-hamilton-baseball-card-2003-

In 2003… during spring training he failed his first drug test… then, for what is described as personal reasons, he took off a year from MLB.

But, in 2004, when he showed up at a Rays’ spring training, MLB said not in our house; you owe us some official time off for your failed test… 30 days in the cooler, so to speak.

Long story short he failed two more tests within a month and MLB suspended him for year.

He was out of the game for three years… he spent time in and out of rehabs… then in 2005 he made a comeback…

In 2006 he was using again… MLB gave him another year off.

Prior to the 2007 season, Hamilton was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft and then during the off-season he was traded to the Texas Rangers. While with the Rangers his MLB career begins to flourish and he began to live up to what scouts and many baseball people had always felt that he was capable of doing.

In 2009 he relapsed again… comes back…even wins an MVP in 2010… departed after the 2012 season to sign a five-year, $125 million deal with the division rival Los Angeles Angels… and… relapses again in 2012… and, now, this February, in 2015 he self-reported himself for using coke and booze in 2014 to the commissioner’s office. Actually, to the big cheese himself, Commissioner Rob Manfred, as I hear it.

Hamilton, MVP
Hamilton, MVP

The union… aka MLBPA… went to bat for him and argued with the treatment panel overseers… one guy from the MLBPA and one guy from MLB… that Hamilton didn’t violate his treatment program but that he only slipped a little bit and besides he self-reported the slip to the commissioner… so… essentially what’s the big freaking deal…

More later on the big freaking deal… but for now…

MLB said screw that… he was using drugs and drinking… he needs to be violated and suffer the consequences.

The stance of either side is not a big surprise.

What happens now is the rub…

Violation of the treatment program is big time suspension with big time loss of pay. And, according to the rules of the drug treatment plan, in the event of the two sides… MLBPA and MLB… coming to a stalemate in any agreement of whether a violation occurred or not the decision then goes to an independent arbitrator to decide.

AND… The arbitrator decides no violation.

Well, the Union says hip, hip, hooray for our side … in fact lots of peeps say hooray. Most of them is baseball players but there are lots of peeps who aren’t players that say hooray, too.

See… this Hamilton dude is well liked… And a lot of folks think that he has an illness and needs to be given a break… besides… they say… he only slipped. It’s not like he was out drinking and drugging fulltime. He slipped; cut the guy some slack.thE3346UCJ

Now, his present team the Los Angeles Angels… who by the by in case, I didn’t mention it, are paying him millions of dollars… like in the 20 mil a year range millions…. and MLB both say excuse us? He used substances that are clearly verboten according to the deal of his treatment program. He violated his program. But… hey, rules is rules and we can’t punish him for not following the rules if an arbitrator says he didn’t break the rules. Which we say he did and which by the way, he admits he did. He’s sorry and all that, but, he was also sorry those other two thousand times he walked right out the door slipped, too. But, since the arbitrator agrees with the union and says… hey the guy only slipped it’s not like he was doing a lot of drinking and drugging. Our hands are tied. So, again, rules is rules and according to the interpretation of the rules by the treatment panel the guy didn’t break the rule that says he can’t have a drink or do a drug while in the treatment program.

Angels’ GM Jerry Dipoto issued a statement that said, “The Angels have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family.” And, Angel’s team president John Carpino added, “It defies logic that Josh’s reported behavior is not a violation of his drug program.”

Then, on April 13th, the team owner, Arte Moreno, told reporters they may seek contractual recourse following the embattled outfielder’s relapse. According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times Moreno is saying, “We have a contract with Hamilton and that contract has specific language, that he signed and that was approved, that said he could not drink or use drugs.” Moreno said he is exploring whether to enforce that language.

Josh Hamilton on the Angels' bench
Josh Hamilton on the Angels’ bench

Now, whether the Angels are on the hook for another reported $80 million plus or not, is something for MLBPA, MLB and the Angel’s legal beagles to fight out. But, the smart money says, yes sir, buddy they’re on the hook. And, the Angels brain trust are being called a lot of things right now and none of them is anything that your average lunch pail guy would call nice.

The gist of most of the commentary is that the Angels are only showing concern for the money involved, not their player’s health. The greedy sumnabeetches.

Oh? Like the MLBPA argument wasn’t about the money?   It was just about letting the guy play because after all was said and done… he just slipped… a little bit.

A pitcher for the Angels… teammate C. J. Wilson….. who just so happens is also a very close friend to Hamilton… said “If Josh was hitting .300 with 35 home runs a year, what’s the situation?” and “If you’re good, you get away with everything. That’s all there is to it.”

They-Said-ItOk… now this is the skinny as I sees it… Hamilton when the stars are all aligned and he is sober, or, somehow maintaining his ability to perform even if not completely sober, is a damn good hell of a baseball player… MVP type of baseball player.

He also has not lived up to expectations since signing his five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels. Yes, I betcha a spanking mint condition buffalo head nickel, or even a greenback dollar, that tones coming out of Angel land would be different if he was still productive. Teams have shown time and time again they will put up with a lot if the player involved is productive.

The MLB territory is littered with plenty of historical examples.

And, it is true, no one forced the Angels to sign Hamilton.

And, it is also true, his history of drug and alcohol addiction was hardly a secret, and, that there were plenty of red flags indicating his play could be about to decline when he hit free agency during the 2012-13 offseason. Moreno & Co. took the risk and it hasn’t worked out. That’s baseball.

But, ya know what… it’s also it’s just business.

And, it’s also why certain language is inserted into certain contracts.

So, now peeps are saying… like this C. J. Wilson, among many others… that the Angels are looking to use Hamilton’s addiction as a way to save money and get out of his contract, and, that’s fucked up.

And, certain holier than thou writers are also saying that there’s a bunch of impending free agents out there looking at the Angels right now and telling their agents that The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is at the bottom of their list of desired destinations. Because after all treating a player like that is just not gonna sit well with those types of players. These newspaper writers know this for fact? Huh?

Tell you what… let’s wait and see… when it’s time to accept or reject certain offers, let’s just see what certain types of players do… after all that’s baseball… the business side and all, ya know.

I got a secret just between you and me… baseball is a big freaking business; has always been a business since the first time some schmuck put some seats around a baseball field and then built fences around the field to block any site views to the game except from the seats that were erected, and, then charged folks to get inside that fence to watch the game. And, people paid the money…big time. Product, or commodity, for sale that has enough of a value that peeps will pay the asking price and more… that’s the way it works.

However, this is all about to become a moot question if the noise regarding Josh Hamilton’s contract with the Angels becomes fact… that the team will pay about $68 million of the money remaining on the contract to send him back to Texas for “cash consideration”, and, that Hamilton will be expected to help offset the remaining $15 million.

And, the most recent word, which began emanating out of the Dallas media initially, is this deal is close to being finalized. It would send him back to the club with which he enjoyed his greatest success, and where he had an excellent support network as he constantly battled the demons of addiction.

As of late Monday (4/27) afternoon ESPN was reporting… “The trade sending embattled outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Angels to the Rangers has been completed, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman has reported. The Rangers later announced it officially, stating that the swap is for cash considerations or a player to be named later.”

Now… also understand that despite that there was a well-known and strong network of support for him with the Texas franchise, Hamilton refused to stay with the Texas Rangers and went to the Los Angeles Angels for what has got to be believed was mostly a money grab out of ego. But, not for any business reasons or greediness at all.

Absolutely and of course not.

When he left the Rangers, he said that the Texas Rangers’ stomping grounds, aka Dallas-Fort Worth area, was “not a true baseball town,” and, that it’s “always been a football town.”

Despite that it was in Texas where Hamilton had his most success, had his best support system and played without the large amounts of temptations that went along with a team that played in the stomping grounds of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim aka Los Angeles-Long BeachAnaheim, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area or more commonly known as LA.

Yes, of course, Texas went the extra distance for Hamilton, because he was, in fact, that damned good of a baseball player when he was sober. And, this ain’t to say Dallas Forth Worth ain’t without any temptations like bars and clubs and places where alcohol and drugs could be gotten but, hey, it’s still not  LA… just like it ain’t NY either, another big time town with big time expectations where the crowd and the press can crucify you on a dime and give ya nine cents change and temptations by the boat load loom big time, ready to entice an addictive person into “slipping” at a moments glance.

Let’s just say the pace and the availability of everything is just bigger, and in a sense better in places like LA or NY than in Dallas-Fort Worth.   josh

Hamilton was a five-time All-Star in Texas, and, the Rangers made the playoffs his final three years, including the World Series during his MVP season of 2010. But, suddenly in LA, he wasn’t.

Now, I ain’t saying being in LA was the only reason he didn’t meet certain expectations, but, it sure was a part of the reason… a huge part.

And, I ain’t saying the Angels’ franchise didn’t try to provide him a solid support system either. But, for some reason, I just have a feeling that the support system in Texas was just a tad more in depth and better, both qualitatively and quantitatively than the one established in LA.

But, hell considering the Rangers might not be responsible for more than $7 to $10 million of the money owed to Hamilton… why not? Why not take him back? Hamilton, now 33, certainly was among the finest players in the game during his five seasons in Texas, and despite his negative comments when he left Texas, he is still popular among his former teammates. They like him… they really like him.

Rangers’ pitcher starter Derek Holland told MLB.com, “I feel for him. He’s a great guy. He taught me a lot, and he also helped me get close to my faith. We’ll always be there for him. Yeah, he’s an Angel now. We don’t care. It’s more about the family aspect of it. He’s been very good to me; he was a great friend when he was out here. I’m pulling for him to get everything back and get in the right mind-set.”

Now the big freaking deal… thought I forgot, huh? Nope…

I want to speak on Josh Hamilton and his demons and how some folks are reacting to his latest “slip” off the wagon and with an extra serving of his favorite drug of choice… cocaine. In fact I have brought up the subject many times already… about people who drink and drug… throughout my WTF columns but never in any real depth.

I am a recovered alcoholic…aka an ex-alcoholic. Note, I did not say recovering… I did not say alcoholic in recovery… I said recovered and ex-alcoholic. Distinctly and clearly.

And, I don’t hate on alcohol or on people who want to drink it. In fact, if you come over to my home on a hot summer afternoon for a cookout… I got cold beer in my refrigerator to offer you.

Or, if, the situation is different and we be hanging inside and maybe you’d like a glass of wine or some blackberry brandy and ginger ale… I got both.

That’s the extent of the alcoholic beverages that I could offer you, but, the point is I have alcohol in my home and don’t walk around fearing it.

As long as I don’t personally feel you will handle the booze irresponsibly… like overindulging and driving… I got no problem offering you an alcoholic beverage. Or, having it in my home. The reality is the same when I out to a game, a movie, dinner… whatever… I don’t fear being around alcohol.

But, back in the day when I was a raging and roaring drunkard, like Hamilton I also abused my body with cocaine. I essentially used coke as my means to stay awake just so I could simply drink more. A real volatile mixture to say the least… and, yes, probably not something I could be writing about today in any rational sense whatsoever… if at all… if I had stayed on the path of destruction I was traveling. Too many times I made it home to wake up the next day to do it all over again. But, in a sense I got lucky… for over 25 years lucky, now.

I suspect… although I have no real knowledge… but, I suspect that Hamilton’s situation is very similar to mine. He uses coke to stay awake so he can drink more.Drugs-and-alcohol

Now, let me tell you this… those 25 plus years of being a recovered alcoholic are all for shit if I slipped just once. A drink and/or a drug whether I do them once or a million times is a return to being a drunk all over again. Just as if I never stopped.

And, let me also tell ya’ll this, too… just like Hamilton… as fucked up and mean ass as I could be while I was stone ass drunk and out partying and whooping it up… when sober, I was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. I got lots of peeps who would tell ya that. In fact, when I was in my cups they would tell you exactly how much of a dumbass drunken fool I was. But, boy oh boy time and again when I got off the booze and coke and cleaned up my act for awhile did they cut me lots of slack. Because, I was simply a real nice guy who would do anything he could for you if he could.

But, ya know what they really did? They enabled the hell out of me and just made it easier to rationalize why I drank and stalled my day of true reckoning.

And, the day came… I left a picnic; drunk off my ass, tried to take the back roads home to avoid the cops and wound up with my car wrapped into and around a tree… I remember trying to fight off, first, the people who came out of their homes to help me, and, then, the ER crews and the cops. Then the next thing I remembered was waking up strapped down to a Bridgeport Hospital bed.

After I left that hospital, I never had another drink.

And, no, it wasn’t that freaking easy… I called a man I knew about… my cousin… who had been sober for some 20 years at that point… he came and got me at my home… I was shaking, shivering, scared and alone. He took me back to Bridgeport Hospital and we told the ER peeps I was withdrawing from alcohol. They hooked me to an IV with fluids and a shot of valium that knocked my scared, shaking ass out and then when I calmed down enough led me to the shrink ward where I stayed the next week or so until I had sufficiently dried out enough that I could at least walk out of that damn place.

I went to my first Twelve Step meeting that night… it wasn’t AA per se, but, a group that dealt with all sorts of obsessive compulsive addictions… drinking, drugging, overeating, gambling… ya name it, they included you. I was still shaking and shivering but at least it was now somewhat controllable… I attended that first meeting wrapped in a blanket next to my puke bucket.thU4L3YLM4

Not a real damn nice sight, huh? But, that was my real reality. It was my fate if I didn’t stop drinking and then work to become an ex-alcoholic, that, or, death.

I had found my bottom and I was now with folks who were not going to lie to me any more about my addiction to alcohol. I was egoless and I was there to listen. I was there to have my inventory taken and then told the truth… completely unvarnished…in all its rawness.

Josh Hamilton needs that right now.

He needs to lose his history of having people handling him with kid gloves and making excuses for him.

It’s time… the second and third and fourth chances ad infinitum are… or should be… through.

He’s a drunk and a drug addicted man who needs to be confronted with truth… which needs to start with getting his ass thrown out of baseball for at least a year. He needs to confront his truth and he needs to do it with no one mollycoddling him.excuses

Where’s all that mollycoddling gotten him anyway?

Or, would it be better to read about how the Players Union went to bat for him one more time and MLB gave him another chance to continue playing the game and then one day we open our morning newspapers and see a story about how Josh Hamilton wrapped his vehicle around a tree… or… turn on the TV to see a screen of emergency vehicles at a crash scene, with an announcer reporting… unnamed sources are saying that Josh Hamilton, a professional MLB player, was pronounced dead at the scene early this after a night out celebrating his game winning walk off homer last night that punched his team’s ticket to the World Series.

I used the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as my text book guide, but, he can use whatever method he wants.

The trick is don’t play games and peeps need to quit making excuses for him… they need to say using a drink or a drug is a violation and makes him nothing more than a drunkard and a drug addict. It’s not a slip… it’s not like “Oops… there now I’m cool”, because, truthfully, it ain’t cool. That slip means he’s a freaking damn alcoholic, and, if he keeps on slip sliding that way, then, the only way he will be an ex-alcoholic is by becoming a dead alcoholic.

Again, he doesn’t need to use the Twelve Steps as laid out in The AA Big Book… or the Alcoholic Anonymous book… but , if he gets serious about beating his obsessive compulsive need to use and abuse alcohol and drugs, then, chances are that the program he enters into will use those Steps. And, if the program uses the AA Big Book as the guide to follow the Steps then there are promises he will find in the book. Promises that if he follows their program then he will be like the Founders of the program… free from the clutches of the obsession to compulsively use alcohol and unafraid to walk anywhere in the world… ex-alcoholics.35952_med

Some of the promises…

The Story of How One Hundred Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism… Title Page of the First Edition.

To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW WE HAVE RECOVERED is the main purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all… In the Forward to the First Edition.

Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem… Page 17.

There is a solution… Page 25.

Those are just some of the promises… there are many others… and… as I said… this program is not the only way to get sober, but, it worked for me when everything else had failed.

I found a solution. I hope Josh Hamilton does, too.

I just hope it happens for him before he is found face down lying in a gutter drunk and covered with puke and blood, just another former broken down baseball player… or worse… just another dead person ready for the meat wagon and a grave.

Another thousand words…

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Comments

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5 Comments

  1. Wow. Opening up your story and seeing it placed alongside Hamilton’s makes me realize the error that’s going on here. Shielding Josh Hamilton from himself is not the way to go here. Texas might be a comfortable environment for him, but he needs help. Maybe losing the game for good, and getting him into a rehab would be best for him. A slip up isn’t just a slip up in a situation like this. It’s pretty much a cry for help.

    Excellent blog but if I can offer one correction: Hamilton played a year in Cincinnati before he was dealt to the Rangers.

  2. Never thought about the fact that Hamilton was using coke to stay awake to drink more, but that does explain the over reliance he said he had for coffee and energy drinks in his last season with the Rangers. I remember that being a huge issue because his numbers fell off during the second half.

    He missed that sensation of what coke gave him, so maybe he overcompensated in that department. I don’t know really. Just a thought.

  3. Coke and booze is a double edge sword… do too much booze; a couple or four lines of coke gets ya up and drinking again… do too many lines of coke and booze is needed to take the edge off. It becomes a circular and never ending spiral until the crash comes.

    Having said that the first time I ever did coke I was hardly drinking at all at the time…lots of psychedelics and then… boom… coke entered into my life. It was only later that I found that other usefulness for coke in my life.

    Coke has it’s own “attraction” but alcohol was my primary addiction and I suspect is also Hamilton’s.

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