Josh Hamilton Needs More Alcohol Classes

by: Mike Miller

I have blogged about the uber-talented Josh Hamilton before. The star outfielder from the Texas Rangers has a long history of both alcohol and drug problems. He also is one of the most gifted players I have ever seen.

Everyone deserves a second chance and Hamilton most-certainly is battling demons. Remember once an alcoholic or drug addict always an alcoholic or drug addict. In other words, once you get addicted, it is for life!

That doesn’t mean you have to let you addiction victimize you. Staying sober will always keep the demons away.

As a 21-year-old outfielder in high Class A ball for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Hamilton, the No. 1 overall pick in 1999, left a game for personal reasons and was suspended by the team for more than three years because of drug and alcohol addictions. At that point, it seemed more likely Hamilton would wind up a cautionary tale told during rookie orientations than an everyday Major League baseball player.

Hamilton eventually got his problems under control and returned to baseball in 2006 as a 25-year-old, still in A-ball. He had 50 at-bats there, and the next season he started to terrorize major league pitching. He is a four-time All-Star, the 2010 AL MVP and came within one strike of being a World Series hero in 2011.

Fifty minor league at-bats at nearly the lowest level of the professional game are all Hamilton needed to get back on the baseball radar. I don’t care who you are—Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth—if you leave the sport for four years and don’t pick up a bat during that time, it should take you more than 50 at-bats to find the road back to superstardom. However, Hamilton is something of a baseball freak, a true phenom.

Relapse #2

Last January, Hamilton had his second relapse with alcohol. By all accounts, including his own, Hamilton has stayed away from cocaine, crack, pills and other drugs that gripped him early in his career.

In January 2009, Hamilton was drunk in a bar in Tempe, Ariz., and photos surfaced of him with college coeds. Before the photos even were released, Hamilton confessed to his family, the Texas Rangers and Major League Baseball. All was forgiven and Hamilton hasn’t failed any drug tests and hadn’t been seen drinking since then.

About three years to the day after that first slipup, Hamilton again succumbed to the temptation. He was drinking at a Dallas bar, before and after teammate Ian Kindler met up with him. Hamilton again confessed and expressed remorse and apologized to his family, his fans and the Rangers franchise.

For anyone with an ounce of understanding, sympathy or forgiveness, this news was heart-wrenching. Hamilton has transformed himself from the kind of person average Americans cross the street to avoid into a role model who has credited his Christian faith for his reclamation.

Baseball Equivalent to Robert Downey, Jr.

Hamilton’s first relapse became a source of inspiration. Yes, he screwed up after declaring himself clean, but he admitted his mistake and was forgiven. It showed how real his addiction is and how it can haunt him at any time. He remained a clean, sympathetic figure after that.

Our society wraps its arms around people like Hamilton. It so desperately wants to believe a 180-degree shift is possible because everyone knows someone like the old Josh Hamilton.

This latest mountain in the road—calling it a bump is underestimating the pull that substances have on Hamilton—surely will cause Texas to reconsider offering Hamilton a long-term contract.

He is an amazing talent. But we again have been reminded that Hamilton’s demons never will be exorcised and always will be only a drink or drug away. Hopefully, he will stay sober and become a role model the way Robert Downey, Jr. has.

Source: The Sporting News