Josh Hamilton Backslides

According to a report from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, Texas Rangers outfielder and 2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton was seen consuming alcohol at Sherlock’s Pub & Grill in the Dallas area on Monday evening.

The incident marks Hamilton’s second known relapse as a recovering drug and alcohol addict, the first being the well documented bender in January of 2009 at a bar in Tempe, Arizona. According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler received a call from Hamilton and went to the bar in an attempt to bring him home. Team officials have told the media that they are aware of the incident, but for the time will not comment further.

While further details remain vague, the news is disappointing.

On a human level, Hamilton’s story prior to the events this week was one of redemption. There’s little doubt that his drug and alcohol addled past should have resulted in a far less pleasant present, but somehow the slugger was able to overcome odds to find a great measure of success on the field and presumably happiness in life.

While that happiness may have been affected by an incident this past summer in which a foul ball that Hamilton tossed to a father and son in the stands at The Ballpark In Arlington resulted in a man plunging to his death, it’s nothing more than speculation to assume such events led to his backslide.

The one assumption that we can make from this regrettable news is that it will not only negatively affect the final year of arbitration eligibility for Hamilton, but also his pursuit of a contract extension with the Texas Rangers past the 2012 season, when he becomes a free agent.

It’s worth nothing that during the baseball season, Hamilton requires an accountability partner to travel with him and ensure that he doesn’t attempt to enter into the world of drinking and drugs again.

For years that role had been filled by Johnny Narron who was an assistant hitting coach with the Rangers. He left that position this winter to become the hitting coach with the Milwaukee Brewers. However, in the New Year, it was announced that Hamilton’s father-in-law, a former counselor who originally assisted Hamilton in getting clean, would step into Narron’s former role as an accountability partner. However, recently, Hamilton’s father-in-law changed his mind.

It’s tough. No one wants to discriminate against someone in need of another chance, and Hamilton has been just as good to the Rangers as the team has been to him. However, when dollars, cents, pennants and World Series titles are involved, everything becomes a factor. Unfortunately for Hamilton, “everything” in his case includes a shady history and a questionable present that only serves to emphasizes his past and his current need for extra attention. Baseball teams generally don’t wish to invest in such things.