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.

Comments (26)

  1. Recovering addicts are the new inefficiency?

  2. That’s bad news for sure. I hope it was a minor relapse and he’s ready for spring training and regular season.

  3. I hope he gets through this. But one thing I can’t quite understand… why would he go out drinking in public? Does he want to get caught? That seems weird to me.

    • Hamilton’s drug problems are great fodder for heckling at a baseball game. I know Americans love a redemptive story because of all their born again Christians… but I love the ridicule this guy gets at a Jay game. Go get him guys.

    • Maybe it’s because I don’t know any alcoholics, and I obviously don’t know the establishment, but isn’t it possible that he was just having one beer, which maybe as a grown man with some self restraint (and an accoutability partner) he’s allowed to do. Just because we’re bombarded with the idea that an alcoholic should NEVER have a drink again, it may not be 100% true.

      Now if he was getting s***faced, that’s a different story. But the story doesn’t say the amount of alcohol he was having.

      • I’ve been around alcoholism, and some people can’t flip the switch. Once they start consuming one, it doesn’t end.

  4. I think “disappointing” is the wrong word to describe this news. “Unfortunate” seems more appropriate. Personally I really won’t be surprise if he rebounds from this and keeps playing baseball the way he has.

    The guy needs a little slack, especially after that fan falling out of the stands last year.

  5. Wonder if this has anything to do with him being in between “accountability partners.” On the surface to most people, it looks like he made the choice to relapse. Unfortunately, addiction is strange and not that simple. He probably felt that he didn’t have a choice.

    The fact that he was drinking in public in the city where he plays is maybe a plea for help. Given his history, on-field value, and the investment the team has made in him, I am surprised that the Rangers left a gap in between “accountability partners.”

  6. As long as he keeps it under control. That’s the thing once an addict get’s a taste they will likely fall back into their old cycle.

  7. Whose to say he was in the bar trying to get hammered?? He could’ve been with friends just kicking back and trying to relax a little. People take news way too serious. Nobody knows why actually went down that night. Tell m he’s relapsed when you have pictures of him slumped on the ground or him in another bar fight.

    • Addiction and alcoholism don’t work that way. One beer may as well be a thousand and a giant rock. It has to be 100% abstinence, no occasional windows. He was in public drinking because at that moment – once he’s made the decision to have one – all rational thought escapes and consequences be damned.

    • The story contained in the link indicates that Kinsler went to the bar in an “attempt” to convince Hamilton to leave and go home … that sure doesn’t sound like Hamilton was there kicking back and relaxing with friends over a single beer.

  8. When Hamilton relapsed last time, in his apology, he said that he learned he couldn’t just have a single drink. It’s something of a big deal, given not only his stature and story, but also how it relates to the Rangers consideration of a contract extension.

  9. Uh oh. Now his god will punish him.

  10. Addiction is very often a battle for the rest of one’s life, regardless of how long they stay clean. The fact that Hamilton was seen with one drink could be just that, one drink, but its still reason enough to take caution.

    The good thing from this story is that Hamilton (allegedly) made the effort to call Kinsler, suggesting he is still well enough to know what his limits are and what he needs to do to deal with them.

  11. It is also significant that he chose to go to a bar and consume alcohol in public. If all he wanted to do was drink a beer, he could have stayed at home with a 6-pack, and nobody would have ever been the wiser…. But he chose to go out in a public place, knowing full well that he would be recognized and the story of his relapse would become a major sports headline. I am not a psychologist (though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night), but that sounds tome like someone who didn’t care about the consequences of his actions. That’s not a good sign.

    • Is that someone who doesn’t care about the consequences or cares very much about consequences and wants to make sure his actions have consequences? I don’t really know much about the psychology or a relapse. Does a relapsing alcoholic seek public shame because of the guilt they feel? It seems to me like a possibility worth considering.

      • Sure, I suppose it could have been a cry for help as well … but if he had really been sober for the last 3 years, why is he crying for help in such a public manner that has the potential to cost him tens of millions of dollars on his next contract?

    • This is a similar to Passan’s position, and I have to say, it’s a pretty severe misunderstanding of how addiction works. The notion that Hamilton doesn’t care just fits into this binary thought process we tend to have. Addiction is a form of mental illness and can be as much biological as it is acute and it’s never as simple or as black and white as “he doesn’t care” or “he’s a bad person.”

      The other thing, and this isn’t directed at you, is the idea that this is unusual or particularly profound in any way. Addicts fall of the wagon often; it’s the nature of addiction. It’s part of the game to relapse and although it obviously isn’t preferrable, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t made progress or that he won’t continue to.

      • Perhaps saying that he doesn’t care about the consequences was too strong. Of course he cares. It is his life and his livelihood… but the fact remains that he reached a point where those certain consequences were not enough to deter him from again falling off the wagon. I didn’t say or even imply that he was a bad person, so I won’t respond to that part.

        As to your second paragraph, while the possibility of relapse is certainly present in all addicts, not all addicts fall of the wagon. Many never do. Hamilton has fallen off the wagon at least twice to the public’s knowledge despite having all of the reasons in the world not to do so and having all of the external support that anyone in his situation could possibly have. I’ll stand by my original point that is a not a good sign, and it most certainly has to be a major point of concern for his potential employers who will be asked to commit tens of millions of dollars over multiple years.

  12. Unfortunate news to hear, but it sucks if the guy just wanted to have a single drink but can’t anymore because of his past. That’s got to be a hard thing to do for anyone, not EVER have a drink of any kind ever again to keep a sobriety ‘streak’ going, so they can say they haven’t had a drink in X-amount of days/months/years.

    He is such an exciting all around player to watch, this might hurt him in the pocket book, but shouldn’t affect the upcoming season for him.

  13. This shouldn’t even be news.

    • You’re joking, right?

      It could potentially be a major step toward the end of the career of one of the elite talents in the game. It will certainly delay and possibly even kill the chances of that player signing a contract worth tens of millions of dollars.

      Nope, nothing newsworthy about that …

  14. Parkes seems to have omitted his previous position that Hamilton’s sober-coach makes him less of a man.

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