Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:44 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 1:10 pm
Josh Hamilton is said to have been seeking a contract befitting a superstar before he went on his recent bender. Whether that means eight years, or $200 million, or something a bit south of that, he should put that idea out of his head right now.
Hamilton and the Rangers both said aloud that contract talks, which were expected to get going soon, will be tabled indefinitely while he and they try to figure out where he went wrong and how it happened. And that's perfectly appropriate. But even after he thinks he has it all figured out, Hamilton owes it to the team to offer to do a one-year deal with the Rangers. It can have team options if he likes, but only one year should be guaranteed under the circumstances.
Hamilton surely understands that if the Rangers don't give him a contract rewarding his incredible talent while ignoring the obvious major negative that someone else probably will. But Hamilton should also understand now he belongs in Texas and with the Rangers, who have guided him and backed him, and really, saved him. He owes them big. It is time he defers the dollars for some common sense.
The reality, of course, is that Hamilton or any other ballplaying millionaire making such a one-year proposal is probably about as likely as Texas seceding from the union. Still, it would be refreshing under the circumstances. It would also be the right thing to do.
Hamilton acknowledged he owed his wife and his team for what he has put them through, and here's his chance to show at least the team that that wasn't merely lip service. The Rangers saved him by trading for him and watching over him these past few years. They assigned Johnny Narron, a professional baseball man, to be his "accountability coach,'' and now, after Hamilton's own father-in-law Michael Dean Chadwick turned down the job, they have brought in Shayne Kelley, a former team chaplain and baseball coach with the Univeristy of Alabama, to handles duties that are far more difficult than most of us realize.
Hamilton performed masterfully at his press conference beyond his hat being on backwards, his failure to answer questions and his rather casual jog off stage. But one must ask themselves whether it is all or mostly an act. He looks like he's gotten off scot free, except for the delayed talks. What exactly are the repercussions? Rangers GM Jon Daniels has acknowledged that Hamilton is unlikely to face punishment from MLB for his episode, which included by his own admission "three or four''' alcoholic drinks before a return trip to the bar after promising concerned teammate Ian Kinsler he'd stay in the rest of the evening.
Hamilton acknoweldged that he, as an addict, is adept at fooling people about what's really going on. The whole back story of that night isn't known, nor is very much else known about his recovery. He is mandated, as a player who regained admission to MLB after being banned for continuing drug test failures, to take at least three drug tests a week. So at the very least, he has been staying off drugs. But this is the second alcoholic episode that's been documented.
It is time for him to give back to the team. Rangers officials say they passed on eight years for Fielder not to concentrate on Hamilton, that they just saw the price as too high and the length too long for Fielder. But Rangers owner Bob Simpson suggested it was unlikely they'd sign both longterm when he expressed his preference for Hamilton. That was merely one recent act of kindness the Rangers have shown Hamilton over the years. They have saved his career. Now, as he suggested in his press conference, it is time for him to repay.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:02 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:23 pm
The Rangers have hired a new "accountability coach'' for Josh Hamilton, who will try to make sure what happened Monday never happens again. Their heart is in the right place. And so is his.
Hamilton certainly did not soft sell his second drinking incident since becoming a Ranger today at his press conference, and that's a great sign. "I have a lot of soul searching to do,'' he admitted, among other things. Hamilton conceded to having "three or four'' drinks with dinner Monday at a Dallas-area bar before returning for more. He poured his heart out, too.
Hamilton, who's beloved by the Rangers for his almost superhuman level of transparency, admitted he can be tricky when he drinks. He said he fooled teammate Ian Kinsler Monday night, reassuring him he'd stay in after Kinsler dropped him at home, only to return to the scene of the drinking. But Hamilton showed his unvarnished self at his press conference, saying, "I feel terrible about this.''
It's hard not to root for this guy He certainly seemed sincere. He certainly seemed to be taking this transgression seriously. His recent past suggest he is. He had one previous "relapse'' since the Rangers acquired him, and he got through that to this point. His reaction today suggest he can get through this, too. But Hamilton understands how powerful his addiction is.
"I feel terrible about this,'' he said. "I am hurt by it tremendously.''
The Rangers love Hamilton, who became a superstar after a ban from baseball for multiple failed drug tests and a cocaine additcion, because of his otherworldy talent. But they also love that he wears his heart on his sleeve. He understands the seriousness of slips, even slips that may seem relatively minor to outsiders. He said his wife has been the strong one in their relationship and it's time for him to "take responsibility'' and to "step up.''
He also mentioned he understands now how his contract situation has to be on the "back burner'' now. That is assuredly true. The Rangers are a very loyal lot, and that loyalty seems to have paid off with manager Ron Washington, who they kept and supported after he failed a drug test in July, 2010, and recently gave a two-year contract extension, too, through 2014. But they are not crazy.
That organizational loyalty was at work when the Rangers held the line in contract discussions with Prince Fielder, deciding against going to eight years for Fielder, very likely in part because they had their own lefthanded middle-of-the-lineup superstar in Hamilton. Even before Fielder signed with the Tigers, Rangers co-owner Bob Simpson even said aloud that keeping Hamilton rather than signing Fielder was his "preference.'' It was clear what he meant. Hamilton is their guy.
The Rangers make more good decisions than almost anyone (for instance, they lowered their payroll $10 million in the first of two straight years they made the World Series, 2010). But one has to wonder whether their loyalty got the better of them in this case with their decision to pass on Prince (well, not go to eight years, anyway) and try to make a deal for Hamilton instead. Now those talks have to be on hold (as Hamilton admitted).
The Rangers made a great decision to acquire Hamilton in trade from the Reds for Edinson Volquez. Reds doctors worried that Hamilton would never be fully healthy, and they practically ordered a trade. It was a strict business decision on their part. And the Rangers made a business call to acquire Hamilton, calculating that his talent was worth the risk. But seeing his obvious charm, you have to wonder whether their decision to try to sign him instead of Fielder was based at least in part on his charms or their emotions. He is 31 with a long history of injury. He is to admired for coming this far. But you have to wonder whether all the abuse has taken a toll.
Hamilton is a great guy, and a great story. And he scored big with his terrific press conference. But let's face it, the Rangers took a real risk sticking with their guy.