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February 3, 2012

The BP Broadside

Josh Hamilton and His Persecutors

by Steven Goldman

Having reached the age of 41, I can state honestly that I have never been drunk or high. I drink socially and consume the odd glass of wine at home but have never had more than I could handle and have never touched a joint or any medication that wasn’t prescribed by a doctor or available over the counter at a drug store. When I tell people this, they either don’t believe me or ask, in so many words, if I am some kind of abstemious, moralistic prude, a question that I always feel like answering by gesturing towards my exceedingly ample body and asking, “Does this suggests abstemiousness to you?”

In fact, I have nothing against tying one on (with whatever substance—our definitions of legal and illegal drugs are highly arbitrary) if that’s what you choose to do; it’s your body, and so long as you abuse it in such a way that you’re not hurting anyone else, I don’t see where I have any kick coming. My reasons for not overdoing it stem from one of my earliest memories. At a very young age, I was introduced to a man who was trying to put his life back together after a long period of drug abuse. He seemed very old to me at the time, the way all adults seem old to young children, but thinking back, I realize he was probably no older than 25. He simply looked much older. More frightening though, was his dissipated air and distracted way of talking. “He… left long spaces… between words… and tended to trail off… in the middle of what he was…” Most of his attempts at speaking ended with him staring off into space.

I was told that this young old man once had a brilliant mind, but years of habitual drug use (I was never told what kind) had left him a shell of what he once was. Somehow, despite my youth, a message got through to me that I never forgot: “Better not to start.” Over time, as I observed my own psychology and also watched friends and acquaintances in various states of inebriation and debauchery, I realized three things:

  1. My initial conclusions were correct: better not to start.
  2. Given that I am neither handsome nor athletic, I’d best protect my brain, and
  3. Most people who are inebriated (by whatever means) are boring and no fun to be around, so why would I want to be one of them?

Unfortunately, many people do start, and some percentage of them find that they cannot handle it, perhaps because their brains are wired for addiction. In the same way that dieters find that their bodies fight to put the weight back on, success or failure in maintaining sobriety is not just a matter of discipline and willpower, although there is undoubtedly some of that, but also a matter of defeating predilections that are encoded into one’s brain or body chemistry. That is not to excuse the fact that they dabbled in the first place, but barring an obvious family history of addiction, most of us would not have reason to assume that their first drink would be fatal, or even their fifth or tenth. There are some drugs we know are almost instantly addictive, such as crack cocaine, and perhaps there should be a different level of opprobrium reserved for those who trifle with such a deadly substance, but for most people, knowledge that you are prone to addiction only comes after the fact.

On Thursday evening, reports began circulating that Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, a recovering drug and alcohol addict, had been seen consuming alcohol. At this writing, we don’t know any specifics or even if the reports are substantially correct. It has been reported that Hamilton was in a bar, where he should not have been, was drinking, and that perhaps he called Ian Kinsler, who subsequently tried to rescue him from the situation. If all of this proves to be true—and so far there is no reason to believe it is not—in the coming days there will be much ink spilled as to Hamilton’s perceived weakness and moral failings, as well as the more complicated baseball question of how the Rangers, who will shortly be challenged to decide if they should re-sign the four-time All-Star, should react to his fall off the wagon. Hamilton is already fragile, perhaps in part due to his substance abuse problems, perhaps not, and will play this season at 31; extending him a long-term contract offer might not be the wisest baseball decision even without the danger that Hamilton’s addictions may get the upper hand at any time.

Insofar as the baseball issue goes, I would have voted “no” even without this possible lapse; Hamilton’s age and difficulty staying on the field, combined with the high salary he would justifiably demand for his excellent bat-work, would make him too much of a risk for an extended Albert Pujols- or Prince Fielder-style contract. The current Basic Superstar Package is foolhardy to begin with, and when the stakes get that high you can’t bet on a player who already has too many DL days on his resume.

As for the moral issue, I simply say this: Shut up. Judge not, for addiction is never simple and is rarely just a matter of mere disregard of self or weakness. There but for the grace of God go you, and I as well: I was lucky enough to have had an object lesson that I was unable to rationalize away, or I might be there myself. You, though, maybe you are made of sterner stuff. Maybe you were just too smart to get snared—or maybe you’re just not built the way someone like Hamilton is, where your body craves intoxication from your very first beer onward. Whatever the cause, that smugness, that easy superiority, can come at a high human cost.

Back in the 1980s, the San Diego Padres had a second baseman named Alan Wiggins. He wasn’t a great player—having converted from the outfield at the major-league level, he was a miserable defender at the keystone, with 32 errors in his first full season there. He was almost purely a singles hitter, and though he took a few walks, his batting averages were unexceptional. The one thing he could do was fly around the bases, and in 1984 he helped the team to an unexpected pennant with 70 stolen bases. He also had a history of cocaine abuse and had been in rehab in 1982. Wiggins opened the 1985 season hitting .054 and vanished from the club while in the midst of an 0-for-19 streak. He had, for the second time in his career, succumbed to the lure of cocaine.

The Padres sent Wiggins to rehab, but he was not welcomed back after completion of the program. Then-owner Joan Kroc refused to accept him. “At the time [1982], we asked Alan to keep us posted—if he thought the problem was recurring to let us know. That did not happen. At some point a person has to be responsible for his own actions. Whatever it takes, we’re going to have a clean team.”

There’s that easy moralizing again. The truth was, Kroc was embarrassed. Having completed his 1982 rehabilitation, the Padres had used Wiggins as an anti-drug public speaker, sent him to schools, had him do public-service ads. She was also an idiot, because addiction is a lifetime condition with no cure. “Insiders say [Kroc] will never forgive Wiggins for the breach of faith his backsliding represents,” the Sporting News reported. See, it’s not about the addict committing slow-motion suicide before our eyes or trying to stop him from doing so, it’s about how much offense we can take, how far down our noses we can look. Most journalists merrily joined in the condemnation party; even Peter Gammons wrote that Wiggins had “turned his back on his teammates.”

Wiggins was given medical clearance to return, but the Padres spent a couple of months fighting the Players Association’s demands for his reinstatement, then dealt him off to the Orioles for a couple of players they didn’t want. They also reportedly absorbed some of the cost of the four-year contract he had just signed during the offseason. He played some of the best baseball of his career for them over the remainder of the season. That was about it for him, though. His limitations as a ballplayer were just too great. He fell into a reserve role with the Orioles and was even sent down for a time by Earl Weaver in 1986. The Orioles released him in 1987. There was a year to go on his contract.

Wiggins never played again. He mostly disappeared from view. Occasionally one would hear rumors of more drug problems, and there probably were some. Mostly, though, he was just gone. We didn’t hear his name again until January 6, 1991, when we learned he had died of AIDS, likely picked up as a result of his drug use. He was only 32 years old. Wiggins certainly bears some of the responsibility for his fate, but it was also true that it was much easier to mock him, call him a “druggie” (as the infamous columnist Dick Young did), and shun him the way the Padres did than it was to help him.

The same is true of Josh Hamilton. From now until he signs his next contract, we are going to be hearing endless mooing about this moment. It was a moment of poor judgment, a moment of weakness, yes, but one impossible to understand without also attempting to comprehend how strong the urge to relapse must be. It’s so easy, so tempting, to talk about things we don’t know about, like the quality of a man’s commitment to his own well-being. That’s a temptation too, just like that drink you shouldn’t have, but somehow there is no rehabilitation clinic for the holier-than-thou—no one to wag their finger, to say “tch-tch,” and to remind them that their lapses are also matters of human weakness, selfishness, and myopia. And unlike the addict, they can just stop, if only the would learn some patience and generosity.

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

74 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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CongoHammer

Treating "druggies" as lowlifes and punishing them instead of helping them, while passing judgment on them from our moral high ground? It's the American way.

Feb 03, 2012 04:32 AM
rating: 9
 
eighteen

It's no more American than any other way.

I have a good friend in Rome who insists there's no A.A. in Italy because, and I quote, "We don't have that problem here."

Feb 03, 2012 11:27 AM
rating: 2
 
amazin_mess

Sad news. Hamilton seems like a terrific guy, I wish for all the best for him.

Feb 03, 2012 04:40 AM
rating: 3
 
FlyinJ

This is a well done and thoughtful column. The Wiggins' story certainly adds a context which is often overlooked on Hamilton.

Feb 03, 2012 05:25 AM
rating: 12
 
JimmyJack

If memory serves, Tony Gwynn was the only former teammate to attend his funeral. He was likely the only MLB representative.

Feb 03, 2012 11:45 AM
rating: 2
 
dianagram

This article needs to hit the internets .... for all to read.

Feb 03, 2012 05:40 AM
rating: 8
 
jj0501

Thank you Steven for an insightful article into the larger issue which transcends the immediate baseball concerns. I had forgot the Padres' initial reaction to Wiggins' relapse. Hopefully our reactions as a community of fans in 2012 are different now that so much more information is available on the nature of addictions.

Feb 03, 2012 05:47 AM
rating: 4
 
jetson
(660)

I think you're painting this with way too broad a brush. Hamilton can be simultaneously vilified and helped, it's not one or the other as I think your article somewhat implies.

The Wiggins case is easy to look at in historical broad strokes as well, but I'm wondering if we're acknowledging all the facts and circumstances in play at the time?

Feb 03, 2012 06:11 AM
rating: 5
 
marshaja

So according to reports, he recognized he was in a bad situation and called a friend to help him? This sounds like a pretty responsible thing to do.

Feb 03, 2012 06:15 AM
rating: 7
 
jrmayne

Yeah, we obviously have incomplete facts, but if indeed it was Hamilton who called for help, that's a very positive sign. A one-off relapse (though obviously not Hamilton's first) with desire not to relapse further may be resolvable.

Hamilton's long and improbable road back from the gutter has had its share of bumps. And I think there is a place for social excoriation if such deters either Hamilton or others from the addiction lifestyle - addicts tend strongly toward behaviors that are harmful to society.

Hamilton's less likely to engage in some of those behaviors because he's got money and a very vested support structure.

And, of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Feb 03, 2012 06:58 AM
rating: -1
 
CRP13

Awesome column, Steven. I had a similar experience as you describe up top, and it's good to know that I'm not the only one on earth that gets looked askance at for never having been drunk, despite no moral protest against alcohol. Again, the whole article is very thoughtful.

Feb 03, 2012 06:28 AM
rating: 2
 
DeathSpeculum

Any truth to the rumor that Josh Hamilton was seen slamming Black Label, aborting babies and clubbing baby seals all night long?

everyone needs to calm down. relapses are inevitable. this will happen every once in a while. as long as he doesn't fall off the wagon. i worry more about hamilton after his playing days are over.

Feb 03, 2012 06:47 AM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

No, relapses are NOT inevitable. Common, yes. Inevitable, not at all.

Feb 03, 2012 11:30 AM
rating: 5
 
Sean Boulton

Slow clap, Steven. I half want to send this column to almost every other sportswriter in North America as an example of how to write about a nuanced issue without coming across like a sanctimonious tool.

And DeathSpeculum is right - the complications of Josh Hamilton's life today are nothing compared to what they'll be like once he's retired. That is a scary thought.

Feb 03, 2012 07:05 AM
rating: 9
 
kcboomer

To call Joan Croc an idiot based here reaction to Alan Wiggins relapse with cocaine is Monday morning quarterbacking of the saddest order. Thirty years we were not near as well informed on drug addiction as we are today. Her reaction is very consistent with what most adults attitude at that time. That was a day and age (which ended shortly thereafter) when most of us expected other people to be accountable for their actions.

And then Goldman writes "...Wiggins certainly bears some of the responsibility for his fate....". Bears some of the responsibilty. Tell me you jest. Surely you didn't mean that. He bears virtually all the responsibility for his fate.

In light of what we know today about addiction the article is spot on. Hamilton will be an addict all his remaining life and it is incumbent upon us to help him fight his demons. However, should he lose his fight the fault is not ours, but his.

Feb 03, 2012 07:34 AM
rating: 13
 
Deadheadbrewer

I agree. The "idiot" comment slightly sullied an otherwise excellent article for me. As stated, the common knowledge of addiction was far less at that time than it is today. And Kroc's zero-tolerance policy seems mighty inspired, given that all these years later many baseball teams seemingly turn a blind eye to PED use, then feign indignity when the use becomes public.

Feb 03, 2012 08:55 AM
rating: 7
 
ASBarrell

Although I also enjoyed the article, I have to take um-bridge with the "zero tolerance" byline of this comment. Do you really expect us to believe their was zero tolerance for drug use? More like zero tolerance for getting caught. How many ballplayers from that era came out with a cocaine problem, or later admitted to one during their playing days? Strawberry and Washington pop into my head at the speed of light. Do we really believe teams were any more blind to this

Feb 03, 2012 18:50 PM
rating: 0
 
Daddyboy

And would you say the same for an individual with diabetes or heart disease who weren't able to always manage their illness properly, that "they bear all the responsibility for their fate"?

Where you go wrong here, kcboomer, is that there is not always "fault" to be had, that sometimes life deals bad shit to people. If Hamilton loses his fight to addiction, he's not at fault, and the same compassion that's shown to anyone who loses a fight to cancer, heart disease, etc., should be shown to his memory, and loved ones.

Feb 03, 2012 10:43 AM
rating: 2
 
eighteen

An individual with diabetes who has the resources to manage the disease is responsible for doing so. Changing diet and taking insulin are the individual's responsibility. If he doesn't do it, and he dies, it IS his fault.

Now, if there's no insulin to be had, that's a different story - but one NOT comparable to Hamilton's. Hamilton has the tools and resources to manage his addiction, as evidenced by his period of sobriety. He relapsed because he stopped using them. That's his fault, not the disease's, and he'd be the first to tell you.

Feb 03, 2012 11:39 AM
rating: 2
 
cfinberg

I think your comparison is missing a key distinction.

Diabetes is a hormone deficiency, a mechanical problem if you will, which can be directly treated by specific medical procedures (That said, many people with diabetes still succumb to it even though they take the prescribed treatment - so it is not cut-and-dry in any case). Addiction can't be summed up so easily, as it is not just 'taking drugs.' It's also defined by a constant compulsion to take the drugs, and by suffering through depression, anxiety, etc etc as a result of NOT taking them. I don't know too many diabetics who feel compelled not to take their insulin.

The 'management' of drug addiction to which you refer consists of treating the symptoms of the disease as opposed to its cause. In other words, just because he was sober for awhile doesn't mean he was cured. He didn't relapse because his treatment suddenly slipped, he relapsed because he's an addict! He knows first hand that he can't be an effective baseball player and abuse substances at the same time. He also knows that most everything good in his life owes to his ability to play baseball and stay out of trouble. And yet he ended up drinking in a bar regardless.

If that's not helplessness in the face of an affliction then I can't imagine what is. I'm not really into passing judgement on helpless people.

Feb 03, 2012 22:46 PM
rating: 3
 
eighteen

I recommend to you the chapter "How it Works" from A.A.'s Big Book. It was written by people who knew a little something about addiction and recovery; and it begins "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

Yes, there are a few unfortunate people who cannot get sober. But if, as you claim, addiction causes relapse, sobreity isn't even possible.

Entire books have been written on this subject; but, as someone who's spent many years in A.A. and thousands of hours talking with recovering alcoholics, I'll just say this:

An addict can't choose to not be an addict. He can choose to be a recovering one.

Feb 04, 2012 10:40 AM
rating: 4
 
Richard Bergstrom

In theory, if a person didn't thoroughly follow the path and/or failed, then they would have been excluded as "path followers". It's a bit similar to saying "Rarely have we seen a millionaire who didn't make a million dollars."

Feb 04, 2012 22:01 PM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

This is an astonishing post from you, Richard. You're usually more thoughtful than this.

The only way your first sentence makes any sense is to conclude that you interpret the assertion to say "Rarely have we seen a person fail who hasn't failed." Judging from your past posts, I can only assume you posted this without thinking about it.

The second sentence is completely inapt. To put it in your terms, an accurate comparison would be "Rarely have we seen a person follow our investment advice and not become a millionaire."

Feb 05, 2012 21:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Close, but not quite.

How I interpreted the sentence was:
"Rarely have we seen a person who hasn't failed actually fail."

If you fail, you're automatically disqualified from the clause.

Or, to rephrase the original sentence:
"Rarely have we seen a person who didn't follow our path actually follow our path."

If you don't follow the path, you're automatically disqualified from the clause.

Which would imply that:
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

If you don't follow the path, you're automatically disqualified from the clause. But then you come to the word "thoroughly". What is considered "thoroughly"? If, for example, I'm sober for a year and follow all the steps then have one drink, was I thoroughly following the path? If it was not considered "thorough", then you get disqualified from the clause. What if I'm sober for 3 months? 3 years? How thorough do I have to be? I wager I'd have to be sober for life to be "thorough". In other words, any evidence that "the path" fails gets disqualified from the clause even if a person was sober for twenty years then has a drink. That clause suggests that "the path" is more successful than it actually is because any failures get conveniently excluded.


Feb 06, 2012 09:35 AM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

I'm amazed anyone would spend that much time in mental masturbation just so he could conclude a journey and its destination are the same thing.

Feb 07, 2012 01:06 AM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Mental masturbation? I thought you thought I was thoughtful ;)

Feb 07, 2012 07:18 AM
rating: 0
 
gdragon1977

Is this really suggesting that the alcoholic or drug addict is no more responsible for his condition than the type 1 diabetic is for his? And if so, are there things that we know of that the type 1 diabetic could have done to avoid it and keep his pancreas working, or are you saying that the addict is an addict through no fault or choice of his own?

Feb 05, 2012 17:31 PM
rating: 1
 
kcboomer

One other thought. I don't mean this to sound harsh, but when dealing with addicts you must never, ever believe them. Do not care one whit about what they say. It is all about what they do. Addicts are the most accomplished liars on the planet.

When a addict says he's clean, do not believe him. Merely judge him by his actions. Help him as much as you can, but never lose sight of the fact he is an addict.

Feb 03, 2012 07:38 AM
rating: 4
 
kmbart

"Judge not lest ye be judged" is absolutely appropriate, but also do not condone, enable or excuse the behavior. I dodged a bullet or two in my younger days (thanks to luck and genetics, not anything of my own doing) so I agree with KCBOOMER that the best liars on earth are addicts and only their actions speak to their true state of mind and heart. Steven, despite your kind sentiments, there is always collateral damage when an addict relapses and those who suffer must be the primary focus afterwards.

Feb 03, 2012 07:47 AM
rating: 2
 
HeavyHitter

Nicely done, Steven.

Feb 03, 2012 08:15 AM
rating: 3
 
hessshaun
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I like that he called his Jewish friend.

Feb 03, 2012 08:54 AM
rating: -6
 
eighteen

I don't get the negative ratings here. Hamilton's a born-again Christian, isn't he? Why is it NOT good that a born-again Christian would be so open-minded and tolerant that he'd have a close Jewish friend he could trust in a matter like this?

Feb 03, 2012 11:45 AM
rating: 3
 
amazin_mess

Just guessing, but the comment probably got negatives because people don't see what Kinsler's religious beliefs have to do with this story.

Feb 03, 2012 12:11 PM
rating: 6
 
WaldoInSC

I think Shaun was being glib, but it's hard to see that in print.

Feb 04, 2012 09:10 AM
rating: -1
 
MichavdB

Another great article Steven.

Feb 03, 2012 09:53 AM
rating: 1
 
cburnell

Well said, even if he couldn't hit a lick.

Feb 03, 2012 10:25 AM
rating: 0
 
Ironhorse

Thank you for your example of compassion and ethics, Steven.

Feb 03, 2012 10:47 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Addiction and the way friends and family respond to it is a quirky kind of phenomenon. I had a friend who had an alcoholic father and because of that, she refused to touch anything that was considered addicting, including chocolate.

Feb 03, 2012 10:52 AM
rating: 0
 
LynchMob

Alan Wiggins left a notable legacy in the sports world ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candice_Wiggins

RIP Alan ... 1984 was a very good year ...

Feb 03, 2012 11:18 AM
rating: 4
 
Lloyd Cole

If you can't relate to what Stephen is saying, try reading "The Neon Rain" by James Lee Burke. Not only is it a great detective story (with one of the greatest detectives ever, Dave Robicheaux--a troubled, severe alcoholic, but also an upright and principled man), but it put me in touch with this world in a way that no other book ever has.

Feb 03, 2012 11:30 AM
rating: 0
 
doog7642

As a person of faith, I think there is remarkable significance in the thinking that drives this comment. All of us die, yes? Death and taxes and all that? But it seems easy in so many instances to assign blame. The diabetic will die. So will the addict. So will you. Doesn't the universality of death -- and the fact that we seek to assign responsibility to the individual even though the worst they can be doing is speeding up the process -- tell us that the problem is far bigger than that which can be laid at the altar of individual resposibility? I happen to believe that Josh Hamilton's faith is in the ultimate solution to that problem, and that this relapse is part of a much bigger story. YMMV, but when funerals happen for those who have the tools and resources and those who do not, for those who manage their diseases and those who do not, I think we have to see a bigger picture.

Well done, Steven.

Feb 03, 2012 12:19 PM
rating: 0
 
doog7642

Btw, that was supposed to be a response to KC Boomer's comment above. Sorry for the poor formatting.

Feb 03, 2012 12:21 PM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

Very deep, but I think I'm missing what your point is.

Feb 03, 2012 16:09 PM
rating: -1
 
doog7642

My point is that the problem that all human beings face is one far bigger than personal responsibility is capable of solving. Wise and responsible choices can lead to benefits, but they don't ward off all sickness. They don't ward off death. And they don't even provide the answer to addiction. AA focuses on a higher power for a reason -- the mess is bigger than any of us can tackle, and death is the final evidence of that. In light of that, I believe those who are quick to throw stones when recovering abusers fall off the wagon are ascribing to human beings power we simply don't have.

Feb 04, 2012 18:49 PM
rating: 2
 
eighteen

A very nice column, Steve, but I think your compassion and desire to be understanding minimalizes the level of Hamilton's personal responsiblity for walking into that bar.

It's true no addict is responsible for being an addict - no one wants it or asks for it. It's also true it's not an addict's fault he can't see his problem. I'll even buy the argument it's not an addict's fault for not seeking help even if he recognizes the problem.

But when an addict sees the problem, seeks help, and gets sober, then personal responsiblity enters the picture. Sobriety isn't the absence of addiction, but the return of choice. The longer the addict remains sober, the more choice he has in whether he'll stay sober (Note to people who can't read clearly: I am NOT saying sobriety is the ability to choose to not be an addict). I'm coming up on my 27th anniversary - if I relapse today, it'll be because I choose to, not because my mind and body are screaming for a drink. And when I wake up in the hospital or in jail the next day, that ability to choose will be gone.

You're wrong that Hamilton's relapse was "...a moment of bad judgment, a moment of weakness..." Relapse is a process, not an event. Hamilton stopped doing what he knew full well he had to do to stay sober long before he picked up that first drink. That's his fault, and however much compassion we feel for his predicament, we don't help him or any other addict by pretending otherwise.

Feb 03, 2012 12:20 PM
rating: 5
 
19braves77

Great article. I think a lot of the backlash comes from Hamilton's Christian faith. Feel sorry for his wife.

Feb 03, 2012 12:29 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I don't think it's Christianity. I think its writers trying like hard to stir something up and find something to write about before spring training starts. Usually, around this time, there's usually a PED story (Bonds, McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, etc) to divert their attention.

Feb 03, 2012 13:40 PM
rating: 3
 
thenamestsam

Good article, but it seems like a backlash against something mostly imagined. I've seen like 5-10 articles trying to hit essentially this exact note today: "As for the moral issue, I simply say this: Shut up. Judge not, for addiction is never simple and is rarely just a matter of mere disregard of self or weakness." But I haven't actually seen anyone passing any judgment against Hamilton or condemning him for being morally inferior, just backlashes against it. Steve basically takes it as a given that a lot of people will have that reaction, but I haven't seen it much if at all. Am I just missing it?

Feb 03, 2012 12:42 PM
rating: 6
 
dodgerken222

God forbid that anybody should judge an alcoholic or a drug addict in this post-Oprah society. After all, since anybody can become an addict, why give somebody credit to somebody who, by pure chance, hasn't become one? Any one of us could become a Lindsay Lohan or a Josh Hamilton in a blink of an eye.
Actually, not. Individual responsibility, people. The sad truth is that a lot of teens become alcoholics today because while smoking is demonized in the media, drinking is glorified. Also, anybody who is anybody has been in rehab. These are truly the new role models. If someone like Hamilton is criticized, there is always someone like Mr. Goldman who scolds them rather than the addict. A "momentary lapse." Anybody really believe that? He just got caught this time, that's all.
By the way, I'm a diabetic, and I resent being compared to an addict. Yes, I don't strictly follow my diet and yes, if I die, it may be construed by some as being by my choice. But it's not my "fault." I wouldn't ask fault to be assigned. I'm responsible for my behavior, and so is Hamilton. In addition, my illness does not injure others. I am not a danger behind the wheel, and I am not abusive to my family, nor bring embarassment to them (at least not because of diabetes.)
Being overly indulgent of and enabling to addicts is more pathetic than being sanctimonious about them.

Feb 03, 2012 16:40 PM
rating: -1
 
rcrary

Consecutive thoughts of yours:

"Actually, not. Individual responsibility, people."

"The sad truth is that a lot of teens become alcoholics today because while smoking is demonized in the media, drinking is glorified. Also, anybody who is anybody has been in rehab. These are truly the new role models."

Do you really not see the blatant contradiction here?

Feb 03, 2012 19:22 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Not everyone can be an addict. As Goldman said, he chose never to try those things out... and the sad truth is the people who don't try drinking/drugs/etc are usually the ones who get demonized at worst and ostracized at best.

Feb 03, 2012 23:20 PM
rating: 1
 
dodgerken222

It's truly an amazing country when Joan Kroc, who has a "no-cokehead" policy for a ballclub can be attacked in an article while poor Alan Wiggins, who "succumbed to the lure of cocaine" can be glorified.
No more starting an AA meeting with "I am an addict." Mr. Goldman would have them start "I have succumbed to the lure of alcohol." Tough love, indeed.
By the way, thenamestsam makes a good point. I too have heard nary a word against Hamilton. Every commentator on MLB lauded Josh's "performance." Harold Reynolds described it as "awesome." As if he just made a great catch. Kevin Millar was upset that the social media had reported it. Where exactly is this bogeyman that Mr. Goldman attacks? Or is it a pre-emptive strike?

Feb 03, 2012 16:53 PM
rating: -1
 
cfinberg

Oh, you mean the country where people are allowed to say and write what they think?

As for the answer to your parting question, that's an easy one: you're the bogeyman.

Feb 03, 2012 22:55 PM
rating: -1
 
Behemoth

Come on, please point out where Alan Wiggins was in any way glorified in the article.

Feb 06, 2012 05:02 AM
rating: 2
 
Rider11

Let's keep in mind the fact that a player of comparable talent (Miguel Cabrera) has had repeated alcohol related incidents that could have seriously hurt his team (getting s-faced on the eve of a playoff game) or a completely innocent bystander (drunk driving and threatening cops who stop him), but he is not held up to the same standard because he has not had a "public" recovery like Hamilton. In an ideal world, Hamilton's recovery would be private, like most who are in recovery. He had a couple of drinks - he didn't start shooting up and he didn't jeopardize anyone's life. The transgression is between him and his God and his loved ones.

Feb 03, 2012 18:59 PM
rating: 11
 
bhutch10

Was baseball's way of dealing with Steve Howe superior?

Feb 04, 2012 10:47 AM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

I still can't believe that no one has been busted for anything more serious than marijuana since the PED scandal broke. With all this drug testing going on (and with people still getting caught), you think someone would've done a "real" illegal drug.

Feb 04, 2012 22:02 PM
rating: 0
 
Nickus

Ron Washington failed a drug test for using coke.

Feb 05, 2012 11:58 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I'm talking about baseball players who get drug tested regularly. To be honest, I'm not sure managers get tested that often. I would think with players getting tested so often that if an illegal drug showed up, it'd get reported, but maybe the CBA doesn't cover that?

Feb 05, 2012 14:13 PM
rating: 0
 
Nickus

Non-players who work around the clubhouse are subjected to one random test a year according to the SI article about Washington, so you are correct that it is not terribly often. Still, if wikipedia is to be trusted that is more than the players are tested for drugs of abuse, as that is only done with cause, not randomly. Again, that would back your sentiment that it is not covered in the CBA.

Feb 06, 2012 21:50 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

The question I have is whether the random tests for PEDs also test for illegal drugs, and if not, why not?

Feb 06, 2012 22:58 PM
rating: 1
 
Nickus

The random test for PEDs does not test for drugs of abuse. It only tests for Performance Enhancing Substances, 58 of which are listed, and Stimulants, another 30 listed. There are 7 Drugs of Abuse listed in the Joint Drug Agreement.

Section 3.B of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program states :

Except as set forth in Section 3.A or Section 5.B (as to Stimulants) or Section 3.C or Section 4.E, Players shall not be subject to testing for the use of any Drug of Abuse.

Section 3.C deals with reasonable cause, the only apparent way to test for drugs of abuse.

As to why, apparently that's what they agreed upon.

If you are so inclined you can get a PDF of the agreement here:
http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/jda.pdf

Feb 07, 2012 10:10 AM
rating: 1
 
dodgerken222

Right, cfinberg. The creed of the bleeding hearts..celebrate conformity, or else.

Feb 04, 2012 11:23 AM
rating: -2
 
dodgerken222
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Tommy Lasorda was once asked what he thought about Daryl Strawberry's "illness". Referring to the celebrated junkie, Lasorda snapped back that it wasn't an affliction or an illness, but that it was a "weakness." Not something to pity.
I know a lot of readers of this blog think that "Just Say No" is pious baloney because it doesn't involve creating a cabinet post with a big budget. But if Hamilton and others are too weak to do this, they shouldn't rely on their apologists in the media to attack people who criticize them. If ya can't do the time, don't do the crime.

Feb 04, 2012 11:32 AM
rating: -5
 
maximizer

My father was an alcoholic(he died 2 months ago). I have always thought that calling an addiction a disease was pathetic.

Then after his death it finally dawned on me that no one in there right mind wants to live like that. What I realize now, it that it is a psychological disease, in fact I think that my Father had un-diagnosed bipolar condition to some degree.

So now I really believe addiction is a disease, but its in the mind, so ignorant people find it hard to wrap their head around.

Feb 04, 2012 12:32 PM
rating: 5
 
eighteen

"Weakness" isn't the addict's problem - powerlessness is. The addict simply cannot say "No" to the disease, because the essence of addiction is zero control over that to which he is addicted. If a person can say "No," and make it stick, he's likely not an addict.

What the addict CAN do is say "Yes" to something else that does have power over the disease. That's a topic way beyond the scope of any post that should be offered here. Suffice to say that the great paradox of recovery is that the addict has to surrender to win.

Feb 05, 2012 20:41 PM
rating: 3
 
amazin_mess

On a baseball note, how hard does Texas try to resign Hamilton now? That's going to be interesting to watch as the season and next offseason unfold.

Feb 04, 2012 13:47 PM
rating: 0
 
escapingNihilism
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

the fact(s) that Hamilton is white and that's it's currently alcohol and not something illegal will help him from a PR point of view.

Feb 05, 2012 06:33 AM
rating: -5
 
Richard Bergstrom

Last I checked, non-whites who had scandals with alcohol such as Miguel Cabrera didn't have much in the way of PR problems either. I don't think race is something that should be brought into this discussion (which is already complicated enough).

Feb 05, 2012 08:27 AM
rating: 6
 
AirSteve01

I almost completely don't give a hoot about piling onto any of the various morality arguments.

The things that would interest me much more for Hamilton articles in the near future are things that might affect his future playing time and performance. Examples:

-during his almost annual surgeries, do the anaesthetics and painkillers used during and after pose any risk to re-igniting a relapse?

-Are there any addict comparables we can learn anything from (Doc, Straw, Wiggins, Howe, etc.)

Feb 05, 2012 06:55 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

There have been some articles about Hamilton and painkillers.

http://aol.sportingnews.com/mlb/feed/2011-10/world-series/story/aching-addict-josh-hamilton-cautious-with-pills-injections

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=sh-henson_hamilton_world_series_groin_painkillers_102211

My take: He only takes them when absolutely necessary which might also indicate why he tends to "play with pain" a lot. And playing with pain so much might keep injuries aggravated longer than normal, leading to more DL time when his body finally breaks down.

Feb 05, 2012 08:33 AM
rating: 1
 
UtahDave

Given the volume of comments already made, there's nothing on either side of the debate that I could add that hasn't been said. But what I would say is that I really enjoyed your article and compassion is better than hatred whether or not the person "deserves" it. Judge not, lest ye' yourself shall be judged.

Thanks for a good article and a better perspective.

Feb 06, 2012 17:46 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

A small thought on the baseball side of Hamilton's "incident". If memory serves, both is recent public relapses were in the offseason. As a GM, should that be a point in Hamilton's favour - he stays clean during the season? As a GM, is that not the most important point?

Feb 06, 2012 18:44 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Do we know if he's stayed clean during the season? I'm not quite sure if this was really that isolated of an incident since Kinsler apparently was worried about Hamilton.

Or maybe it's just the Rangers' way of trying to handle these things during the offseason.

Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine in July of 2009 season but the revelation didn't come out until March of 2010.

Feb 06, 2012 20:24 PM
rating: 0
 
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