Friday, February 24, 2012

Here's one athlete you have to cheer for, and not because his bat is like a rocket launcher: Josh Hamilton, I wish you joy and sobriety

I'm pulling for Josh Hamilton.

I don't share his religious convictions, at least not in the public way he goes about them. And I sure can't hit a baseball the way he does. But I understand enough about addictions to appreciate what he faces every minute of every day.

Today, according to an elegantly short Associated Press story, he walked into spring training with a Bible in his hand, armed only with Bible verses and, he said, a commitment to counseling. Pardon the metaphor, but that's like standing in against Nolan Ryan with no helmet.

What got me was the admission that his struggle and his daemons will be part of every waking minute for the rest of his life. Let me be the first to say I couldn't face such a realization. I'd stand a better chance of getting a hit off Nolan Ryan than facing a future so tenuous and so difficult.

And Josh Hamilton has to do this under stadium lights, which will never go out even after he leaves the clubhouse. He has to know every time he goes oh-for-four, people will wonder. He has to try to build a stable home life, yet play 81 games on the road. Eighty-one games is nearly one-fourth of a year, and doesn't include spring training or travel days.

I watched his Home Run Derby appearance at Yankee Stadium again recently. The sheer joy on his face and -- I don't know another way to put this -- the sheer joy in his bat, was breathtaking. It doesn't seem fair he should have such a hard road ahead.

But, of course, Josh Hamilton can't look at it that way. He has to see it for what it is, the cards he's been dealt and the work it will take to make his life whole.

I, for one, will be pulling for him.


where you will also find a wonderful, searching, post about Mr. Hamilton's struggles...

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