The baseball world was thrown for a collective loop earlier this year when out of nowhere, the Angels signed a player that was widely expected to not be on the team. This is a common occurrence of sorts for the ballclub these days, as evidenced by the CJ Wilson/Albert Pujols acquisitions. The player obtained was star slugger Josh Hamilton, he of the home run launching and unfortunate clutch situation weaknesses. With the signing of Hamilton, the Halos are widely expected to win the division with the everyday lineup they’ll put out there, plus the added extra benefit of taking their biggest rival’s best player, the Texas Rangers and Hamilton himself. Let it be said that many expected Hamilton to leave the lone star state but no one could have predicted that he would end up moving to Southern California, most expected him to sign with a team like the Baltimore Orioles.
While in Texas, Hamilton was a hero to many, the future of what they hoped was a championship winning team. I can remember game six of the last World Series the Rangers made it to, Hamilton hit an unbelievable home run that should’ve clinched the title but the St. Louis Cardinals had other plans, as David Freese will tell you willingly. After that season, the state seemed to have turned on him as a player occasionally and with a relapse in his sobriety, slowly yet swiftly, as a person. After the Rangers’ last game in the 2012 season, you could see what was going to happen in Hamilton’s post-game facial expressions, he had enough of the booing.
Hamilton’s career has been a well publicized story, with it beginning at a very high peak. He was a star prospect, first signed by Tampa Bay. Many expected him to become what he is today, perhaps the most prolific home run hitter in the entire league but alas, that was not meant to be. Like Caesar being stabbed in the back, his addictions to alcohol and several drugs got him, in a time in his life when he was probably the only thing that could hold him from superstardom. Hamilton would disappear from baseball for many years, most expecting to never see or hear from him again. It was a true tragedy but as some turn out to be, the story ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
As a young man growing up in a peculiar generation, I am not blind to the drug use and alcoholism that Hamilton suffered/suffers from. Even those who are older, you are most likely quite aware of the growing problems in this country. Prescription pill abuse, alcoholism, alcohol poisoning, MDMA, the list goes on to once unimaginable heights. It’s certainly not like celebrities and those of a certain wealth are immune from the dangers of life, you read about it in the newspaper every day, these people who, to some, “should know better, as their life is already great.” Essentially, many believe that they are set for life.
It simply isn’t that way.
When I look at Josh Hamilton, I see a player who is fighting a daily struggle, one much heavier than the bat hitting the seams on a red striped baseball. Hamilton, looking back in retrospect, faced an immense amount of pressure. Pressure is a normal part of everyday life for most people, knowing your decisions will effect what happens, seconds, minutes, and hours from that paused moment. One can only wonder what he was going through at a young age, when you are expected to be the best in the world at what you do. Personally, I write. I’m not the best writer in the world and if a wide majority of the general public expected me to be, I honestly don’t know how I would react. At the very least, any talent that I had previously would be under a microscope, with millions holding the sample. Plus, I’m no saint.
Hamilton would get his career back on track with the Cincinnati Reds, the team that gave him another chance. He succeeded with flying colors, eventually being traded to the Rangers in a lucrative trade that featured Edinson Volquez, a trade that would forever change his future. He would relapse later in his career and what bothered me wasn’t the fact that he relapsed, seeing as he apologized and that’s one man’s personal business. What I took issue with is the fact that after his brief transgression, the sports world looked at Hamilton and wondered what this event would do for the next contract he received.
As much as I love sports, especially baseball, this is a human being we’re talking about here. Texas wasn’t the right environment for Hamilton; I don’t believe they have the right combination of intangibles that he needs to succeed, as a person. Hamilton is strong in his faith and I believe that will carry him quite far. We’ve all heard his story of addiction and eventually redemption but one factor that is being forgotten in most of the baseball world is the fact that now, he will play for the best fans in the world.
Sure, Anaheim fans will boo a player but it takes a lot. Well, unless your name is Jeff Mathis, then you might as well have a giant “kick me” sign tattooed across your back like a Bon Jovi tramp stamp. Other than him or opposing players, we’re all a giant family. Evidence of this can be seen at the Annual AngelsWin (shoutout!) Fan Festival that took place today in Arizona, we’re all there for each other. With that being said, if Hamilton gets off to a slow start or relapses again, will the city and team stand strong with them?
That’s yet to be seen but I know, I will. I believe most of us will and that may bring the team what it's been searching for, for over ten years.
Not only a championship but a team that has each other's backs, brothers in arms, beating the pressure to come out on top in the show.