The Josh Hamilton “Era” Is Over

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If there’s anything I’ve learned about being a fan of the Angels in the last few years, I’ve learned that it’s really not easy and bad things are going to happen. It’s just guaranteed, what with the amount of money that’s been poorly invested, horrible events like Nick Adenhart passing and to a lesser but still traumatizing level, how bad the bullpen was for a few years there. This season, there’s a distinct lack of offensive output, Jered Weaver’s fastball makes Tim Wakefield look like Nolan Ryan and of course, the front office fighting with Josh Hamilton. There’s really never been a long period of time where being a fan was easy, when you could sit back and just enjoy the games. That’s definitely not changing anytime soon, unfortunately.

In what seems to be a move that’s pride based on behalf of owner Arte Moreno, Josh Hamilton has been traded back to the team he left to join the Angels, the Texas Rangers. Yes, the same team that Hamilton left because they weren’t a “baseball city”, which they completely are. Sure, they love their Cowboys and other teams but try to keep in mind that the Rangers haven’t exactly had an easy go of things either. One strike away from winning the World Series in 2011, having to deal with Alex Rodriguez for years, horrible teams in the mid 00’s and Gary Matthews Jr. Anyone who has felt the pain of having Gary Matthews Jr. on their team is no enemy of mine. The city loved Hamilton, even if they got angry after his performance and relapses took center stage over who he is as a person. And so it was said, Hamilton left and joined the Angels.

We find ourselves back at square one here. Hamilton relapsed again. Only this time with a team that has an owner and general manager who believe in accountability. Don’t get me wrong, Arte Moreno definitely wanted Hamilton out of town and when Hamilton got away with relapsing and with no suspension or punishment to speak of, he did what he felt like he had to do. I don’t believe it’s a smart move but there has to be something that we all don’t know of, otherwise this is an extremely prideful and shortsighted transaction. We’ve all seen it, former players come back to bite the team in the ass. Do you really think that Hamilton won’t destroy the Angels from this point forward?

As a former addict, I can understand why people would hate Josh Hamilton. I completely understand the vitriol and the backlash. Baseball fans are some of the most die-hard followers of any professional sport and well, it just doesn’t surprise me. Drugs and addiction are so misunderstood and it’s not even the fault of the people who are quick to judge. If you haven’t been through that personally, it’s almost impossible to get the logic here and you’re very lucky. On the outside, they probably see an entitled, spoiled, nonproductive player that’s had multiple chances to “get right”. They’re probably saying “this dude is a multimillionaire; he’s had several chances, screw that guy and good riddance”. Tough love is the way to go in this situation but the Angels have got this all wrong. Coddling an addict is not the way to fix someone who is going through an issue like this but pure abandonment isn’t either. Take all of that away and you’re still setting an example for the rest of the players in the clubhouse, a really bad one.

Take away the monetary side of this for a moment and think about it.

This man is going through a divorce, selling his home, is performing terribly at his job, everyone watching him do his job hates him (Angels fans), his boss hates him (General Manager), his bosses boss hates him (Owner), his old workplace hated him (Rangers fans) and to top it all off, he has to watch Matt Joyce try to swing a bat. All of that is enough to stress a guy out and although I’m not saying I understand why he would relapse, it simply doesn’t surprise me. Falling into a horrible old habit is extremely common under times of stress and when you feel all alone. It doesn’t give Hamilton an excuse for his actions but it’s not like he’s throwing ice cubes at the Titanic. It just happens to be that Hamilton isn’t in an environment where there’s any sort of tolerance for doing drugs and so ends the Josh Hamilton in Anaheim story, for now.

What this probably comes down to is money. That doesn’t make either side of this situation inherently bad or evil or anything, that’s what their job is, on both sides. Moreno is supposed to care about the money that’s going in and out of the team, he’s the owner of the club. If he didn’t care about the money, he wouldn’t be in the position to be an owner of a baseball team. You have to have that drive, passion and determination to get where he’s at. His personality versus Hamilton’s personality, that battle was never going to work out. Both people have jobs to do, both failed at their jobs in the end and we’ll see where it all goes from here.

All I know is that even though I’ve joked about Hamilton in the past and did get tired of the drama surrounding him, I will definitely miss him. I can remember the day he signed with the Angels and I was pretty damn excited. The thought of him potentially relapsing on cocaine or any other substance didn’t run through my mind, I honestly thought that wouldn’t turn out to be an issue. However, it did and that’s just how life breaks sometimes. Maybe Hamilton will stay sober and play great in Texas, maybe he won’t stay sober and will be shipped out of there as well. No one knows and there’s no point to wishing any ill will on the guy, the situation is over and done with.

I’ll be upset about the team making a bad investment but I won’t be upset at Hamilton. I’ll be upset at the fact that drug addiction cripples far too many people and areas around this country, a country that is supposed to be prosperous. It’s a problem that affects far too many people and although Josh Hamilton may be a bit rough around the edges, that doesn’t mean that he went into 2015 thinking “Ayo, I’m going to do some coke and get my ass shipped out of here. This will go over very well. Yes, this is my master plan!”

Guys, life doesn’t work that way. Josh Hamilton is not a bad person. Arte Moreno is not a bad person. There are no “bad people” in this situation. Arte Moreno has a job to do and although he could’ve gone about all this in a better way, I believe that almost all of us would be so stressed out from the situation that we would maybe even do a worse job. Hamilton didn’t plan for this to happen, it simply did. He’s a human being, one that is prone to making mistakes and who is getting a lot more opportunities to redeem himself than most anyone else.

You’ve got think this is his last one and I truly hope he makes the best of it. He can go the rest of his career with horrible production and play horribly but if he stays sober, I’ll smile and look back on a career that was immensely entertaining. Best of luck to him and go Angels.

With that said, I still think Mo Vaughn was the biggest bust this team has had and I will always dislike him. It doesn’t make any sense. Neither does addiction.