Josh Hamilton Must Have a Happy Ending to his Career

I have been saddened to hear about Josh Hamilton’s relapse involving alcohol and cocaine which will likely result in him being suspended by Major League Baseball.

Hamilton was the first pick of the 1999 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and was projected as a can’t-miss prospect. He spent the first two seasons of his career in the minor leagues and was injured in a car accident prior to the 2001 season. It was during the 2001 minor league season that Hamilton began experimenting with alcohol and drugs leading to his first stint in rehab after the 2002 season. hamilton rays

He failed his first drug test during spring training in 2003 and was reassigned to the Devil Rays’ minor league camp where he would pull a “Johnny Manziel” and often show up late for meetings. Before long, Hamilton took the rest of the season off due to personal reasons.

Things continued to go downhill for Hamilton. During spring training in 2004, Hamilton was suspended 30 days and fined for violating the MLB drug policy. Within a month, Hamilton had failed two more drug tests and was suspended the entire 2004 season. The 2005 season was lost after more personal issues occurred when Hamilton smashed the windshield of a friend’s truck. To add insult to injury, Hamilton relapsed again and was suspended by MLB for the entire 2006 season.

So Hamilton was drafted in 1999 and has still not made his major league debut seven years later. Understandably, Hamilton was left off the Rays’ 40 man roster and he was selected third by the Chicago Cubs in the 2006 Rule 5 draft who promptly traded him to the Cincinnati Reds for $100,000. The Reds didn’t know it at the time, but they just acquired a steal on their $100,000 investment. hamilton reds

Finally, on April 2, 2007, Hamilton finally made it to the big show. He had a strong rookie year despite battling injuries. Surprisingly, the Reds traded Hamilton to the Texas Rangers at the end of the season opening the door for a storybook ending for Hamilton.

The starting center field job was won by Hamilton in 2008 and he was voted to start in the all-star game that season. Hamilton was voted to start in the all-star game in 2009, but ended the season with an unspectacular 10 home runs with 54 runs batted in and a .268 batting average.

2010 brought about a season Hamilton could have never imagined during his three years away from baseball. Hamilton was voted to start in his third straight all-star game, smacked 25 home runs, batted in over 100 runs, won the AL batting title with a .359 average, and was awarded the AL MVP Award. He was again an All-Star in 2011 and 2012 where he accumulated the most votes of any player. Sadly, Hamilton’s last season in Texas ended with him striking out during a rally against the Baltimore Orioles who defeated the Rangers 5-1 in the AL Wild Card game.Josh-Hamilton rangers

Free agency came after the 2012 season and Hamilton chose to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for five years and 125 million figuring this would be his last big contract before retirement. During his two years in Los Angeles, Hamilton has only hit a total of 31 home runs and driven in 123 runs while averaging only .257 at the plate as he battled injuries. He went hitless in 13 at bats and was booed by his own fans during the 2014 American League Divisional Series won by the Kansas City Royals.

Hamilton’s latest relapse comes as his career is making a downward spiral. It is obvious his body is getting injured more leading to missed games and lower stats than during his time in Texas. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Introduce Josh Hamilton

Are the injuries and fans getting to Hamilton causing him to turn once again to alcohol and cocaine? Or could it be his moving away from the constant need of an accountability partner who helped Hamilton resist the temptations that hurt the first seven years of his career.

During the 2014 season, Hamilton would fly a friend from his church in Texas to road games and hire another family friend to accompany him to games at Texas and Houston. This is a far change from his accountability partner the previous seven seasons.

What we common folk must understand is that there are constant temptations for professional athletes. Fans constantly fawn at them and alcohol and drugs can be purchased without an issue.

There are still three seasons left on Hamilton’s contract which still owes him over 90 million dollars. He is sure to be suspended to start the season although Hamilton was slated to begin the year on the disabled list as he recovers from surgery on his shoulder last month.

I would hate to see Hamilton’s career end this way. To finally appear in the Major Leagues after seven crazy years was nothing short of remarkable. It has been a feel-good story where fans, players, and those in baseball have admired his mammoth home runs and sliding catches in the outfield. Hamilton has given individuals, athletes or not, the inspiration to overcome obstacles and turn their lives around. Those close to Hamilton and Angels’ teammates and management must get him the help he needs to get back on the field as soon as his suspension ends. He must use his inner faith to get through this difficult time and regain the motivation that helped him win the 2010 MVP Award.

Josh Hamilton needs this happy ending to his career…and so do we!

And that’s…as I see it!

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