Last year Josh Hamilton famously struggled with quitting chewing tobacco, which led to cryptic comments about “personal issues” and coincided with struggles at the plate. Nolan Ryan criticized Hamilton for trying to quit during the season. Hamilton himself characterized it as a struggle to maintain “obedience to the Lord,” which presumably means Hamilton views chewing tobacco, or not, as a matter that goes to his very soul.
So this, from Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, is interesting:
Josh Hamilton finished a workout with the team’s strength and conditioning coach Tuesday afternoon, went into the Angels’ dugout for some water, took a small wad of chewing tobacco out of his mouth and flung it to the floor.
Asked if he had resumed chewing tobacco after quitting last July — a move that led to withdrawal symptoms and may have contributed to his second-half slump with Texas — Hamilton said, “No comment.”
He later tried to downplay the issue to DiGiovanna, asking “is this really a story?” Normally, probably not. But given that Hamilton has decided this is an issue of his faith and his sobriety — and given how explicit Hamilton has been that his faith and his sobriety are an essential part of his baseball career — yes, it is kind of an issue when he’s the guy dipping.
I don’t think anyone on the planet besides Hamilton and his family truly cares if he uses tobacco. Most just want him to hit the ball, some probably want him to be content, healthy and happy, and some probably want him to be a good role model. But this was something Hamilton considered important. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to be OK making the reasonable distinction between a dip on the diamond and the other threats to his faith and sobriety that so many others are but with which he has had so many problems.
A brutal couple of updates on the night of Jose Fernandez’s death from Jeff Passan of Yahoo and from Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald.
Passan reports on the leadup to the fateful boat trip. About how a friend of one of the other men killed on the boat had pleaded with him not to go out in the dark. Then there’s this:
After Saturday’s game, Fernandez had asked a number of teammates to join him on the boat. One by one, they declined.
Marcell Ozuna was one of them. Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald reports:
Following Monday’s game, Ozuna said he turned down an invitation from Fernandez after Saturday night’s game to go out with him and join him for a spin on his boat . . . “That night I told him, ‘Don’t go out,’” Ozuna said. “Everybody knew he was crazy about that boat and loved being out on the water. I told him I couldn’t go out that night because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me.
Losing a friend and teammate under such circumstances is brutal enough. Adding on survivor’s guilt would be close to impossible to bear.
David Ortiz has used Derek Jeter’s Player’s Tribune as his personal podium all year as he says goodbye to the Major Leagues. He continues that today, on the eve of his final series against the Yankees.
In it Ortiz talks about what playing the Yankees meant to him over the course of his career. About how the fan hate was real but something he embraced. About how the series back in the days of Jeter and Pettitte and Mariano and Mussina were “wars.” He also talks about how the Yankees were basically everything when he was growing up in the Dominican Republic. The only caps and shirts you saw were Yankees shirts and how they were about the only team you could see on TV there. As such, coming to Boston and then playing against the Yankees was a big, big deal.
Ortiz says “[s]ome players are born to be Yankees, you know what I’m saying? I was born to play against the Yankees.”
And he’ll get to do it only three more times.