Craig Calcaterra

Josh Hamilton

The Josh Hamilton decision could come as early as next week

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Ken Rosenthal of Fox reports that Major League Baseball’s decision on a punishment for Josh Hamilton could come as early as next week.

As our previous posts on the matter have noted, Major League Baseball seems to want a suspension somwhere between 25 games and a full season. Rosenthal notes thatthe union is arguing for a short suspension paired with rehab, during which Hamilton would be paid during his first 30 days. It’s unclear what the union would advocate for if, after the 30 days, it was determined that Hamilton needed further treatment.

The wait now: the retention of an arbitrator to break the league-union deadlock, which Rosenthal notes should not take long, thus leading to a decision next week.

Our previous Hamilton commentary:

 

UPDATE: Phil Coke to sign a minor league deal with the Cubs

phil coke getty
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UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal says that Coke is going to the Chicago Cubs on a minor league deal.

9:12 AMSportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that free agent lefty Phil Coke is expected to sign tomorrow. Coke has been connected to the Rangers, Royals, and Blue Jays of late.

Coke posted a 3.88 ERA and 41/20 K/BB ratio in 58 innings with the Tigers in 2014, but has been shaky when doing anything other than pitching to lefties. And, due to either insanity or necessity, the Tigers have used him a bit more than they probably should’ve. But assuming he’s not exposed to too many righties, he should be a useful arm for someone.

 

That facts of Josh Hamilton’s case should not be a matter of public record

josh hamilton getty
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If you missed it last night, Major League Baseball is reported to be considering a suspension of Josh Hamilton, possibly as long as a year. My take on how such a penalty would be a horrible and damn nigh obscene idea can be read here.

But one thing I left out of last night’s post was a question: how and why in the hell are the deliberations of the panel considering Josh Hamilton’s fate being released to reporters?

Go read the original report from Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Note just how much detail about the panel’s deliberations are there. We have the makeup of the panel, the content of their deliberations, the status of their deliberations and their plans to move forward. All of which come from “a person familiar with the process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the situation is not supposed to be discussed publicly.”

This, combined with stories last week about the substances which Hamilton was using during his relapse, shows that Major League Baseball has no compunction whatsoever about making Hamilton’s relapse — a tragic and very personal part of an addict’s life which, from what can be told at the moment, is having impacts on his family as well — newspaper fodder. That they’re releasing this information is unconscionable. And that’s before you remember that, per the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement, all of this stuff is supposed to be confidential.

But of course leaks in drug cases are nothing new. You’ll recall that late union director Michael Weiner slammed the leaks in the Biogenesis case two years ago. He said at the time:

“The leaking of confidential information to members of the media interferes with the thoroughness and credibility of the Biogenesis investigation.  These repeated leaks threaten to harm the integrity of the Joint Drug Agreement and call into question the required level of confidentiality needed to operate a successful prevention program. It would be unfortunate if anyone prejudged the results of the investigation based on unsubstantiated leaks that are a clear violation of the Joint Drug Agreement.”

But here we are again.

The entire universe of people who should be privy to information about Josh Hamilton’s relapse and potential punishment is quite small. On baseball’s side: Rob Manfred. His close aides. The panel in question, which is said to have four people on it. A random lawyer or two. On Hamilton’s side: him, his lawyer, Tony Clark and a very small universe of union officials.

How Major League Baseball can’t keep a lid on this, especially given that they’re reportedly still in the middle of it all, is pretty pathetic. And does absolutely nothing to help a drug addict in crisis or to give comfort to any future player with drug problems who want to stay out of the shadows and come into the light.

It’s like the New York Post isn’t even trying anymore

Alex Rodriguez
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While I am opposed to A-Rod bashing, I do love a delicious tabloid cover once in a while. I mean, say what you want about the Post and the Daily News, but “Headless Body In Topless Bar!” is pretty much the height of journalism. And while, sure, it’ll be hard to ever top that one, even your run-of-the-mill daily puns from these rags can induce a chuckle. At times I think the covers are the only things redeeming them.

Which makes today’s New York Post so depressing. No effort at all. No effort to be funny or clever or anything. It’s the most mailed in Post I can recall seeing:

source:

 

I guess it’s spring training for the tabloids too.

Suspending Josh Hamilton for a year would be obscene

josh hamilton getty
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As Drew noted a bit ago, Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna reported that a four-person panel appointed by Major League Baseball is trying to figure out how Josh Hamilton should be handled as a result of his recent relapse. There are a couple of lawyers on this panel, and at least part of the panel’s deliberations involve a legal interpretation of Hamilton’s actions. One of those interpretations, Shaikin and DiGiovanna note, could classify Hamilton as a four-time offender of baseball’s drug rules and could result in him being suspended for as long as a year.

This is madness.

Last week I argued that Hamilton’s drug addiction is a disease, not a bad act by a bad man, and as such should not be treated punitively. That argument was based on what I know about addiction and treatment. That’s not a lot, actually, as I have no expertise in that arena. I just have read a lot and trust professionals who seem to know what they’re talking about. I am, however, well-versed in matters of law, process and punishment, and I can say, with the utmost certainty, that what this MLB panel is reported to be considering is nothing short of obscene.

At its very core, punishment is designed to serve one of three goals or, possibly, some combination of the three:

  • Deterrence: Taking actions which would persuade someone not to do something as a means of preventing that act from happening;
  • Incapacitation: Physically or practically restraining someone from committing an offense again as a means of protecting the public; and
  • Retribution: Punishment in the form of vengeance. A pound of flesh, if you will, as satisfaction for a transgression.

Which of these three purposes would suspending Josh Hamilton — let alone suspending him for a year — serve?

Certainly not deterrence, as the concept of deterrence, by definition, deals with rational actors who can make the choice to not engage in a proscribed behavior. The PED suspensions, for example, serve a deterrence purpose. Addicts, however, are not, by definition, choosing their actions rationally, rendering deterrence inoperative when it comes to to addictive drugs.

Certainly not incapacitation. The only victim of Josh Hamilton’s actions is Josh Hamilton and his family. Baseball is not harmed by Josh Hamilton snorting coke. It is harmed by someone gambling on the game, for example, so the primary basis for punishment of gambling is to literally keep a player or manager who has gambled on baseball away, thereby incapacitating him from affecting outcomes. But this does not apply to Josh Hamilton.

Retribution? Please. The idea of taking a pound of flesh from Hamilton is beyond the pale. This is a man who is suffering and who could be in the process of destroying his life, family and career. Who on Earth is Major League Baseball to come in and say now it needs to see him suffer a bit more? Such an idea is unconscionable.

So, with the traditional basis for punishment standing inapplicable to Josh Hamilton’s situation, what possible basis is there for punishing him at all?

Josh Hamilton is sick. He needs help. It’s possible that the best way for him to be helped is for him to be away from the game for a time. If so — and that’s not at all a given — his time away from the game should be determined by doctors, mental health and substance abuse professionals, Josh Hamilton, his family, to some degree his employer and everyone else who has an actual stake in Josh Hamilton’s life and health. It should not be a punitive measure and should not, by damn sight, be determined by a punitive process.

Oh, and one final thing: Coming off of Alex Rodriguez’s 162-game suspension, a lengthy Josh Hamilton suspension would create the second example of a player who just so happens to have a gigantic contract that is not, financially, a great deal for the team, being subjected to a long, unexpected and unprecedented suspension. It’s bad optics, folks. And it might make some folks wonder if there isn’t a motive, separate and apart from the offender and the offense, for such treatment.

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