Craig Calcaterra

josh hamilton getty

If addiction is an illness — and it is — Josh Hamilton shouldn’t be suspended


Hearing of Josh Hamilton’s relapse is heartbreaking. Whatever you think of him as a player or a person, there is no denying how far he has come and how hard he has worked to turn his life around.

Based on what’s been reported about those days, it’s amazing he didn’t die as a result of his drug use when he was a kid in the Rays’ organization. It’s even more amazing that he missed three full years of development time in the minors — his age 22, 23 and 24 seasons — yet still managed to come back and turn himself into one of the best players in baseball. His recovery has been astounding and inspirational.

But, as even a cursory review of addiction literature reveals, relapse is often — very often depending on various factors related to family history, occupation, etc. — a part of recovery. Hamilton’s has been no different. Since getting back on the baseball track in 2006-07, Hamilton has had at least two relapses that we are aware of. There may have been more. Take away his money and his fame, and his story is, I suspect, like that of a lot of addicts.

Hamilton’s future is now uncertain. Jon Heyman reported last night that some are speculating Hamilton will be put into a rehab program. Initial reports yesterday, however, suggested that Hamilton was in New York for “a disciplinary matter” and a good amount of conversation ensued regarding what sort of “suspension” Hamilton may get and how the Angels will not have to pay Hamilton while he is “suspended.”

We don’t yet know what Major League Baseball will do with Hamilton. I do hope, however, that whatever happens with him, it is not couched in disciplinary terms and is not treated like a suspension as we have come to know them (i.e. exile from team functions, forfeiture of salary, requirement of remediation/apology/etc.).  My knowledge and experience with addiction is pretty limited, but what I have read and what appears to be the case is that rehabilitative, as opposed to punitive measures are far more successful in limiting relapse among addicts. And what seems to be pretty clear is that talking about an addict’s relapses and the challenges he faces as if it were misbehavior, as opposed to illness, is counterproductive and potentially harmful.

Baseball’s assistance and substance abuse programs are said to be good and progressive. I trust that Hamilton will be steered into a situation that helps him get healthy again and helps him find the tools he once had at hand but has, apparently, lost and which have allowed him to overcome his addiction for so long. I do hope, however, that whatever rehabilitation and assistance he is provided is not paired with the usual trappings of punitive action. That whatever else they do to him beyond getting him into a good program does not contribute, inadvertently or otherwise, to the public’s tendency to treat addicts as miscreants or subjects to be shamed.

If that were to happen, I feel like it would be a bad message to send to baseball fans and the public at large, which is likely watching Hamilton’s struggle with addiction far more closely than it would a normal person’s struggle and thus may draw some bad overall conclusions about addiction from this episode. I also feel like it would probably be a bad thing for Josh Hamilton.

If any of you all have some experience or expertise regarding addiction, I’d ask that you weigh in in the comments. I’d be curious to hear some informed thoughts on this.

Matt Kemp thinks the Padres have the best outfield in baseball. I don’t think he’s right about that.

Matt Kemp Getty

Matt Kemp is optimistic about the San Diego Padres’ outfield. From Lyle Spencer at

“Who,” he said, “do you think has the best outfield in the game now?”

The visitor gave it some thought before nominating the American League champion Royals for defensive purposes and the Pirates or Marlins for all-around excellence.

Kemp shook his head. “No,” he said, firmly. “It’s right here. Right here in San Diego. You can write it down — and print it.”

Optimism is good. As is the offensive potential of Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp.

Earlier in his career Upton showed flashes of an MVP-caliber bat and, even if he hasn’t lived up to that, he is a dangerous hitter and serious power threat. Myers was off last year but is just a year removed from a Rookie of the Year campaign and extreme promise as a prospect. Kemp, of course, needs no introduction. He easily could’ve and maybe should’ve been the MVP a few years ago and, after getting healthy last year, put up a second half which quieted a lot of people who said he had fallen off.  If all of thee of these guys hit to their potential, it could be an amazing group at the plate.

Of course, offense is only one part of the equation and forgetting that outfields play defense as well as hit is kind of a problem for the purposes of this exercise.

Kemp’s hips and legs are his weakness and he is now a far below-average defensive outfielder, coming in at -23 in Defensive Runs Saved last year. Myers was at -7 and has very little experience as a center fielder, having spent most time in right. Upton, though statistically the best of the three at 0.0 in Defensive Runs Saved, has never been all that good himself with the leather. It’s also worth noting that Petco Park has a LOT of ground to cover.

So, the best outfield in baseball? I’d have to say no, because running down fly balls and cutting balls off in the gap to hold batters to singles instead of doubles is a pretty big damn part of the game. Especially in a pitchers’ park. Especially in a run-starved era. For that reason I’d take the Marlins, Nationals or Pirates outfield over San Diego’s. And I’d even go so far to say that, if I were a betting man, I’d bet that we’ll see more commentary this summer about the problem of the Padres’ defense than we will see about the Padres’ outfield driving San Diego towards greatness.

Mark Teixeira is in The Best Shape of His Life

Mark Teixeira

This could be a Best Shape of His Life story. Hard to say. But Mark Teixeira is certainly feeling better than he has in a long while:

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is now gluten free, sugar free and dairy free, which he hopes will keep him injury free.

Teixeira’s belief in his new diet and renewed weightlifting program makes him believe that he can stay fully healthy for the first time since 2011. If he does, Teixeira thinks he can be a 30-homer and 100-RBI player again . . . “The way I feel now, I feel like a kid again. I feel like I did a few years ago when I was hitting 30-plus homers and driving in 100 RBIs, playing almost every single day.

He has gained 13 pounds of muscle and eliminated body fat, he says. Given that his injuries the past two season have mostly stemmed from a freak swing during spring training 2013 that caused a wrist injury I’m not sure that being in shape has a ton to do with things, but given all the time off he’s had and the two extra years on the odometer, being in shape is obviously a good idea.

Baseball is actually dying, you guys! In Cuba.


After linking out the first three entries of Jorge Arangure’s wonderful Cuba Diaries over at Vice, I somehow missed one. There are now five total. You can read all of them here. The two latest entries:

1. Baseball may actually be dying in Cuba. At least Jorge thinks so. Why? Kids like soccer more. And baseball’s structure is so strict and formalized, it is losing out to the new and the cool, two commodities that are and will continue to be in increasing supply in Cuba; and

2. Carlos Tabares: the Cuban Derek Jeter. A big star in Cuban baseball in the 1990s 2000s who is still playing today. But a star who, at 40, is too old to have taken advantage of the opportunities now opening up for the Yoan Moncadas and Yasiel Puigs of the world. In this he reflects and entire generation of Cuban people — people in their 40s and 50s — who experienced the nadir of Cuba’s economy and will be too old to truly take advantage of the New Cuba, whatever that ends up looking like.

Like the three other installments of this series, these two are not to be missed.


Adam Lind thinks “there might be a few more smiles with Colby gone”

colby rasmus getty

Adam Lind isn’t even on the Blue Jays anymore — he plays for the Brewers now — but he suspects that the Blue Jays’ clubhouse will be a happier place next season. Specifically because Colby Rasmus is gone:

“They haven’t changed the culture of the clubhouse,” said Adam Lind — traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in November. “They’re my friends, but the guys who still run it are still there. Jose Bautista is the voice among position players and Mark Buehrle runs the starting pitchers.

“There might be a few more smiles with Colby gone.”


You know, Adam: if there are more smiles in Toronto, do you have any guarantee that it’s not because you’re gone?

Well, probably not. Rasmus has been a pretty unpopular guy in two different clubhouses now, so perhaps there’s a legit point here.

(Thanks to Rik for the heads up)