Josh Hamilton

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Josh Hamilton’s California house is for sale


Normally I headline these things “wanna buy [player’s] house?” This time it’s somewhat newsworthy, however, as Josh Hamilton’s Orange County, California house is for sale. Newport Beach, to be precise. The pictures and details can be seen here. I’d almost say that it’s a nice place for a Real Housewife.

The Angels are, quite apparently, keeping Hamilton away from the team. Indeed, team owner Arte Moreno, when asked on April 10 if Hamilton would ever play for the Angels again, said “I will not say that.”

With this listing, perhaps Hamilton is saying so himself.

Mike Scioscia is concerned that Josh Hamilton is not “getting the help he needs”

josh hamilton angels getty

Alden Gonzalez of reports that Angels manager Mike Scioscia met with Josh Hamilton when the Angels arrived in Houston for this weekend’s series. Scioscia said the meeting “went well,” but voiced concern over Hamilton’s limbo state:

[Scioscia] said there’s still “no clarity that he’s getting the help he needs.”

“That’s a major concern,” Scioscia told MLBNetwork Radio on Friday morning, roughly nine hours before the series opener against the Astros from Minute Maid Park.

Perhaps one of the problems is that the Angels have taken away a good sense of Hamilton’s structure of late. He is eligible to be with the team but the team has informally cut ties with him, giving his locker away and scrubbing Angels Stadium of his existence as if he were the target of a Stalin-era political purge. “Josh Hamilton? Who’s Josh Hamilton?” the Angels seem to be saying. “Is he that guy who owes us money?”

Whatever support Josh Hamilton needs is best decided by Hamilton, his doctors, substance abuse counselors, his family and his faith. But if what Hamilton needs is baseball structure and the support of his employer, he’s sure as hell not getting it from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

As I said this morning: they need to reinstate him or they need to let him go play for another team who is willing to have him around.

Not all teams turn their backs on players with drug problems

Jeremy Jeffress

As the Angels’ appalling treatment of Josh Hamilton wears on, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reminds us that not all teams turn their back on players with drug problems in a craven effort to recoup some money they agreed to pay. For example, the Milwaukee Brewers and their treatment of pitcher Jeremy Jeffress, who was twice suspended for marijuana use while in the minor leagues:

Jeffress, suspended for 50 games in 2007, and 100 games in 2009, had the Brewers awaiting him with open arms. They placed him in drug rehabilitation centers after each suspension, and if not for them, Jeffress wonders whether he’d even have a baseball career.

Jeffress and his agent both wonder how the Angels could be doing what they’re doing. So do I. So do many people.

The Angels should either welcome Hamilton back, stop the media campaign and stop their attempts to circumvent his contract or they should simply release him and allow him to get on with his career with another club. That they’re unwilling to do either of those things reflects terribly on them as a club and on its owner as a human being.

The Commissioner’s Office thinks that the Angels could indeed go after Josh Hamilton under his contract

josh hamilton getty

Last week Angels owner Arte Moreno claimed that there was language in Josh Hamilton’s contract which may allow the club to go after Hamilton and claw back some money from him as a result of his recent relapse. This despite the fact that, under the Joint Drug Agreement, Hamilton is not subject to any discipline.

Soon after Moreno’s comments, I reported that Josh Hamilton’s contract does not contain any language relating to substance abuse issues that would supersede the Joint Drug Agreement and that, in fact, any language in his contract that even suggests the club may go after him is no different than general boilerplate identical to that contained in other Angels players contracts, including that of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The union followed that up with a forceful statement denying that the club has any rights with respect to Hamilton that supersede the JDA or the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Commissioner’s office has weighed in, however, and they got Arte’s back:

MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday: “We obviously have a different view than the players’ association regarding the club’s rights under these circumstances.”

Halem declined to comment further.

This is the sort of thing that could very well lead to another arbitration over Hamilton, his contract and his fate. At least if Arte Moreno and the Angels try to pursue legal action against him.

It is also the sort of thing which, if truly believed by the league and ratified by arbitration, would blow a gigantic hole in the fundamental understanding that has existed for the past decade regarding the preeminence and control of the JDA and CBA when it comes to drug matters. Indeed, the supremacy of the JDA and the uniformity of drug rules for each and every player are two key pillars to the program. Of course, so too is confidentiality and we see how much Major League Baseball and the clubs seem to care about that.

Between this stance and the approach MLB took with Alex Rodriguez in the Biogenesis matter (i.e. suspending a player for a year despite it only being a first offense) it’s hard to deny that Major League Baseball believes that it can change the deal it made with the players on a whim. It will be interesting to see if the union and its membership finally show that they’ve had enough of this and try to stop it.

When it comes to Josh Hamilton, Arte Moreno is a craven opportunist, not a “smart businessman”

Arte Moreno

Over at The Guardian today, Jon Bernhardt takes on one aspect of the Josh Hamilton-Angels drama that has some greater applicability to how fans approach the business of baseball as a whole: worship of the smart business decision.

Bernhardt relays the back and forth between the Angels and Hamilton which we’ve been talking about here. But goes on to note that, even if a lot of people are starting to think that owner Arte Moreno is being unreasonable in his actions, hardly anyone is noting just how free a pass he’s getting for his motives. Which are, quite clearly, to claw back as much of the $83 million the Angels agreed to pay Hamilton in the first place.

The reason so many are willing to give him a free pass on that? Because so many of us tend to equate a smart business decision with virtuous behavior:

This is the business savvy we claim to love in our rich – the weird sociopathy of the Business Decision, where men like Moreno simply must engage in whatever behavior it is that theoretically leads to them swimming in the largest pile of gold coins possible, because money is its own morality . . . The fact of the matter is that many people – a majority, perhaps – will see this as a smart business decision instead of craven opportunism, because in our society there is no clear distinction between the two. Perhaps there never was.

This is a subset of the overall fan view that players should be criticized and, on occasion, excoriated for going for an extra dollar while owners who make magnitudes greater sums off of baseball while not playing an inning of it are hardly ever questioned about it. And it’s not just some reflexive anti-union, pro-management stance, though there is some of that at play. It’s a straight up class warfare argument about stinkin’ rich ballplayers that, amazingly, doesn’t follow through and condemn the amazingly more stinkin’ rich owners. It’s incoherent, frankly, but it’s so, so common.

But really, that’s what’s going on with the Hamilton stuff. People are disapproving of Hamilton’s acts, which are borne of addiction and not malice, yet they will nod at Moreno’s efforts to not pay Hamilton, which are borne out of greed and, maybe, a side of brains.