On Wednesdays I do this thing where I spend an hour on the phone doing 6-7 radio spots in various cities around the country. This morning almost every host asked me something about Josh Hamilton. And almost every one of them couched their Hamilton question to me in terms that suggest that they were dumbfounded that Josh Hamilton didn’t get the book thrown at him as a result of his recent relapse.
Most good radio hosts — and the folks with whom I do my little radio tour are good hosts — reflect general fan sentiment, so I think it’s safe to assume that the general public has the same question. They’re also shocked that Hamilton was not punished. Some, based on some comments here at HBT, view Hamilton situation as one in which he gained some lucky windfall. As if it’s some crazy desirable thing to get to be a drug addict and not be punished for it.
What I think most of these people are missing is that, for the most part, a drug addict lives in a special hell. Maybe Hamilton’s is superficially more comfortable given his wealth, but it’s a hell all the same. Over at The Classical Jeremy Horton — himself an addict — tries to describe that hell and does so in extraordinarily vivid terms. And notes that, against the backdrop of an addict’s life, what Josh Hamilton has done with himself for the past decade has been nothing short of extraordinary:
What needs to be remembered – and what the Angels organization apparently never bothered to learn in the first place – is that addiction is an extremely personal thing and that there’s no way anybody on the outside can know what is best for Hamilton right now. What also needs to be understood and stressed emphatically is, near-miraculous baseball comeback aside, what’s most impressive is that out of the last 3,452 days, he has been sober for roughly 3,449 of them . . .
. . . It is often said in baseball, if you fail seven out of 10 times, you are a success. Hamilton, in his battle with addiction, has failed three out of 3,452 times. He is an unbelievably tremendous success. And he’s an inspiration to millions of us struggling with substance abuse every day, because we understand that addiction never goes away.
Horton’s read is not an easy one. But it’s one worth reading. Especially if you’re the sort who is inclined to think Josh Hamilton somehow got away with something. Or if anything that Major League Baseball could’ve done to him could hold a candle to what he has gone through these past 3,452 days.
(thanks to Allison for the heads up)