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.