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Over the offseason, Josh Hamilton's accountability partner - Johnny Narron - left the Texas Rangers to become the hitting coach with the Milwaukee Brewers. Recently, Josh Hamilton relapsed with alcohol and had to hold a press conference to explain and apologize. It's possible that these events are connected. It's possible that these events are not connected. In any case, Hamilton now has a new accountability partner. Richard Durrett:
The Texas Rangers announced Tuesday night that Shayne Kelley has been named a major league staff assistant and part of his duties will be to support Josh Hamilton.
Kelley won't only help support Hamilton. He'll also do some coaching things. But Hamilton's probably his primary assignment, or at least his most important assignment. Kelley accompanied Hamilton to New York on Monday for a meeting with league and union doctors. I guess this is the sort of thing that an accountability partner does.
Here's Durrett on Kelley's background:
Kelley has a religious background as team chaplain at Alabama from 1996-99. Kelley has been around baseball at the college and high school level for more than 15 years, including a two-year stint as minor league strength and conditioning coach for the Kansas City Royals.
Kelley's job is complicated to perform, but on some level it's simple to evaluate: if Hamilton does well, Kelley's done well. If Hamilton doesn't do well, Kelley hasn't done well. We are all, of course, wishing for the former.
Drew Davison of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has a summary of what Daniels said; here’s the most cogent quote:
“There are a number of emotions, a number of thoughts,” Daniels said. “We talk a lot about how we view ourselves as a family. When someone in your family has a mistake, however you want to term it, there are a lot of emotions involved. One was disappointment, but the overriding emotion was concern for Josh and for his family.”
Daniels reiterated what Hamilton said in his remarks, that the team doesn’t consider this a baseball story, but it’s about his family and the Rangers want to get him all the help he needs going forward. They have no timetable for beginning any contract extension negotiations; Daniels said that helping Hamilton with this issue is more important.
Jeff Allison got up Friday morning to get ready to go to work at a local baseball facility and coach kids. Then he read the headline about Josh Hamilton.
"It tore me apart," said Allison. "I know. I've been there."
Allison knows alright, and when he crawled through the wreckage of substance abuse to make the 2008 Florida State League All-Star Game, Hamilton called him the day after his historic Home Run Derby performance at Yankee Stadium to congratulate him.
Allison got clean, with Loria's help. He addressed groups of Minor Leaguers. But once he hurt his elbow, the stuff never came back.
And now, at 27, he is 62 months clean, trying to find his balance and help kids stay away from his demons. Today, he cares about Hamilton, "Because if you haven't gone through this, you have no idea how it tears at you. Josh will make it through. He will succeed. He will be great. I say it from a different vantage point than many other people. I've been there. I know. And I know that in the end, Josh will win and continue to be a superstar. If I could help him as he helped me, I would, but he may not need anyone else, because he will make it."
Of course Allison can't know that. Not for sure. But that doesn't mean we can't hope he's right.
From Steven Goldman's take on the Josh Hamilton Story:
As for the moral issue, I simply say this: Shut up. Judge not, for addiction is never simple and is rarely just a matter of mere disregard of self or weakness. There but for the grace of God go you, and I as well: I was lucky enough to have had an object lesson that I was unable to rationalize away, or I might be there myself. You, though, maybe you are made of sterner stuff. Maybe you were just too smart to get snared—or maybe you’re just not built the way someone like Hamilton is, where your body craves intoxication from your very first beer onward. Whatever the cause, that smugness, that easy superiority, can come at a high human cost.
This is just a flavor. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. You'll be a little smarter after, probably.
Josh Hamilton recently had a few drinks. Josh Hamilton is slated to become a free agent after this season, and is open to signing a contract extension with the Texas Rangers. For most players, these two sentences wouldn't have anything to do with one another. But, of course, Josh Hamilton is Josh Hamilton, soooo...
This is how Hamilton concluded his Friday statement:
I am sorry it had to be this way. It would've been nice if it was talking about a contract, but we'll put that on the backburner for a while.
And here's general manager Jon Daniels, via Danny Knobler:
Rangers GM Daniels on Hamilton contract talks: "Right now there's more important things to deal with."
Sensible and unsurprising enough. I, uh... yeah, I don't really know what to write here.life is more important than Josh Hamilton's baseball career. Yeah, that just makes me sound like a moron. Basically, right now there's more important things to deal with than Josh Hamilton's contract status. Jon Daniels said it exactly right. Except for the "there's" part. It should be "there're", as "more important things" is plural. This is hardly the time to be colloquial.
Someone's fingers are tired. From the Dallas Morning News, we have a full transcript of Josh Hamilton's news conference, which lasted about 10 minutes. Again, you'll have your own opinions, but it's worth noting that this all came without prepared notes in front of him:
But anytime I drink, there is a point that comes where the switch flips and you never know when that point will be reached. It might be first three or four, or the 15th, and that's what's so dangerous about it. Things happen to me personally that I'm not proud of after I drink, they are personal and being handled as that.
It starts with an apology and ends with an apology, and in the middle, there are a whole lot of words about Monday night. He explained how teammate Ian Kinsler became involved, the organization's role in his struggles, his wife and family ... if you didn't see the press conference, it's worth a read.
So by now we all know that Josh Hamilton recently relapsed by having a few alcoholic drinks. A large part of me thinks it's regrettable that we all know about Josh Hamilton's relapse, but celebrity is celebrity and this is our world. Josh Hamilton had a few drinks. This is the big Friday story. Maybe this is the big Friday story. I understand there's a football game on Sunday but I'm pretty sure they already played that football game a few years ago.
This is the second time that Hamilton has relapsed since October 2005. At least, we think this is the second time that Hamilton has relapsed since October 2005. I don't mean to insinuate that Hamilton is a liar or anything but we can't completely dismiss the possibility that there have been other instances. Anyway, from last time, a thing:
"I'd hesitate to say it's something we're going to put behind us, but we're not going to allow this to become a distraction the rest of the season," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
The Rangers had a zero tolerance policy. The Rangers might still have a zero tolerance policy. It's just hard to know what that policy means. The policy clearly doesn't state that Hamilton will be removed from the team in the event of a relapse. It probably says that, in the event of a relapse, Hamilton must immediately seek treatment. Which he did, and which he's going to do.
Josh Hamilton: two fleeting relapses, years apart. It's such a big story. It's such a not-big story. I wish that we didn't have this story.
Press conferences that follow some sort of breaking controversy are rarely interesting. They're usually a promotional vehicle for a carefully prepared statement written by people who get paid a lot of money to write carefully prepared statements. That's the template, usually.
Josh Hamilton sat in front of a lot of cameras and just talked. I suppose it wasn't that risky -- it's not like Hamilton was going to start swearing and threatening people. It was a prepared statement, in that Hamilton presumably had a great idea of what he was or wasn't going to say. But it was riskier than we might think. It wasn't what we should expect from the next professional athlete who gets caught up in something controversial.
I suppose if it's time to be cynical, there's a chance the press conference will kick off a spate of articles expressing admiration for Hamilton's forthrightness. Then there will be the backlash to those articles. Then there will be the backlash to the backlash. The Internet.
But it's hard not to appreciate the trust that the Rangers had in Josh Hamilton, encouraging him to address the media in this way. Hamilton talked about how he can be sneaky and deceptive when he's drinking. He admitted that "90 percent of the time, I'm fine," acknowledging how tough that other 10 percent can be. This press conference wasn't filled with boilerplate "I know this is wrong" comments, at least not in moments like that. There was humanity in a situation that could have been handled with a pablum-filled press release.
You will judge for yourself what happened Monday, and how Hamilton handled the aftermath. I think we can agree that it was handled in a unique way that we probably won't see again for a while.
He had no notes, no agent, no one in front of the cameras but himself. He took full responsibility for his actions, saying, “I give everything I have on the field. When I don’t do that off the field I leave myself open for a weak moment. I had a weak moment on Monday night.”
He went on to describe the evening’s events, including at one point joining his teammate Ian Kinsler. He said Kinsler did not see him drink, because, as Hamilton said, “Once I drink I can be very deceptive, very sneaky.”
Hamilton made no excuses. He said he was simply doing something that did not work for him; he said he has used no drugs and has been tested twice since Monday’s events.
It was just wrong. I needed to be in a different place, I needed to be responsible and I was not responsible. Those actions of mine have hurt a lot of people who are close to me. The Rangers have shown nothing but support to me and they say they’ll continue to support me.
I cannot take a break from my recovery. It is an everyday process. When I take that one day off it leaves me open for a moment of weakness.
He then issued a remarkable apology — to his family, his children, anyone he had hurt, his fans and the Rangers organization. There was no prepared statement as he spoke off the cuff:
For everybody I have hurt, for everybody, fans, kids, people who have addictions who look to me — I apologize to you. When you’re doing this, you don’t mean to hurt anybody, and it hurt a lot of people. I have a lot to look at. I can’t take a break. How hard I play on the field is how hard I have to focus on my recovery. I ask everybody watching and listening to pray for me and my family at this difficult time. I put my wife through a lot, she’s a strong woman. It’s about time for me to become the strong one and take the lead and stepping up and being the man I’m supposed to be and not put my kids in situations like this.
He ended by saying he’ll be flying to New York to meet with MLB and MLBPA doctors; that he feels “terrible” and “let a lot of people down” and finished by praising the Rangers organization, saying:
It’s awesome to be able to work for somebody who really cares about you, and has been great to my family too.
It’s one of the most extraordinary public statements made in recent years by a professional athlete; much credit to Josh Hamilton for his apparent openness and honesty.
Reminder: No one really knows anything yet, and we're all just playing a game of telephone about a very serious issue. There's a press conference coming up with Josh Hamilton shortly, in which he'll supposedly explain his relapse. But one of the more interesting details that's emerged so far is that Hamilton's teammate, Ian Kinsler, was at the tavern where Hamilton reportedly imbibed alcohol. From Jon Morosi:
Gerry Fraley reporting Ian Kinsler was at the bar in an apparent attempt to persuade Josh Hamilton to return home.
The earliest reports were that Kinsler was at the tavern with Hamilton, which surely made some folks form all sorts of angry opinions about Ian Kinsler. Then came the context, that pesky thing. This is why snap-judgements are so horrible with stuff like this.
And why was Kinsler there? Again, there's no way to know just yet, but it seems possible, if not probable, that Hamilton called him for help. It's not like Hamilton had a haunt where everyone knew he was going to be, right?
Heck, I don't know. You don't either. Hamilton does, and he's going to talk about it in a carefully prepared statement soon. And apparently Ian Kinsler knows something about what happened because he was there.
No one has the same definition of addiction. Some people will define it as a disease. Some will define it as a moral failing. Each side thinks the other side is filled with reprehensible people. You can see how this Josh Hamilton story will bring out goofballs from all sides.
And when it comes to writing about it, here's how it works: News of Josh Hamilton's reported relapse broke last night, and people had to form instant opinions on it. There's no time for nuance or reflection. This means that you'll get some great, heartfelt stuff. This also means that you'll get loathsome bleating from people who don't know how to turn off the bleat-o-matic when a situation requires it.
First, from Steven Goldman, you get the good stuff. The entire article is worth reading, but my favorite part was this:
As for the moral issue, I simply say this: Shut up. Judge not, for addiction is never simple and is rarely just a matter of mere disregard of self or weakness.
That works with things other than addiction. Poverty. Fidelity. Or to bring it back to baseball a bit, performance-enhancing drugs. The best way to look stupid is to point fingers and judge after knowing a fraction of a sliver of a part of the context.
That's the good stuff, the writing with the appropriate amount of self awareness. Then you get to the bleating, like this, from Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Hamilton repeatedly gives the hardball speech to the media of granting the Rangers no hometown discount in money because he owes it to the union to get all he can get to boost the contractual benefits of those players coming up behind him.
Great. So where was the union Monday night?
What the ...
But at some point, loyalty matters, or at least it should, although I'm not sure Josh, as a baseball businessman, actually agreed where his loyalty should have been focused.
I guess that nuance is just some sort of newfangled dance music that the kids are listening to these days. Shades of gray don't make for compelling copy. A report of Hamilton at a bar, having a drink, can be cast only as a damning judgment on Hamilton. There is no other explanation. Also, the union's involved. Somehow. And the Freemasons.
You'll read a lot about Josh Hamilton today if you're so inclined. You probably aren't going to read anything better or worse than these two articles.
The worst part about Josh Hamilton’s relapse is that he didn’t care. The most famous addict in sports does not go to a bar in the town where he is best known without full knowledge that his exploits will become public in a matter of hours. That it took three full days for Hamilton’s latest relapse to go viral – and that incriminating pictures have yet to surface – is something of a miracle.
Passan goes on to say that Hamilton’s possible contract extension is “gone”, and later in the same article:
Hamilton does care, of course, even if for the tiniest sliver of time it eluded him.
Passan’s message is confusing, and whenever writing about topics like this, it’s difficult for anyone who doesn’t suffer from addiction the way Hamilton does to truly understand, as Craig Calcaterra points out:
It’s easy for those of us who do not have experience with addiction to frame this as a black and white issue and think of it as Josh Hamilton making a bad choice. But from what I understand from those who know more about this, the essential nature of alcoholism is that, subjectively speaking, the person doesn’t have a choice. Or doesn’t feel like they’re making one at the time. It’s a compulsion. Reason is cast to the wind. It’s the very thing that separates a person who can handle alcohol from one who can’t.
Craig goes on to say his reaction is primarily “sadness”, and that’s quite true. This isn’t something that ought to be subject to instant analysis, probably the reason the Rangers haven’t made public comment yet.
For more on Hamilton and the Rangers, please visit Lone Star Ball.
Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, whose past struggles with drugs and alcohol are well-documented, reportedly suffered a relapse earlier this week. Hamilton reportedly drank alcohol in a local Dallas bar on Monday, though details of the relapse were unavailable.
The report, citing sources familiar with the situation, comes from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. Fraley also notes this is the second time Hamilton relapsed, with a similar, but perhaps more serious, incident occurring in 2009.
This was Hamilton's second alcohol-related relapse in just over three years. In January, 2009, he drank to excess in a bar in Tempe, Ariz.
A day after that episode, Hamilton informed his family, the Rangers and Major League Baseball of what he had done. He passed a drug test that day and later participated in a MLB-mandated counseling program.
The Rangers are aware of the situation, but did not comment on the matter. It's unclear what comes next for Hamilton, who is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
For more on Hamilton and the Rangers, visit Lone Star Ball.
Last week, the Rangers announced that Josh Hamilton's accountability partner would be Hamilton's father-in-law, Michael Dean Chadwick. Hamilton, who struggled with drug addiction while a minor leaguer with the Rays, has had an accountability partner since making the majors -- Johnny Narron, who served as the Rangers' assistant hitting coach, but he left to join the Brewers as their hitting coach. Narron's departure led to Chadwick accepting the job for a few days before deciding against it.
Josh Hamilton's father-in-law, Michael Dean Chadwick, decided not to accept the position as Hamilton's accountability partner due to "family considerations," the club announced.
And those family considerations were elaborated on in a follow-up article:
Chadwick's daughter, Krista, is 17 and currently a junior in high school. He said he wanted to spend as much time with her as he could before she heads off to college.
The article mentions that Hamilton went out with teammates without the help of an accountability partner last season, and that Hamilton isn't sure that he needs the help anymore. But a source told ESPN Dallas that the role would be filled before the season began.
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