Time for a Major League Intervention

Josh Hamilton.jpgOkay, I’m through dancing around this touchy subject, folks.  I’m ready to face it and call it what it is: MLB is obsessed with “recovering” drug addicts and their attempts to get [back] into the big leagues.

If you’re like me (intelligent, charming, full of yourself) then you are decent enough to realize that yes, the Josh Hamilton story is important.  It proves that that we, as human beings, do have the ability to overcome adversity and reach the highest levels of success despite our shortcomings if we’re determined, disciplined, good hearted and humble.  That much is true.

However, when a player such as Josh Hamilton can no longer be recognized as anyone other than an ex/recovering junkie who just happens to be a successful baseball player, that’s when I have a problem. 

And the problem is growing…

Because now Major League Baseball, realizing that the Hamilton story may be losing some of its saleability due to overuse, is desperate to find its next “Josh Hamilton” in Marlins’ prospect Jeff Allison.

Jeff who?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too. 

And as we find ourselves down to the last six weeks of the regular season, where heated division races are made and/broken, where teams break away from the pack while others fade to black, MLB.com’s front page today ignored all of that and featured a prospect no one has ever heard of — solely because he’s a “recovering” drug addict — “like Josh Hamilton.”

jeff allison story.jpgDear readers, fear not, for I do not belittle the feats of these gentlemen in any way.  Honestly, having battled my own personal demons, like Hamilton and Allison, I am no stranger to overcoming the obstacles of addiction.  Indeed, I applaud them for their perseverance, their humility, their spirit.  They are not the ones to blame here.

We should be shaking a finger at Major League Baseball, the media and every other story-hungry leech out there who can’t see Hamilton (and now Allison) as anything but a story to sell. 

Google Hamilton’s name and see how many entries pop up that don’t mention his drug addiction.  Watch a Rangers game without hearing about Hamilton’s “incredible comeback”.  Bring up Hamilton’s name in any place in Anytown, USA and see what the discussion centers around.  His talent?  His numbers?  No. 

His drug habit.

That’s all you’ll hear.  That’s all anyone cares about.  But let me tell ya somethin’…

Addiction is not a character trait.

Addiction is not a reason to judge.

Addiction is a disease.  And just like leukemia, multiple sclerosis or pneumonia, this disease does not define the afflicted.  It is merely an obstacle: a hindrance to be overcome, defeated and moved passed but never one to ultimately define the character, the nature or the existence of the one who was chosen to endure its pain.

Don’t hate me, ‘cuz I couldn’t be any more right on this one.

Peace,

Jeffy

10 Comments

It’s a serious problem that we can only see them in this light. Unless you’ve been under a rock or in a coma for quite a while, you’ve heard this story. So we need to get over the “incredible story of Josh Hamilton” and focus on his athletic prowess, which is pretty impressive too. Plus, what the hell is a minor league start by no one that matters yet and this blog doing on the front page of MLB.com? Just kidding about the last one, congrats on having that silly quote on the front page.

I see your point, but I don’t really blame MLB. Baseball has become synonymous with steroids. The only way MLB can clean up the “image” is by promoting stories such as that of Josh Hamilton. Though one should not be defined by their addictions or past mistakes, in Ham’s case, it doesn’t hurt if his story can inspire people, even other ballplayers to play clean. Hambone himself is using his story to help people not make the same mistake as he did. However, yes, as you said, the guy isn’t just a former drug addict. He’s a great ballplayer who deserves to praised or criticized for his performance on the field like next ballplayer.
V – http://flairforthedramatic.mlblogs.com

Well said. Reading the article it actually implies that his problems began due to his early success and fame. So let’s put him on the front page of MLB and see how he deals with that! I think it’s unfair to put this kind of pressure on a fairly average minor league player just becasue MLB wants a feel good story.

http://arizonaviaslough.blogspot.com/

My mouth just dropped as I read your easy flowing words and then a big smile covered my face. When will the big shots at MLB finally see this talent and call you up to the big leagues and make their site that much better?????

Agree on most of that – I prefer to think of how jaw-dropping Hamilton’s numbers are in the context of him simply being out of baseball for so long, regardless of the reason, instead of the addiction. However, addiction as a disease? That’s simply your body craving something (harmful or not) you put in it far too often for your own good. Perhaps you might have more of a genetic predilection to “need” a certain drug or activity or whatever, but that’s still not really a disease. Regardless, good entry.
http://cubtastic.mlblogs.com

Good comments, all.
Neal — It might not be such a silly comment if it comes true. Both the Yanks and Sox have a way to go.
V — Yes, Hamilton can use his story to help educate and prevent similar cases; my problem is when that’s all he is known for despite his fantastic on-field achievements. We won’t remember Kobe Bryant as being that guy who was accused of rape; we’ll remember him as that guy who was magical on the court. You feel me?
Russell — Couldn’t agree with you more.
Babba — Ah, how sweet. Get on the phone and call your people. Let’s make it happen.
Nate — Thanks for the compliments and yes, I agree that the bigger story is how Hamilton managed to be so good after such a long absence. We’ve seen others in sport: Clemens, Michael Jordan, Foreman (a couple of times) do less than stellar jobs after returning to their respective games. However, I have to correct you (with a friendly gesture of course) and let you know that addiction is indeed a disease. Why I know this may be hard to understand if you have no personal or tangible experience with it, the medical community definitely considers addiction a neurological disease. And so do I. Not only is it a disease; it’s a serious disease that needs the same amount of treatment and monitoring as any other: why? because it kills people. While my instinct is to write a 5000 word essay on the topic so that you fully understand why I take this so seriously, I instead ask you to check any medical journal or website or talk to anyone who is involved (somehow) with drug rehabilitation and/or education. For a more scientific explanation of why addiction is a disease and why it is often overlooked or considered “somebody’s inability to say ‘no’”, please check out the following link:
http://www.medical-online.com/addict.htm
Pay special attention to the third paragraph and I think you’ll see why I seem so quick to set the record straight. It has nothing to do with you personally. I just feel that I have a duty to help squash any stereotypes that may exist in this context. As always, I appreciate your comment(s) and respect you as a writer/blogger who loves the game just as much as I do.
Now, let’s go out and drunk! (Just kidding, maybe tomorrow)
–Jeff

Jeff,

Good post.

Although I blame MLB for just about everything, and no doubt they are following the Army’s Pat Tillman playbook on Hamilton, but society at large tends to focus excessively on such issues. It is kind of “the bigger the sin, the bigger the salvation” syndrome you hear in evangelical churches when congregants give dueling testimonies.

AA is kind of like that. I went for a short time in my early thirties, thinking I had a problem (I’ve now convinced anyone who drinks has a problem). After listening to the endless “can you top this” drunk stories, I realized I was nothing like those crazy ********. I only screwed cattle with my hat on. ;-)

Michael Norton
Some Clubhouse

Is there anybody that cares a lick about Curt Schilling and his views anymore? I truly could care less, much like I couldn’t give a hoot as to what presidential candidate Oprah Winfrey endorses or who Tony Romo is dating this week. That is completely irrelevant – much like Curt is nowadays. I guess he figures since he is washed up and on his last days, he’s gotta make headlines through running his mouth since he can’t get them thru pitching anymore. He is and always was a malcontent loudmouth that picks up the pompom’s and rah-rah’s whatever team he is currently with. He is boring and dull in interviews, perhaps he realizes that and needs to bash others or spread accusations about people to get the attention he obviously craves.

Who really cares about Curt anymore? He is a has-been, over-the-hill player who has tainted his future reputation and legacy by running his mouth endlessly. Ok Curt, nobody cares, just go away!
_______________________
Drug Intervention Louisiana

It is very acceptable to have a lot of persons that know the alcoholic doing the intervention. The individual struggling with an alcohol dependency must not identify beforehand the intervention.
Sean Cruz
Drug Intervention Mississippi

It is very acceptable to have a lot of persons that know the alcoholic doing the intervention. The individual struggling with an alcohol dependency must not identify beforehand the intervention.
Sean Cruz
Drug Intervention Mississippi

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