Hamilton deserves privacy, but not an exemption from criticism
Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton speaks during a baseball news conference at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Special contributor to WFAA.com
Posted on February 8, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Josh Hamilton did something wrong.
To the extent that off-the-field events don't directly affect on-the-field availability and ability, I do not care what athletes do with their own lives. Generally.
Sure, I would prefer players to be more like Darren Woodson than Dez Bryant. But, as a rule, I don't worry about what players do when they're off the clock.
But what Josh Hamilton did on Monday bothers me. It hurts me a little, to be honest with you. But I'm not bothered by the fact that he drank. As an annoyingly-named basketball player in Miami told us, it's not how often you fall down, but how many times you get back up- and Josh stood up immediately afterwards. I do hope that he didn't drive himself home after drinking, but past that, he kept himself out of the coeds-and-whipped cream danger zone, out of public intox, and out of a barroom brawl- and I'm not going to ask for more than that from him, because as a fan I don't have that right.
But Josh still did something much more wrong, in that he lied, by his own admission, to his friend and his teammate. In Hamilton's own words, after Kinsler dropped him off, “[Ian's] words were, 'I’ll see you later. You're not going to go back out, are you?' I said, 'No, I am in. I am good.' I did exactly what I told him I wouldn’t do. I went back to the place we had just left and had some more drinks*.”
That, to me, is what deserves criticism here, and what troubles me. What wins games is what happens between the lines, but it's hard to deny a certain psychic juju that runs through the Rangers' roster. It's part of what has allowed them to overcome a litany of issues over the past two years to have the greatest run in franchise history.
While I trust Ron Washington to maintain that, I also don't want to him have to work harder at that than necessary to continue to maintain it. It worries me that something like this can damage trust and corrode the positive chemistry that's been so evident over the past years. Especially given the stress that will (likely) exist surrounding Josh's contractual status.
In the end, I don't begrudge Josh for stepping off the wagon for one night, given that he seemed to have kept his feet on the ground while off. I'm happy he called Ian and engaged that support network. I'm happier that Ian met him and spent time with him. But I'm not happy that Josh stepped over Ian's display of trust, and I'm very not happy that Josh lied to Kins.
Now, let's hope this is the last human interest story I write about this team that doesn't involve ginger ale showers after another clincher.
*quoted from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Drew Davison's recap of Josh Hamilton's press conference, available here.
Joseph Ursery is very sorry that he typed the words 'psychic juju' and is currently putting together some statistical comparisons to make up for it. You can tweet him at @thejoeursery if anything bothered your psychic juju.