Josh Hamilton is back. At least with his former team, he is. The veteran slugger was officially traded today, to the Texas Rangers franchise on which his career flourished, and his off-the-field problems were seemingly behind him. With about $80 million left on Hamilton’s mega-contract, the Angels are eating a reported $73 million of that deal just to make their problems(or rather Hamilton’s problems), property of another organization.
Hamilton’s resistance to the personal problems that have plagued him his whole adult life, has faltered. The 33-year old veteran slugger suffered a relapse in his well-documented sobriety that included cocaine and alcohol before he joined the Angels in Tempe for spring training. Major League Baseball has yet to punish Hamilton for his use of illegal drugs given the fact there was no failed drug test but rather a self-reported admittance of his use of cocaine. This makes Hamilton’s status with the league ‘up in the air,’ and has caused a trade from his current team for which he signed in 2013 to his former team for five seasons. In those years between 2008-2012, Hamilton became a darling of the league, a feel-good story for conquering substance abuse and a feared hitter in the American League. Ever Hamilton signed his $120 million contract with the Angels, his numbers have steadily declined, causing some to speculate that his poor play resulted in the relapse.
I don’t think Hamilton should be suspended, I don’t think that’s what this man needs. It’s clear that even after his life took many turns for the worse in his early twenties, and then hit a meteoric rise, Hamilton is still dealing with some personal demons that shouldn’t be taken likely. He’s currently taking time away from the game to get his mind and life right once again(while also dealing with a divorce from his wife), and I believe that in turn, this time is serving as a self-imposed suspension much like his self-admitted relapse. It’s clear that baseball has long been Hamilton’s solace, and his release from his own personal demons. And Hamilton clearly needs that release at some point. It’s very admirable that he’s already admitted to his relapse in lieu of a positive test, and given his honesty, he shouldn’t be suspended by Major League Baseball without one. I don’t think it’s good for Hamilton’s health for him to be away from the game for longer than he feels fit.
Hamilton will now be back in Dallas with the organization who he says, helped him grow into the man he’s become. He made five-consectutive All-Star teams with Texas and took the 2010 team to the World Series, winning the AL MVP in the same season. The LA Angels organization deserves no blame for this turn in Hamilton’s life(although they haven’t exactly lended him much support) and is moving on at an expensive price. That’s life, and I hope Hamilton can get his back on track. I also hope he can play some baseball.