Hamilton too much of a risk

ARLINGTON, Texas — Bye, Josh.

It's too bad because Josh Hamilton might be the most talented baseball player who has ever run around Arlington. Josh Hamilton's relationship with baseball is as pure as anybody ever born.


It's his relationship, however, with some other stuff that muddies everything. That puts the Rangers in the no-win position of having to say, "No, thanks" when the money gets stupid, which it will when some ambitious owner gives Hamilton the years and the money he, his agent and his union collectively seek.

It has been much theorized and debated that Hamilton's next contract will be one of the most unique in baseball history because of his well-documented substance abuse problems.

One of baseball's best players is an admitted crackhead, and he is going to be a free agent in the prime of his career. Have fun with that, Nolan Ryan.

I have no interest in standing behind my Hypocrite Pulpit to judge and condemn Josh the man and his latest incident. I don't know him, and really don't care what he did at a Dallas bar last week, because it's really none of my business.

The reason the Rangers should pass on the crazy bidding war has little to do with why we are talking about Josh today, even though incidents such as this will be used as leverage in the negotiations.

If we are just talking about Josh the Addict, sign me up. Since he has become a major leaguer, Josh has never missed a game because of his addiction.

Since he has become a major leaguer, Josh has missed plenty of games because of various ailments.

Statistics show that not only will addicts use again but also that players who get hurt will get hurt again and again.

But Hamilton probably cost himself a few more million with this latest relapse with alcohol.

In front of 20 TV cameras and roughly 50 members of the media last week at the Ballpark, Hamilton took full responsibility for his relapse with alcohol. Considering the circumstances, Josh handled himself as well as can be expected. He knows he screwed up. He sounded sincere, apologetic and embarrassed.

This is not a bad guy; this is a lifelong ballplayer. Draw your own conclusions.

"It would be nice if I was sitting here talking about a contract, but we'll put that on the back-burner," Josh said before concluding his 12-minute admittance fest.

As a human, you would never hope this type of daily fight on anyone, but considering he can hit a baseball with great frequency and with much power we are far more forgiving and sympathetic for his transgressions than the guy working at the gas station.

"This is not a baseball story; this is something that is real and something that Josh deals with — an addiction," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said during a conference call on Friday afternoon. "We have separated the two issues."


That's great, only it's not possible.

"We are going to take everything into consideration," Daniels said. "When the time comes for us to have that conversation, hopefully we'll have a little bit of time and perspective."

One doesn't require time or perspective to see that since Hamilton broke into the bigs in 2007 his well-chronicled battles with addiction have never burned him or his team.

They have been embarrassing, and the way Josh talked on Friday it sounds as if there are some embarrassing photos and details from Monday night that are likely to be leaked.

Such embarrassment and shame have yet to cost Hamilton an at-bat, or the Rangers a win.

Since 2007, Hamilton's addiction has not really been a problem.

The fear, however, has been.

The Rangers need Hamilton's production to win, and he is one major slip away from a suspension.

His addiction has been a fear while the real problem have been the tears, the fractures, the breaks and the mileage.

In 2009, he played in 89 games. In 2010, it was 133 games. In 2011, it was 121 games.

No one is ever going to accuse Hamilton of mailing it in or stealing money, but only once (156 games in 2008 with Texas) in five major league seasons has he appeared in more than 133 games. This is what we call a trend.

Pro jocks soon to be 31 with a history of injury problems don't magically get healthy and are injury-free until they turn 40.

My gut tells me that this guy will never not fight this addiction.

My gut also tells me that at 31, and with a body that might have mileage way beyond his years it's best now to get used to the idea of saying, "Bye, Josh."

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