What Can We Really Say About Josh Hamilton?

Last night, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reported that Josh Hamilton was spotted drinking at a local area bar on Monday evening. According to the report, Ian Kinsler appeared at some point and tried to convince Hamilton to leave. Beyond that, we don’t really know much. In fact, including that information, I’d argue that we don’t really know much.

I’m conflicted about even writing about this, to be honest. Yes, it’s news, and we try to provide analysis and commentary about things going on in the news, but what can we really say about Hamilton’s battle to remain sober? I have no insight into addiction or what a relapse might mean for a recovering addict. There might be people who can speak about what could be inferred from Hamilton falling off the wagon, but as far as I know, no one on staff is an expert on alcoholism. I’m certainly not, and I don’t feel qualified to have any kind of opinion on what this news means for Hamilton’s sobriety.

I was tempted to write about what this might mean for Hamilton’s potential chances for a contract extension, since that’s a bit more up our alley, but anything we said would really just be baseless speculation. To actually know how this might affect the Rangers desire to give Hamilton a long term contract, we’d need access to information that only they’re privy to – his drug test schedule and results, his resolve to get back on the wagon, and what steps he’s willing to take to ensure that this doesn’t become a recurring issue.

We don’t know any of that. In all honestly, we don’t really know anything. The only thing I’m comfortable saying about this news is that I hope Josh Hamilton wins his battle with alcohol and that the sport is better when he’s playing at a high level. Whether you root for the Rangers or not, Josh Hamilton is worth rooting for.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


97 Responses to “What Can We Really Say About Josh Hamilton?”

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  1. Jon says:

    Responsibly covered. thanks.

    +46 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Shane says:

    Well written. There’s been so many stupid things written about this trying to make it about the union, his contract, religion, etc. Leave it at what it is. It’s sad to see, and I hope he stays sober for the sake of him, his loved ones and the sport. He makes baseball better.

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  3. AL Eastbound says:

    He will still be a hot commodity in the off-season so hopefully he keeps it together.

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  4. Jim says:

    Its obvious we dont know what happened, but here is a recent Tweet from Josh Hamilton’s wife: Katie Hamilton @KandJHamilton:

    Truly appreciate all the encouraging & supportive tweets we’ve been getting. God is Faithful and forgives- so thankful that you all are Showing us such love and encouragement during this time.

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  5. jaywrong says:

    For what it’s worth, Alcoholism and Drug addiction are separate issues, and one falling off the wagon shouldn’t necessarily mean the other is happening.

    I’m not trying to correct anything, but I think it’s important we keep the two issues separate.

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    • BDF says:

      What’s the basis for your claim that they’re separate issues? That they’re different substances and using one doesn’t require that you’re using the other? That’s true, although it’s relevant evidence in trying to make that determination, but it’s also moot, because the underlying disease is addiction. If Hamilton is in his addictive process then his life is in jeopardy regardless of whether it’s beer, whiskey, marijuana, cocaine, or morphine.

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      • Matt says:

        Yeah, I have to agree that they aren’t entirely distinct and/or separate issues. As someone who comes from a family with substance issues, it is EXTREMELY easy for addicts to relapse into drug use when they begin impairing their judgment, even slightly, with alcohol.

        It’s very common for a recovering addict to have a beer or two or three and then think, “hey, y’know, what hurt could one line/hit/fix do?”

        While I do think a lot of our culture’s hang-ups about drugs — specifically, the whole “gateway” drug myth — are overblown and very generalized, I tend to believe that that applies more to first time drinkers/users. But for those with a history of drug dependency and the collateral damage it brings, a beer or two usually are the first slick spots on a very slippery slope.

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      • Preston says:

        How do you know that Josh Hamilton isn’t an alcoholic? Most drug abusers also abused alcohol. In any event almost all rehab programs would require that you not drink again either, because anything that blurs your judgement makes you more likely to relapse. Even if alcohol isn’t his “problem” the fact that he would drink when he knows he shouldn’t shows a lack of self control, and a propensity to still deal with stress through alcohol and drugs. Now I don’t think one night means all that much in his long term sobriety, what really matters is how he reacts to it. If he says I had some beers and was fine, it’s no big deal, then it’s a long term problem. If he realizes he made a mistake and continues whatever addiction program he’s in then he’s fine.

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      • jaywrong says:

        Its good points you guys raise. My initial reaction was this; He was legally drinking alcohol. I don’t think we should treat it as if he was snorting lines in a hotel room.

        On top of that, based on my experiences volunteering at a methadone clinic in LA, I believe that Alcoholism victims, to a degree, has a better success rate of being helped and cured than those who are addicted to certain controlled substances.

        I want to keep them separate because I believe one is more serious than the other, along with the fact that we cannot assume that his wagon fall here led to a wagon fall with substances.

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      • the hottest stove says:

        The misconception that drinking and drugging are separate has led to countless lost battles in rehab.

        a) By drinking any alcohol during rehab, the person is weakening their ability to responsibly control their own rehab, and putting themself in a difficult circumstance. Bandura says the battle against relapse is already lost at this point.

        b) Even worse, if you are drinking to get drunk, you are seeking to alter your reality or seeking a feeling of satiation, and probably substituting the alcohol for the drug. This is the same as using the original drug.

        Drinking and drugging are the same thing….at least when concerning an addict.

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      • Anon says:

        Re: jaywrong

        Alcoholism victims

        You can’t be a victim to alcoholism. Victim means someone else has harmed to you without cause.
        You can be an alcoholic or an addict.

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      • John says:

        Anon, an alcoholic is an addict.

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    • EarlSweatshirt says:

      Not to keep beating this issue, but the two are completely related. It’s certainly possible that he could continue to just drink, but he’d be a major outlier, and every day/week/month he continued to drink, the more likely he is to use again. Many people have substance problems and develop alcohol problems later in life. It isn’t usually the addiction to a substance, but the lack of coping skills, and the person will take whatever substance to fill that void. There is no real predictive way to analyze this situation (assuming the report is true), I’ll just hope for the best.

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      • bluejaysstatsgeek says:

        Substance abuse and addictions can involve almost anything. Internet Addiction, Sexual Addiction, Food Addition (Chronic Overeating), Alcoholism, Drug Addiction can all be destructive and harmful not just to the addict, but to others as well. To make it worse, society – and therefore, the addict – gets bombarded with media messages almost constantly. Fun is drinking with your buds. Guys having fun have scantly-dressed, well-endowed ladies serving the drinks. Food is everywhere with the addictive sugars and fats. You have to be in touch with your buds every waking hour via smartphone or Internet. We have become slaves to living in the moment. I don’t have the statistics, but an addition doctor I know says the proportion of society showing addictive behaviours is staggering.

        Instead of being judgmental, let’s hope Josh gets the help he needs. He is a great talent, and it would be a shame to see it wasted.

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      • Thurston24 says:

        For those who are saying drug addiction and alcoholism are separate things are mistaken. I come from an alcoholic family with my mother going through treatment multiple times. The last center she went through trained the family as well. What we were taught is that those addictions are one in the same. So if you intend to stay sober you need to avoid both.

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  6. Monster Mike says:

    I can only imagine how hard it is for Josh to stay sober while being a MVP sport player with constant coverage. Surrounded by a male sport where celebrations revolve around alcohol.

    Too bad Wilson is no longer on the team, as he is straight-edge (drug & alcohol free lifestyle). He would be a great help to Hamilton, as a sponser/accountability partner/etc.

    But as a recovering addict myself, I know how hard it is to stay clean. It truly is something that needs to be taken day by day. It’s easy for us to cast judgement on him, and say thats it’s easy or he should be more responsible, but by him being a professional athlete, an already hard journey is multiplied ten-
    fold.

    I wish him all the best.

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    • TK says:

      Casting judgment isn’t easy; it takes a lot out of a person.

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    • Bill says:

      But CJ would have him all hopped-up on Monster energy drinks. “Ya, know brah? They are like totally intense!”.

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      • Jake says:

        I got a good laugh out of your comment because I played baseball this past summer with a recovering addict who loved Monster, and that’s actually how he talks. But it also shows that Monster isn’t bad for addicts.

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  7. Socal Baseball says:

    I really hope Josh wins this battle with alcohol. Not for the game of baseball but for his family. He is a husband and father to three young girls. The Rangers can always replace Hamilton and move on. His family can’t.

    I also hope he wins this battle because I know he has been such an inspiration for others who have/are battling addiction and alcoholism.

    Baseball is just a game. This is Josh Hamilton and his family’s lives at stake. I hope that he gets the help and support he needs. I will be rooting for Josh Hamilton the person.

    +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • the hottest stove says:

      Great insight socal. Appropriate perspective is so hard to find these days, especially in sports and entertainment. Be a husband and father first, then be a baseball player if you can responsibly do both. This story aside, I think Hamilton understands this…

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    • Anon says:

      This. If Hamilton can’t stay responsible for his family because of his job, quit the job. His career earnings according to baseball-reference is more than $13M (not counting a 2012 salary of $13M+). If he can’t provide for his family with that, he has bigger problems that addiction.

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  8. Pelly says:

    Here is hoping he is back on the wagon and 4 day’s into his new sobriety. I do know that the last time he fell off, he followed it up with his MVP season(a year later?). As an owner of a $21 Hamilton in my keeper league, I do hope this was a hiccup and he keeps on pushing forward.

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  9. Eminor3rd says:

    Why cover something you don’t even want to cover and don’t plan to really write about? I appreciate your attempt to get stuff up that covers headlines, but I don’t think anyone comes to FanGraphs to just get the beat and no content at all. I’d rather you write what you feel compelled to actually write about rather than put something up just for the sake of putting it up, then spend 300 words telling us you don;t have anything to say but felt like you should say something.

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    • bstar says:

      Eminor,
      This is a new-style Fangraphs article. Instead of writing long, in-depth articles on things that might possibly happen but havent yet, they are writing shorter, less wordy articles on stuff that hasnt happened yet, or in this case something they have little info about. For me, yeah, I want a little more meat on the bone, but in this case, knowing so little, I think the lack of depth was appropriate.

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    • BDF says:

      This is also such huge news that it’s incumbent on FG to say *something*, even if it’s that they don’t have much to say.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. West says:

    I’m shocked he didn’t fall off the wagon right after game six……

    All kidding aside, baseball is a business and if I’m running a business I’m not giving a big contract to someone who constantly has to battle with addiction. An addiction so bad that he can’t carry cash with him. Next offseason I would look to replace him. I wish him the best.

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  11. TheGrandslamwich says:

    Kinsler has always been a talented player, but I definitely add some +respect for doing what he could to help a team mate with a personal issue.
    Hopefully Hamilton will come out of this healthy and ready to play some ball.

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    • Socal Baseball says:

      Yeah. I don’t know if you watched the excellent ESPN documentary Unguarded about Chris Herren the former NBA player and addict.

      When he was with the Nuggets, Nick Van Exel, Antonio McDyess, George McCloud and Popeye Jones refused to let him go out or drink alcohol. One of them would stay in with him each night.

      Before hearing that I always hated Nick Van Exel. I have nothing but respect for the guy now.

      Hamilton’s accountability partner, Jerry Narron, left the Ranger’s organization to become the hitting coach for the Brewers. I hope the Rangers tried to match whatever the Brewers are paying Narron.

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  12. Cidron says:

    in an ESPN article, http://espn.go.com/dallas/mlb/story/_/id/7535200/texas-rangers-outfielder-josh-hamilton-relapse-alcohol (by Richard Durrett, espndallas.com)

    It has Jerry Narron as his “accountability partner” until he left to take the position of hitting coach with Milwaukee. There is no mention of an immediate replacement, other than Hamilton’s father in law, once the father-in-law’s daughter finishes high-school (no date on that). So, assuming Jun 1 as that time, Josh is without someone to watch over him (as a “accountability partner”) until that time, approximately 4 months from now.

    IMO, having “family” (even an in-law) as that accountability partner, while supportive, and able to be around often, also can be counter to a fix. That person might lack the objectivity enough to enforce a desired habit/pattern. In short, the father in law may become an enabler, rather than a helper. Not sure if this is a good thing long-term. Obviously it isn’t short term. Maybe Ian Kinsler (who appeared in the event), or Michael Young (respected voice on the team) as players would do better in this role.

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    • Socal Baseball says:

      His father in law, Michael Chadwick, was one of the first people to help Hamilton try and get clean back in 2003.

      He is a recovered addict himself. Hamilton showed up at his door at 2 AM in 2003 seeking his help back even though they had never met before. Hamilton had only heard of Chadwick’s story through Chadwick’s daughter who had he previously dated years ago.

      I hope the Rangers can find someone in the short term but Chadwick is probably the person Hamilton needs most right now.

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      • Cidron says:

        ok, that I did not know. And, withdraw my concerns regarding him. The upside on him, not mentioned earlier is that he wont be taking any positions as hitting coach elsewheres, etc. He will be around a while (well, as long as any -in laws are)

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      • Socal Baseball says:

        Yeah, Cidron. I still don’t know what I would do if I were in Chadwick’s shoes. He does have his own young daughter and company to worry about.

        As much as he loves Josh and Josh is family, following the Rangers everywhere they go is monumental commitment and sacrifice.

        This is why these problems are so much harder for athletes. If Josh Hamilton was some lawyer in Los Angeles, the solution would be for him to move to NC where Chadwick lives.

        Part of me wants Hamilton to retire and focus on his family and recovery. He has made enough money. His life and his family’s lives are more important than a game.

        The professional sports culture with the lack of normal routine, stability, pressure, etc is probably the worst environment for a recovering addict to be in.

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  13. vivalajeter says:

    “I’m conflicted about even writing about this, to be honest.”

    I’m surprised that you wrote about this too. How dare you beat Alex Remington to the punch :-)

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  14. Not Rick Reilly says:

    So, is today a good day to be an atheist?

    -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Oregon Nut Cups says:

    The scary thing about this is everyone wants to make it about drugs/alcohol, i.e. ‘bad’ addictions. Hamilton has an addictive personality; it is the way his brain is wired in that he can’t get enough of something that makes him feel ‘good’. In my opinion, its what got him to become an elite athlete and originally saved him from his bad addiction by replacing it with what is seen as a good addiction: baseball.

    I wish him and his family nothing but the best. I truly fear what happens when baseball can no longer subsume him for months on end, pushing the bad addictions away.

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  16. Sandy Kazmir says:

    Can’t wait until this charlatan plows through a family on his way home.

    -32 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • arch support says:

      What the hell dude.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        Nick Adenhart would still be here if it weren’t for entitled scumbags like Josh Hamilton. Get off his dick and realize what a piece of shit he is.

        -30 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        Pretty sad that at least 12 people support vehicular manslaughter due to operator impairment. I hope I don’t share the road with you heathens.

        -17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DavidCEisen says:

        Wow, not only are you an asshole but you are homophobic (or at least feel fine denigrating homosexuals to insult people).

        Hamilton has issues, but at least he recognizes them. He didn’t go drinking out of a sense of entitlement; he went drinking because he has addiction problems. It’s not an excuse nor is his behavior to be exemplified, but his struggle to stay on the wagon is worthy of respect.

        Also you are the asshole wanting him to kill people. Probably just so you can feel superior to addicts and say: “I told you so.”

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    • You must think Scott Kazmir is still a great pitcher, too says:

      You’ve got quite the scoop. Why waste in it in a fangraphs comment? There haven’t been any reports that he drove home drunk.

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    • jim says:

      good god, i read draysbay and i knew you were a dick, but holy shit dude

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    • Oregon Nut Cups says:

      Looks like you’ve learned how to make arguments by watching those DirecTV commercials. Don’t wake up in a road side ditch, Sandy; it would break my flipping heart.

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    • chuckb says:

      You can’t wait for that?

      There’s something seriously wrong with you.

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    • Rob says:

      Has Josh Hamilton ever even had a dui?

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  17. china_dave says:

    if you feel you shouldn’t be writing about something, don’t

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  18. Gary York says:

    For what it’s worth, there are also a host of science-based recovery programs. According to some studies some are more effective than 12-step programs. A few of the studies even offer the possibility of social or moderate drinking after the treatment is over. I am not advocating for any treatment, but it is important to realize that some programs eschew the “addictive personality” paradigm in favor of a behavior oriented one.

    This relieves some people of the burden of thinking that their make-up is somehow defective.

    Google “non-12 step recovery programs” for a host of different approaches.

    I mention this in the hope that some of you will stop referring to people with alcohol addition programs as “pieces of crap” or religious hypocrites. A science-based baseball blog should be beyond that.

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  19. Bigmouth says:

    Puts into perspective his complaints about people “medicating” in the bleachers at Willie Mays Park during the World Series. Have to admit, I feel a little guilty for goofing on the guy.

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  20. Cliff B says:

    No time to read the comments. Here’s my 2 cents.

    Good at least it was alcohol and not crack cocaine. I’m sure when he’s on a good long sober stretch, he feels great about being sober.

    There are times when the devil calls. Don’t really know why or when, but he does.

    He will be ok.

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  21. pft says:

    I would not sign Hamilton to long years and big dollars w/o an opt out clause and stipulation he be monitored 24/7 for the duration of the contract. If that’s not possible, he should be kept Y2Y.

    Also, physically his injury track record is like JD Drew, so he should be paid no more than Drew was.

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  22. Drew says:

    Imagine espn writing something like this. Every news story on their site would be the same.

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  23. MikeS says:

    Obviously this is unsubstantiated but it raises the point of how should the Rangers or any other team protect themselves? Definitely try to make sure you can void the contract for insobriety and allow ownership to test him more frequently than the CBA allows if those clauses are legal. Make sure the insurance on the contract covers insobriety. Heck, if I’m the Rangers and seriously considering giving him 8 or 9 figures in the next few years then a few months of private investigators bills are a good investment.

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  24. waynetolleson says:

    Josh Hamilton just cost himself a lot of money. The guy has injury problems, and if I’m an owner, I’m not going to invest long-term in a guy with a history of repeated substance abuse problems.

    Chemical dependency is a difficult problem. Josh Hamilton is a recovering drug addict. He’s always going to be a drug addict. That’s a much bigger concern to anyone who cares about Josh Hamilton than his baseball career. Or it should be.

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  25. Randy says:

    While it may be true that Hamilton abused both alcohol and other drugs at the same time, and that because of that history they might be linked, I don’t buy the “gateway” drug assumption-that’s just a slippery slope argument, which are typically unfounded. That being said, alcohol abuse is something that can affect on field performance, and that can affect one’s contract status.

    A friend of mine suggested that it could be linked to the fact that Hamilton threw a ball into the stands and the fan died while trying to catch it.

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    • David in DC says:

      If you don’t like the term “gateway drug”, fine, but very few people outside of Ron Washington wake up and say “Today I’m going to do some coke for the first time.” It is often (but not always and not in a straight line) a progression from legal drugs to perscription drugs to pot to harder drugs. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, often leading to drunk sex, ugle tattoos and, sometimes, other drugs use, though it takes a while to get up to injecting speedballs.

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      • Joey B says:

        I don’t think there is any such thing as a gateway drug. I think drugs are just the ultimate destination for some people. It’s kind of a rebellious nature in some that want to keep pushing the edges of the envelope.

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    • BDF says:

      I don’t buy the gateway drug argument either, but it’s not relevant here. For an addict in Hamilton’s position, drinking and smoking crack equally activate an addictive process that puts his life at risk. See David Carr’s “Night of the Gun” for an interesting illustration of this problem. Carr was a hard-core coke addict, was clean for a decade, and built a great career. (He is now the media editor of the NY Times.) Then, out of the blue, he started drinking again. He had always drank, of course, but alcohol hadn’t been his problem. It didn’t matter. It triggered his addictive process and he nearly killed his daughters and himself.

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    • Don osso buco says:

      Two primary features of alcoholism are denial and tolerance. Of course it’s a slippery slope socrates.

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  26. Warde says:

    First he kills a fan and orphans a son

    and now he drinks a beer? This guy is like Hitler and Vlad the Impaler rolled in one.

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  27. Nick says:

    I’m guessing Jesus Christ’s ISO is sub .100, cause his power wasn’t enough to stop Hamilton from drinking.

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  28. Joey B says:

    IRT Hamilton, take a wait-and-see attitude. Alcohol is an interesting drug that manifests itself in a number of ways. Some people grow accustomed (or addicted) to one or two drinks a day. Some won’t drink for a month, but will pull a 10-hour session when they go out. Others might go six months without a drink, but go on a week-long bender. He’s fallen off before. Let’s see if he climbs back on.

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    • Cidron says:

      and, with our forgiving society we will do just that, which will allow him to fall off the wagon again, only to be forgiven again, for how many times before he is just a washed up slob who cant hit a 80 mph arrow straight fastball when he knows its coming.

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  29. Me says:

    Just read a comment above that referred to Hamilton’s “Accountability Partner.” I think they should change that name to “Accountabili-Buddy”

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  30. Colin says:

    Dave Cameron cannot offer any insight into the Hamilton situation…..+1000.

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  31. noseeum says:

    I’m sure the vast majority of posters on this site have a drink now and again. I for one can’t imagine a happy life without a little mind alteration now and again.

    It’s gotta suck to be under 30 and think you’ll never get wasted again. Most people are able to handle it now and again and lead productive lives.

    Completely understandable that Hamilton gives into temptation now and again. Let’s not blow it out of proportion. He didn’t hurt anyone, get arrested, or disappear into a crack den.

    Get up, dust yourself off, and back to work, Mr. Hamilton. Good luck to you.

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  32. MNzach says:

    @sandykazmir

    I understand where you’re coming from but that is a little harsh. Its clear you don’t understand addiction AT ALL.

    I am a recovering addict. Imagine living nearly every moment of every day denying yourself what your brain is telling you is the thing you want most in the world. Its not an easy battle but it can be won by anyone with enough willpower to do it. This is a story because all recovering addicts, famous athletes or not, are at risk every time they give into temptation, be it alcohol or any drug of choice. I hope this is an isolated incident because I am a fan but only time will tell.

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  33. james wilson says:

    A guy like this, it’s amazing he spends a year or three sober at a stretch. His wife knows this. He makes a deal with himself every few hours for that year or three to kid himself he doesn’t need a drink or a hit. He knows it isn’t true.
    If you do not know anyone like this, you don’t know shit, so shut up and no one will know you are a fool.

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  34. PKJ says:

    Nobody ever wins their battle with substance abuse… They just live to see one more day.

    I just hope he works his program and starts over from day one. The only requirement for Alcoholics Anonymous is “a desire to stop drinking.”

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  35. bpdelia says:

    Lets just say ive been a recovering addict for about 20 years. The rlthing is well over 80% relapse. AA? 90 % relapse rate. WE ALL RELAPSE the mam narrative about lifetime abstinence is what causes all this teeth gnashing. He relapsed. Hes gonna relapse again, and again and again. As long as he gets busted and cant devolve into weeks or month long relapse bender’s he is fine. It happens. NO ONE doesn’t ever relapse. And that expectation sets us all up for failure. Every relapse becomes a shame spiral, begets a longer relapse, begets a shame spiral etç. Just stop it people. He is going to be fine if not held to a standard that literally 8-10 of 100 addicts ever attain. The amount of misinformation about relapse rates continues to astonish me.

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    • 20389438 says:

      The relapse rate is high for people who waste time with crap like AA and 12-step programs, yeah. Do it the right way.

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      • Mike P says:

        Well, I got help from AA and have been sober now for 24 years. I attended meetings for the first 2 years, and I don’t go anymore but I use the lessons I learned there to keep on the right track. I’m irreligious too, and I thought the program was quite helpful. It doesn’t work for everyone, but for some people it’s their life. Anyway, give the guy a break, relapses are common, it’s probably all for the best that he’s doing it in public where he can get noticed and get help from people who care about him.

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  36. Brian says:

    It must be hard not to be able to have a drink or two without the world going crazy.

    That said, I hope Josh is able to stay on the wagon. Not so much for his baseball contract, but more for his family.

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  37. Monroe says:

    All we can really say about Josh Hamilton is that we know of two relapses in the last two years, he has one year left on his contract and he ain’t giving no hometown discount to the Rangers ….

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  38. adohaj says:

    obviously its not good if kinsler showed up to try and stop him.

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  39. Troll says:

    MNZach, glad to hear you’re sober and doing well. And I’m glad you pointed out that ANYONE can overcome addiction with will power. To be honest, I think Hamilton is a whiny selfish bitch that would rather drink and grab asses than be at home being a father to his 3 kids and a good husband. Selfish shithead.

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  40. Sailor Sam says:

    When a shipmate falls, you help him up. You never know, he just might save your life someday.
    I’ve seen it happen.

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