Hampton the Persistent
Life: Mike Hampton could pitch, man. When he wasn’t injured, at least. And he could swing the stick, too, a baseball player born to ply his trade in the National League. It’s hard to believe now, looking back, that Hampton, from 1995 through 2004, was good for, at the very least, 150 or more innings. Mike Hampton, defined by injury, threw over 200 innings a year from 1997 through 2001. He pitched, and he pitched well, to the tune of 3.3, 2.4. 5.1, 4.4 and 2.9 WAR those five years, respectively. In 2001, in 86 plate appearances, Hampton hit seven home runs, scored 20 runs, and drove in 16. He hit .291, and put up a wOBA of .366. Mike frigging Hampton!
Spiritual Exercise: Mike Hampton disappeared from baseball in 2005, only to return in 2008, to give it one more shot. And another shot after that. Ask yourself: Faced with adversity, richer than your wildest dreams, would you leave the game you love, leave it behind, and throw in the towel? Or would you have surgery after surgery on your elbow, in order to one day pitch again?
A Prayer for Mike Hampton
Michael William Hampton!
You were so much more than the injuries.
Yet they’re what define you,
And what I remember.
You won 22 games in 1999.
You have five Silver Sluggers to your name.
Fuck the injuries, I say, Mike Hampton.
But it’s hard.
Colorado won’t forget, they can’t forget.
And after signing you to an eight-year, $121 million dollar contract,
The richest in pro sports history at the time,
Can you blame them?
I don’t. I can’t.
But I don’t blame you either, Mike Hampton.
I would have signed that contract, too.
Tommy John surgery in 2005.
“I’ll be back as good as new,” you said.
And I believed you.
A torn oblique muscle in 2007.
Then, the unthinkable: More elbow pain,
Another elbow surgery.
Read the rest of this entry »