Josh Hamilton is invincible.
Or at least that is the message that is being sent to him by the arbitrator that broke the 2-2 tie amongst the members of the four person treatment board of MLB’s joint drug program, deciding that Hamilton cannot be punished for his self-admitted alcohol and cocaine relapse during the off season.
I disagree with this decision on so many levels.
Once again, my first thought was “Haha, Angels fans, you don’t get bailed out on any of that contract! Enjoy”. But once again, the human element took over.
What kind of message does this send to other players? Does this open the door for players to begin using drugs as long as they admit it before they fail a test? Does this provide some great loophole, provided by the player’s union that provides these athletes with a reusable get out of jail free card?
What kind of message does this send to young fans? That it is ok to use drugs as long as you have the money to have someone stand up for you, only concerned with the amount of money that could be lost during a suspension?
And most of all, what kind of message does this send to Josh Hamilton himself?
Most addicts, especially those on cocaine, enjoy the false sense of invincibility, strength, and vigor the drug gives them. They long for that feeling; knowing that this false sense of control will return the next time they snort a line.
This arbitrator just increased that feeling exponentially.
The message is disgusting.
As players have recently come out of the woodwork to condemn the use of performance enhancing drugs, speaking out against those who have used them, the use of illicit drugs and narcotics has remained taboo. People knew of players using them, people remember damage to the career of Daryl Strawberry, the loss of Len Bias, the death of Ken Caminiti. Players understand the dangers of these drugs, but don’t show the emotional response to their use as the do to PED’s.
Why is this?
Money. Cold, hard, cash. The almighty dollar.
Players speak out against those who may be dominating statistically due to PED’s, thus driving up their market value. As the enhanced players make more money, there is less to fill the coffers of the clean players. It is not about the unspoken brotherhood amongst players, it’s about that next contract and the amount of zeroes at the end of the number.
Same goes for teams. In the Dallas area, everyone recently witnessed the Cowboys pretending to take the moral high ground and dissecting Dez Bryant’s character while not offering him a long term deal, only to turn around and sign Greg Hardy, who clearly has a poor character and committed disgusting acts less than a year ago.
Dallas was putting on a show with Bryant. It was never about his character, it was all about how much they could drive down his market value.
Money. Cold, hard cash. The almighty dollar.
So what does this have to do with the Josh Hamilton story and why am I rambling about football? Glad you asked.
The Josh Hamilton decision and reaction have nothing to do with drug testing, loopholes, or a moral precedent by the MLB, but it has everything to do with money. The Players Union has too much to lose by Hamilton being suspended, the Angels have too much to lose by him not being suspended.
Arte Moreno, the owner of the Los Angeles Angels, knew exactly who Josh Hamilton was when they made the contract offer. He knew of his issues, he knew of his problems, he knew of his addiction. They embraced Josh, publicly stating that they would continue to provide support to Hamilton to prevent those struggles from returning.
In his official statement, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said “The Angels have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health, and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans”.
What exactly are those concerns? Does any of this sound like concern for an individual, for a long-term investment, or for a human being?
Of course not. The Angels only want to recoup their money.
What message does this send to Hamilton? How does an addict take all of this?
Addicts need support. They need consequences. They need to be provided with reasons to better themselves. They need to be provided with hope. This decision, and the reaction by the Angels, provides none of that.
Hamilton has received the message that he can do what he wants without being punished. He has been told by the Angels that he is nothing more than a dollar sign. Where does he go from here? How does he right the ship?
Josh Hamilton needs support. He needs to know he matters. He needs to know that he just can’t do what he wants.
If these things are not provided, then expect another relapse. I hope for the opposite, but that is the sad reality of the situation.
MLB, Angels’ corporate, Angels’ teammates: someone step up. He can’t do this alone.