“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever.” – “C” Anello, Bronx Tale
John Belushi needed a “bodyguard” to help him resist the temptations of the Sunset Strip. When his bodyguard went on to other things, Belushi used this newfound “freedom” as an excuse to do 8-balls, and subsequently died of an overdose.
Belushi, and many other live-fast-die-young entertainers, were used as an example by Denis Leary when he joked about how the really super talented die young like Belushi, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Yet, Motley Crue could be locked in a room with two tons of crack, come out an hour later and record a double-live album.
Sure, I’m poking fun right now, but let’s be fair: addiction, particularly of alcohol and drug variety, is no laughing matter. In baseball, we are seeing some of the ramifications of illegal drugs, namely with Josh Hamilton.
And this guy was a sad story from the get go. Someone with oodles of natural baseball talent, just got tempted one too many times. Here’s the other part though…many addicts, especially in the public element, don’t like to talk about it unless they are in their comfort zone. Hamilton was to be the great redemption story. He has won an MVP, and as a Texas Ranger participated in many playoff runs.
Being a sports fan, there’s that one guy you LOVE, and then there’s that guy you LOATHE. Hamilton was a “good guy,” someone who admitted to his mistakes and seemed to have learned from them. Someone like Alex Rodriguez though, did PEDs for personal gain (despite what his play did for the rest of the team), he’s in it for himself and does not deserve our sympathy. Funny how that works, right?
Yet, in the offseason we hear about Hamilton and a relapse. I’m not sure what kind of rehabilitation he underwent previously (whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous or N.A. or just rehab and psychotherapy), but it’s been stated that he trusts himself so little that he won’t carry credit cards or cash. In this last bender, he wrote a check out to himself and blew it on cocaine at a strip club. I have no idea what kind of fight he and his wife might have had that led to this behavior. My point of view? He needed an excuse.
Despite the fact that the Texas Rangers held his hand all those years, even had “champagne celebrations” with ginger ale so that the team could celebrate together without upsetting him. Despite the fact that the Angels were not as public with their assistance of him, they did hold his hand as well. Here is the problem with an addict and what no one else is saying: they have to WANT to change.
The Angels could have assigned bodyguards or literally called every restaurant in Orange County and warned them to remove alcohol off the premises because Josh Hamilton was coming. He could have stayed in Texas where he had great success. Something tells me though, especially since he chastised the Texas fans for liking football more and not “owing them anything,” he either did not want to stay or wanted the California star quality.
I can’t tell Hamilton what he needs to do. He has to figure that out himself. But I can give some advice: stop blaming others for your issues. Despite all of his money, despite all the redemption stories and forget about all the fame and accolades he has received from being an incredibly gifted baseball player, one thing is for sure: he likes drugs more.
The help he needs is probably not what he was getting in Texas or in Anaheim. Addicts will be the first to tell you that they need a support system. Hamilton has “thanked g*d” and given his praises multiple times. What about his AA sponsor? I know he or she cannot be named. Yet if Hamilton is not in the rooms now, this is where he should be. REAL people (not just millionaires who have more money than they know what to do with) who have hit rock bottom several times. People who can support him, not enable him. Yet the success stories, the redemption stories are there too. Hamilton does not or did not speak for the regular people. Whatever policies his teams have put into place were NOT enough.
My unpopular feeling is that the Angels front office is frustrated and have every right to be. Does that mean Arte Moreno and the Angels needed to shame Hamilton in the Angels press release? Of course not. Empathy can go a long way. Yet I think all Hamilton’s empaths have inadvertently been enablers. From his wife not giving him cash or he himself even believing that he cannot be trusted to carry cash…first line of defense is to trust someone. Most of all, yourself. If he can’t trust themselves around alcohol or drugs or strippers, perhaps the deep work has not yet occurred? Ignoring the problems won’t make it go away.
The first step is to recognize he’ll always be an addict. He can recover, but it will never not be a struggle. From my point of view, unfortunately he does not want that right now. Until this happens, expect to see more of these stories from Hamilton for many many years to come.