When news of Josh Hamilton's relapse first broke on Thursday night, we wrote with certainty that the Texas Rangers star would soon be forthcoming and honest about his public moment of weakness.
As expected, Hamilton did just that on Friday afternoon, explaining the circumstances of his Monday night outing for more than 10 minutes at a press conference he held at Rangers Ballpark.
Hamilton did not take questions from the press, but he did speak without notes and what he said was obviously from the heart. As Ken Rosenthal later said on MLB Network, it almost appeared as if he viewed the press conference as part of his recovery process — and not to calm a press and public that, for better or worse, will always play a role in his battle with addiction.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has a transcript of the full statement, but here are a few of the key information points:
• Hamilton said he went out to dinner on Monday night and ordered "three or four" drinks. He then called teammate Ian Kinsler and invited him to hang out but did not drink in front of him at either of the two restaurants they visited. The two later parted ways when Kinsler dropped Hamilton off at his car, but Hamilton returned to one of the restaurants and resumed drinking.
• "Things happen to me personally that I'm not proud of," Hamilton said. "It was just wrong. That's all it comes down to. I needed to be responsible, period. And I was not responsible. Those actions hurt a lot of people who are very close to me."
• Hamilton apologized to his family and his fans. He cited great support from his wife Katie but noted that it's time for him to be "the strong one" in the relationship.
• "It's OK to be vulnerable, it's OK to show weakness," Hamilton said. "People are here for that reason, and they've done nothing but support me. It's a blessing for me to have them in my life."
• Hamilton closed his statement by noting he'd have liked to have been there to discuss a new contract — he becomes a free agent after the 2012 season — but that he'll put that deal "on the backburner for now."
All in all, it was a very impressive action for Hamilton to take. Part of the reason that so many fans — and yes, many members of the media — feel so invested in his battle is that he has been so brutally honest about the immense challenges he faces.
Are we also interested because this condition affects his future as both a baseball player and a big figure in the Christian community? I think we'd be lying if we said we weren't. Right or wrong, human beings are attracted to stories of struggle. With his position as an All-Star and 2010 AL MVP, Hamilton provides a heck of a story to follow.
But as we watch Hamilton bare his feelings about a fight that will never end, it's hard not to continue pulling for him. His battle wasn't over the last time he held a press conference like this one and it won't be over after holding this one. It only goes on and we can only hope for the best when he's faced with his next big test.