October 05, 2011
With the Texas Rangers visiting Tropicana Field for the ALDS, he took the opportunity to apologize to some still in the organization that drafted him first overall in 1999. The same team that never got a chance to have him play in the major leagues after drug problems sent Hamilton's budding career careening off the tracks.
Hamilton made the rounds in Tampa Bay after Game 3 and before Game 4 on Tuesday, and talked to a few reporters — including Jane Lee of MLB.com — about why:
"I was thinking about it in the outfield last night," the reigning AL MVP said. "With all of the stress and everything of that game yesterday, you know, thinking about and actually made some amends with trainers and with staff from the other side, from the Rays' side, because I don't think I ever had, as far as what I did and when I was here and my time. And they put a lot of time and effort into me, so just made an apology, a few yesterday."
Hamilton didn't specify with whom he spoke, or how they responded, but he's obviously wracked with guilt to this day. And it's sad. As wonderful as Hamilton's resurgence has been, and as classy as it is to apologize, his apology also offers a reminder of how tragic his story has been, and what an ordeal drug abuse can be for anyone. It victimizes more than just the drug abuser.
Hamilton knows his repentant ways won't erase what's been done, or bring back what could have been. He wouldn't change a thing about his past, given the faith and hope he fostered along the way. But that doesn't mean he doesn't think about it.
"And thinking about it for the fans' aspect of it yesterday," he said, "they were all expecting to see me with the Rays in Tropicana, in the outfield. But it doesn't work out that way all the time."
Oh, Hambone. I worry about Hamilton. He's not a friend, or anything, but I enjoy watching him play and I've interviewed him a few times. My gut feeling is that he's a nice, nice man. And very funny. And he's earnest about making up for what has happened. I root for him.
But he's still troubled; he'll always be struggling with his addictions. It's good of him to apologize. Hopefully, his apology is accepted by those he knows personally and Rays fans, even in the wake of Texas eliminating them — again — with Hamilton's help. But his disease isn't curable. His demons are always lurking.
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