So the Los Angeles Angels are “disappointed.” I’m sure they are. Because Josh Hamilton – the man, the father, the addict and, somewhere distantly after that, the ballplayer – would have been better served, in their view, to have been disciplined for being every bit the person they scouted, researched, interviewed and hired.
Fortunately, however, Hamilton has the Angels to hold him accountable for his drug relapse, to remind him publicly that he has failed “himself, his family, his teammates and our fans,” according to a team release. They were kind enough not to mention their chief financial officer. Attributed to general manager Jerry Dipoto, the scolding followed Major League Baseball’s announcement that Hamilton could not be fined or suspended under the current drug program. Clearly displeased with the arbitrator’s decision, MLB issued a statement Friday that decried the system and refrained from further piling on a clearly unwell Hamilton.
Arte Moreno’s organization went in a slightly different direction.
“It defies logic,” team president John Carpino told reporters, “that Josh’s reported behavior is not a violation of his current program.”
That would be the Angels openly rooting for Josh Hamilton to be suspended (without pay) and then being disappointed he wasn’t.
“The Angels,” their statement read, “have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior …”
That would be the Angels throwing a fit over the union’s support of Hamilton (possibly to Hamilton’s detriment) and an arbitrator’s ruling that basically handed Hamilton back to the Angels with a note, “He’s all yours.”
No matter how one defines addiction – and the Angels’ blind belief in Hamilton two years ago in spite of a history of unsettling incidents might even qualify – the organization’s reaction Friday was heartless, mean-spirited and unnecessary.
And, ultimately, it changes nothing, because the facts are that Hamilton needs help personally and professionally, and just because the Angels said what they said out loud doesn’t alter what he probably already knew – the Angels seem to prefer he’d go away. He’s not the player he was with the Texas Rangers, he’s got another $83 million coming over the next three years and the addiction didn’t magically go away because the Angels hoped it would.
Now, who bears the responsibility for Josh Hamilton? Josh Hamilton does. Not the union. Not the Angels. Not MLB. Not an accountability coach. And, so far, Josh Hamilton has been up and down on that assignment. He’s home in Texas, recuperating from shoulder surgery and, presumably, sorting through his actions – and the consequences of those actions – from this winter.
And we know the Angels are “disappointed.” They were clear on that.
So what does Arte Moreno do?
He could send Hamilton an $83 million check. He could attempt to negotiate a buyout at something less than $83 million, which probably wouldn’t get him very far. He could live with his commitment to Hamilton – the man, the father, the addict and, out there somewhere, the ballplayer – and leave Hamilton’s participation as an Angel to whatever comes of Mike Scioscia’s lineup card.
What he needn’t do anymore is remind Hamilton he has failed himself and his family. Hamilton probably has that figured out on his own. And right about now could use a little kindness and a hand back up.
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