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Matt700wlw
04-18-2007, 05:01 PM
http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070418/COL03/704180369/1082/SPT

Matt700wlw
04-18-2007, 07:27 PM
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/jon_heyman/04/18/daily.scoop/index.html

Matt700wlw
04-19-2007, 06:14 PM
Are you all tired of these yet? :)


http://cbs.sportsline.com/columns/story/10137330

UGADaddy
04-19-2007, 06:19 PM
Are you all tired of these yet? :)

In a word: yes. And, also, what rock has CBS been living under for the past 2 months??

camisadelgolf
04-20-2007, 05:04 AM
I love the reactions from the readers:


How about Hamilton pays back the Devil Rays all the money he made while he was out getting high and living in a tattoo parlor and then I'll give a crap about him!


Ok, so, what Doyell is saying that if you are a "sure" thing hall-of-famer, then all you have to do is get into cocain, and you will be twice as popular as had you'd been a perfect person. I do not really understand this love he has for Hamilton. Maybe Doyell can relate to Hamilton's problem?


I don't wish ill will on him. If he get's his act together, good for him. But sorry if I'm jaded, but I'm done with all these losers who throw their opportunity away because of their stupidity. And that's exactly what he is. A loser. You can't wash the past away. Just another example of a loser getting chance after chance. The minor leagues are filled with guys who can play but never make. There is one more guy down there right now because this pampered baby. I say pampered because with the Devil Rays, they probably tried countless times to get him on the straight and narrow. And through it all, he's back. I'm tired of my kids seeing this and thinking it's no big deal to screw up and keep screwing up because you'll always get another chance. I'm OK with second chances, but this guy didn't get kicked out of baseball overnight by one or two mistakes. Again, if he stays clean, good for him. But I'm through riding that roller coaster.


I hated you before this article, hated you during it and still hate you after reading it. However, it is a great article, which I guess shows you do have some jounalistic intergrity. But don't let that big BALD head of yours swell up, as I am sure you will rattle of doosy next time.


He would rank higher on my hero meter if he could somehow manage to stay on crack and still be this good.

And this entire thread is pretty good: http://cbs.sportsline.com/mcc/messages/chrono/2229946

Rotater Cuff
04-20-2007, 06:56 AM
Excerpted from St. Petersburg Times, 10/24/99
http://www.sptimes.com/News/102499/Worldandnation/Greener_than_grass.shtml
The odds of making it favored the higher draft picks. First-round picks were given a 66 percent shot, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. For those who survived, the journey to the major leagues took four to six years.
Tony Hamilton predicted his son would make it in three.
So not only was Josh expected to make it, he had prognosticators accelerating his arrival.
There were no guarantees. Brien Taylor, the 1991 top pick who signed with the New York Yankees for $1.55-million, was injured in a bar brawl and never climbed past Double A.
Scouts and coaches used the word "old-fashioned" to describe Josh, as if the pinstripes of his forefathers were stitched across his antique heart. And yet he came to Princeton thoroughly a boy. He drank six or seven large colas with his meal. He tapped his cap with his fork. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. He drenched his meat in a half-bottle of A-1 sauce. He played with his napkin.
He was not much of a communicator. His words were carved off at either end, so that he would finish saying what he needed to say and be done with it.
"North Carolina" was "nof-ca-lina."
Even "doggone" was hacked to "dag."

Josh Hamilton didn't just walk out of the brushy pines of North Carolina. He'd been reared for glory.
Tony Hamilton was a high school athlete -- football, baseball, karate, hell, he didn't care, bring it on -- who grew up on a hog and chicken farm in Oxford, N.C. Linda Hamilton was a competitive amateur softball player from Raleigh. They met on a baseball diamond one rainy day. Six months later, they married. They had two sons, Jason and Josh.
Tony's job as a shop foreman at the Ditch Witch dealership in Raleigh paid the bills, but his real career was coaching his wife and sons. The concession stand became the Hamilton family dinner table.
The Hamiltons joined leagues like some people went to church. Coach-Pitch, Pee-Wee, American Legion, it was year-round registration. Josh played soccer, baseball and football. He ran track until his feet outgrew manufactured track shoes.

Tony and Linda assessed their youngest son's gifts. Josh was a lefty with brute strength and good speed. They decided he should focus exclusively on baseball. Anyway, Tony would later say, "Soccer is about the dumbest sport there is. What kinda sport don't let you use your hands?"
Josh practiced his 100 nightly tri-cut swings in the living room in front of the mirror. "We got a 46-inch TV sittin' there, God, boy, go in your room and twirl that thing," his mother scolded.
Tony weaned Josh off the aluminum bats and switched him to wood. He bought a 10-pound medicine ball to strengthen Josh's forearms and wrists for bat speed.
The pro scouts began clogging the stands at Athens Drive High during Josh's senior year. He stuck to his routine. On game days, he stood outside his '89 Camaro in the school parking lot and changed into his uniform, always blasting the same two songs: Double Trouble by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Brand New Key by Melanie.
He was batting .529. He played centerfield and pitched, with a fastball in the mid-90s. Turn down the heat, Tony told him, or "they'll draft you as a pitcher and you'll spend all your time sittin' on your butt."
Josh's arm strength and his 6.7-second 60-yard dash made him an excellent candidate for rightfield or center. Despite his gargantuan feet, he moved up, back and laterally with ease. He always seemed to catch the ball in the center of his glove.
Major league clubs on the verge of opening up their wallets do their homework. A prospect's buddies are taken out for little rides. Girlfriends and coaches are quizzed. Josh filled out psychological questionnaires. His body was poked and prodded. An eye exam revealed he had 20/10 vision. What most people could see at 10 feet, Josh could see at 20 feet. Like a small white ball traveling at 88 mph.

sonny
04-20-2007, 07:05 AM
Thats a very good read. We hear about his rise out of the ashes of drug abuse, and rightly so, but this is fantastic. It really gives a better picture of this young man.

George Anderson
04-20-2007, 10:51 AM
Excerpted from St. Petersburg Times, 10/24/99
http://www.sptimes.com/News/102499/Worldandnation/Greener_than_grass.shtml
He played centerfield and pitched, with a fastball in the mid-90s. Turn down the heat, Tony told him, or "they'll draft you as a pitcher and you'll spend all your time sittin' on your butt."
.

Not like I am going out on a limb here, but I just betcha Josh is better than anyone in our bullpen this year.

Sea Ray
04-20-2007, 11:15 AM
Tony would later say, "Soccer is about the dumbest sport there is. What kinda sport don't let you use your hands?"

Josh's Dad is OK by me...



Josh practiced his 100 nightly tri-cut swings in the living room in front of the mirror. "We got a 46-inch TV sittin' there, God, boy, go in your room and twirl that thing," his mother scolded.
Tony weaned Josh off the aluminum bats and switched him to wood. He bought a 10-pound medicine ball to strengthen Josh's forearms and wrists for bat speed.

Stories like these show that it's not just that he's a natural. He's really worked at it, as is usually the case

HotCorner
04-20-2007, 02:29 PM
http://assets.espn.go.com/i/page2/topstory/04202007_pg2_big.jpg (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=pearlman/070420&sportCat=mlb)

Note: Image linked to story.

Razor Shines
04-20-2007, 02:47 PM
Josh's Dad is OK by me...




Stories like these show that it's not just that he's a natural. He's really worked at it, as is usually the case

That's why I think that Bill James quote is so stupid. "There is no logic to admiring athletes, anyway. It's just arbitrary. It's like admiring people who won the lottery."
Please. Playing a professional sport takes a lot of hard work, no matter how talented you are. It's true that hard work does not trump natural ability, but without hard work you're not going to do anything with that natural ability. Lottery winners? Seriously? I guess I don't know the context of that quote, maybe he was being sarcastic. I hope.

Natty Redlocks
04-20-2007, 04:47 PM
This seems like a good place to post this one (http://www.sptimes.com/News/102699/Worldandnation/Ring_the_bell.shtml) that I found. Apparently, his "gateway drug" of choice was Fruity Pebbles.

Matt700wlw
04-20-2007, 05:37 PM
http://assets.espn.go.com/i/page2/topstory/04202007_pg2_big.jpg (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=pearlman/070420&sportCat=mlb)

Note: Image linked to story.


Awesome story.

Matt700wlw
04-20-2007, 05:38 PM
That's why I think that Bill James quote is so stupid. "There is no logic to admiring athletes, anyway. It's just arbitrary. It's like admiring people who won the lottery."
.

That is stupid.

RedEye
04-20-2007, 06:18 PM
That's why I think that Bill James quote is so stupid. "There is no logic to admiring athletes, anyway. It's just arbitrary. It's like admiring people who won the lottery."
Please. Playing a professional sport takes a lot of hard work, no matter how talented you are. It's true that hard work does not trump natural ability, but without hard work you're not going to do anything with that natural ability. Lottery winners? Seriously? I guess I don't know the context of that quote, maybe he was being sarcastic. I hope.

I agree with the poster that James's quote is a bit silly -- lottery winners are definitely the wrong analogy here. However, I agree with the larger point, in that there are a lot of people in this world who spend a lot of time working hard in other ways and don't get recognized nearly as much as athletes do. I think that's why those Peyton Manning commercials where he cheers for the 'everday' people (paper boys, coffee house workers, etc.) annoy me so much. I mean, those people already know that they aren't being recognized, don't they? And isn't it just patently not funny for Peyton Manning to rub it in in such a haughty manner? I'll readily admit that I might just be over-sensitive, but sheesh!

So how does this relate to Josh Hamilton and the Reds? Let's see if I can unpack my thoughts for all of you.

Of course, by taking part in this forum, I am every bit as much part of the vast sports culture machinery as the next person -- probably more so even. Sports are a huge part of my existence, as I think they are for most people who contribute to RedsZone. However, the way sports operate in our country does give me pause to think once in awhile -- and my thoughts aren't all positive. It's as if sports create this impenetrable ether for us to bask in without thinking about what's really going on in the world.

The past few weeks have been particularly poignant in this regard. Don Imus's misdeeds have actually created some ire among a few of my friends because they obligate sports talk and coverage to actually deal with something other than the safe, bounded universe they are familiar with when they turn on ESPN -- the one that gets them away from the chaos and uncertainty of media coverage dominated by a certain war and photos of Seung Cho. One of the many sad aspects of Virginia Tech is that it often takes tragedies like this to make us realize that there are a lot of other heroic professions, attitudes, and just ways of "dwelling" in the world that never get the constant attention we reserve for athletes. Having traveled a bit and lived in other places, I really think there is something specific and bizarre about the way America treats athletic prowess, and it starts (I think) with the alignment between sports and the education system, something that many other countries see as strange--and something I don't have time to treat in depth here.

So how does this relate to Josh Hamilton? Well, arbitrarily at best. Let me try to explain. Watching him play over the past few weeks, as he fills up my fantasy team with statistics while all of these upsetting things swirl around in other windows on my desktop, has been strangely therapeutic. Just a click away, one tab over on my Firefox browser, there is a human interest story that is uplifting, inspiring and safe. A story about an individual conquering odds much larger than those it takes to hit a 95 mph fastball. And read that story I have. Many, many, many times.

Is this healthy? I'm not sure. I'm not even sure that it isn't evidence for my own complicity with an increasingly screwed-up, a-political form of citizenship in this country.

But it sure does help me get through the day.

cincinnati chili
04-21-2007, 03:32 AM
James' quote may not apply to all athletes, but it is spot on for guys like Hamilton.

Staying clean will require a lot of hard work. Baseball, otoh, has come unnaturally easy to him, like dollars to the lottery winners.

fearofpopvol1
04-21-2007, 04:15 AM
Not a news article, but I figured this would be the place to post it.

Does anybody watch Pardon the Interruption on ESPN? Today, they did an Over/Under for Josh Hamilton and 30 home runs for the season. Tony said over and Wilbon said under although he said he does think Hamilton will reach over by next season.

I thought that was pretty cool that he was a topic today. What's everyone else think about over/under 30 for JH this year.

He's on pace to shatter 30...but it's a long season and 30 is a lot. I'd like to think he could do and I think if I had to choose I would say over...

Donder
04-21-2007, 07:27 AM
Not like I am going out on a limb here, but I just betcha Josh is better than anyone in our bullpen this year.

I seem to remember that Roy Hobbs was a pretty good pitcher too. :) Maybe I'll watch The Natural before going to the game today.

jmac
04-21-2007, 08:31 AM
Not a news article, but I figured this would be the place to post it.

Does anybody watch Pardon the Interruption on ESPN? Today, they did an Over/Under for Josh Hamilton and 30 home runs for the season. Tony said over and Wilbon said under although he said he does think Hamilton will reach over by next season.

I thought that was pretty cool that he was a topic today. What's everyone else think about over/under 30 for JH this year.

He's on pace to shatter 30...but it's a long season and 30 is a lot. I'd like to think he could do and I think if I had to choose I would say over...

I would take the over as I figure 500 ab's would put him in that neighborhood.

OesterPoster
04-21-2007, 08:53 AM
This isn't really a news article, but the blog "on the DL" has lots of negative comments of Josh Hamilton by their blog posters. I'd like to think their guesses are way off base on mystery baseball player #3.


3. Rehab Is For Quitters
Which supposedly reformed bad boy has reportedly hit a few bumps along the road to sobriety? A source claims that the recently bulked up cutie pie was spotted feeling no pain on several occasions in bars with women who were most certainly not his wife during spring training. On the positive side, none of this seems to be having an adverse effect on his job status, as his manager seems hell bent on getting him a fulltime position with the team regardless of which veteran players might get pushed aside to make room for him. The manager is so enamored with him that he has even gone as far as to arrange photo-ops which portray his prized player as a good family man. The photo session might have gone better had the player in question been given enough time to sober up from the night before.

http://itsasecretsohush.blogspot.com/

Sea Ray
04-21-2007, 09:35 AM
My guess is for under but that doesn't take anything away from Josh nor does it mean he becomes a minor leaguer again. I'm just betting that he hits a wall. He's not used to the grind of a 162 game season. It would behoove Narron to sit him a little in July and August with the hope that he can get a second wind like Arroyo did in Sept last year. However it's April now and Hamilton is hot. You gotta ride this wave on an everyday basis for the time being.

Redsland
04-21-2007, 12:35 PM
I seem to remember that Roy Hobbs was a pretty good pitcher too. :)
Struck out The Whammer on three pitched balls, he did.

Razor Shines
04-21-2007, 01:35 PM
James' quote may not apply to all athletes, but it is spot on for guys like Hamilton.

Staying clean will require a lot of hard work. Baseball, otoh, has come unnaturally easy to him, like dollars to the lottery winners.

No it's not. Josh worked very hard on his game while he was rehabbing at that Winning Inning complex. It's a joke that you think that he can just roll out of bed and be a good baseball player. There is no doubt that he's got loads and loads of talent, but without hard work to sharpen that talent he wouldn't be playing the bigs right now. It's nothing like winning the lottery. There are probably far more people who have the natural ability to play professional sports but waste it because they don't work hard enough than there are those who do work hard and make it professional sports.

fearofpopvol1
04-22-2007, 10:12 PM
Edit: nevermind

Razor Shines
04-22-2007, 10:15 PM
http://assets.espn.go.com/i/page2/topstory/04202007_pg2_big.jpg (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=pearlman/070420&sportCat=mlb)

Note: Image linked to story.

It was. ^

vaticanplum
04-23-2007, 11:06 PM
Hope I didn't miss this one posted anywhere...from the New York Times yesterday:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/sports/baseball/22chass.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Unassisted
04-27-2007, 02:14 PM
http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7007174769


Josh Hamilton: The Long Road Back To The Baseball Diamond For A Can't-Miss Prospect Turned Recovering Addict

April 27, 2007 7:51 a.m. EST

Todd Sikorski - AHN Sports Reporter

West Palm Beach, FL (AHN) - Despite the 2007 major league baseball season not being even one month old, there have been plenty of great stories to make a baseball fan smile.

Alex Rodriguez finally got some love from the New York Yankees faithful, even though he needed a monstrous home run binge to earn it. Mark Buehrle pitched one of the best games in recent memory when his no-hitter against the Texas Rangers featured him facing the minimum 27 batters but missed a perfect game because of a lone walk to Sammy Sosa.

Still, the best story of the year, hands down, is the one that is taking place in Cincinnati. It involves the former 1999 No. 1 overall draft pick Josh Hamilton who not only made the Reds opening day roster after eight years of injury and drug problems, but he is also currently playing so well the club has to find creative ways to get him into the lineup every day.

For those not familiar with Hamilton's story, read on.

THE BOY WONDER

Hamilton's story started in Raleigh, North Carolina when he was born on May 21, 1981. He was basically groomed to be great in sports because both of his parents, Tony and Linda Hamilton, were accomplished athletes.

Tony played in any sport he could during his high school years and his wife was an amateur softball player.

With his parents' guidance and his own dogged determination, Josh Hamilton went on to become one of the best high school baseball players in North Carolina history. In his last year at Athens Drive High in Raleigh, the youngster played centerfield and pitched. Not only did he bat over .500 in his senior year but he also threw a fastball over 90 mph.

The major league scouts took notice of Hamilton's talents right away.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the team that was most in awe of the high schooler.

Dan Jennings, a scout with the club back then but who is now in the Florida Marlins front office, recently told the Indianapolis Star his initial thoughts on Hamilton.

"Other than Alex Rodriquez, he is the best amateur player I've ever scouted," he said. "That's not too bad. And I give Alex the edge only because he was a shortstop."

Consequently, it was no surprise when the Devil Rays made high school All-American the first pick in the 1999 amateur draft and rewarded him with a $3.96 million signing bonus.

LIFE IN THE MINOR LEAGUES

Unlike an NBA draft pick, any baseball pick, no matter how high, finds himself playing in the minor leagues for at least one or two years before getting called up to the big leagues.

Hamilton knew this and he was ready for his climb into his assumed eventual rise into the Tampa Bay lineup. The club decided to groom him as its eventual starting center fielder, or even right fielder, instead of as a pitcher. His offensive talents were just too substantial to ignore.

Initially, Hamilton adjusted well to the minor league life as he played for a couple of different minor league teams. His parents aided his transition by attending games on the road and providing him with a support system as he began his pro career.

In his first season at the rookie league level, Hamilton showed the baseball world glimpses of what could be to come. He hit .347 with 10 homers, 47 RBIs and swiped 17 bases in 56 games for the Princeton Devil Rays on Tampa Bay's rookie league team.

A year later, playing nearly a whole season for the Single A affiliate, the Charleston Riverdogs of the South Atlantic league, Hamilton enjoyed another solid year, hitting .302 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs while seeing 391 at bats.

Still, despite early success in the rookie leagues, injuries began to take a toll.

The worst and the one that was a big part of Josh's eventual downfall was not even baseball related. In February 2001, he was in a traffic accident along with his mother Linda.

A truck slammed into the vehicle Linda was driving and both Hamiltons were hurt badly. Josh injured his back and his mother received enough damage to her body that she needed frequent visits to doctors so she, along with Tony, returned to Raleigh.

Hamilton played in only four games for Charleston that season and when he returned from the injury, he was sent to the Double A affiliate in Orlando of the Southern League. There he struggled with his swing in just 23 games, hitting all of .180 while striking out 22 times in 89 at bats.

His parents' departure left Josh alone for the first time in his life and not able to play baseball. He soon found himself bored and he was quick on his way to starting a damaging descent into the world of drugs.

THE DARK YEARS

Hamilton's troubles from 2001until 2005 in which he fought, and lost at different stages, his drug addictions is brilliantly documented in a story by Dave Sheinin in a February 2007 article that appeared in the Washington Post.

Josh Hamilton revealed his first venture into the darker side of life came as a result of hanging out at a tattoo parlor.

"My first drink, my first drink ever, was at a strip club down there, with the tattoo guys," he told Sheinin. "Pretty soon, I started using. First the powder (cocaine). Then crack. I was 20."

The outfielder did not want to blame his friends back then for his problems though.

"They weren't bad people," he said. "They just did bad things."

And those bad things were exactly what Hamilton did for a long time. Many of his days were filled in a constant haze caused by his use of cocaine and alcohol. He did return to baseball every once in a while but only for a short period of time because of injuries.

In 2002, he put in another successful season with the Bakersfield Blaze out of the California League. He hit .303 with nine homers and 44 RBIs in 211 at bats. It would be his last minor league season until 2006 as his drug troubles began to catch up with him.

Eventually, baseball was the furthest thing in his mind.

"With what I was going through, I wasn't thinking about anything but using," Hamilton revealed to the Washington Post writer. "I honestly thought I might never play baseball again."

Not surprisingly, baseball did not seem to want him either. After a bunch of failed drug tests and unsuccessful stints in rehab clinics, Major League Baseball suspended the once promising outfielder indefinitely.

In the end, Josh did not play any baseball, at any level, for over three years.

Things finally reached a head when Hamilton's wife, Katie, who he wed in late 2004 asked for a separation only six months after their nuptials because of Josh's problems.

Not long after that, on October 6, 2005, Hamilton got high for the last time.

He suddenly realized he had nothing positive in his life anymore. He alienated his wife, parents, and friends and there was a chance his newborn child, Sierra, would not figure in his future.

Josh finally decided to get his act together and it came as no surprise that baseball played a big part in it.

THE ROAD BACK

After deciding to kick drugs, Hamilton gradually reconnected with his family including Katie. He was clean for almost four months when the prospect of playing baseball again gave him some extra motivation.

Josh went to at a baseball academy in Clearwater, Florida called 'The Winning Inning,' where he was allowed to live and train there as long as he worked. Work amounted to doing unglamorous, humbling jobs such as taking out the trash and mowing the field.

Still, Hamilton could not return to Major League Baseball because of the suspension. The league ultimately lifted the punishment last June after various letters were written on his behalf.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays immediately sent the now 25-year-old back to the same rookie league team he played for seven years ago. He was brought back ot the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn league (Single A affiliate), whom he spent 16 games with in 1999.

The return to the minor leagues was not the most successful initially. He hit .260 with five RBIs in 15 games in 2006. His play did not inspire enough confidence in Tampa Bay for the organization to put him on their 40-man roster.

As a result, the Chicago Cubs picked him in the Rule 5 draft and the club dealt Hamilton to the Cincinnati Reds for a small amount of money.

The Reds' General Manager Wayne Krivsky was one of the men in Hamilton's corner.

"We felt with his upside, if he had his life together, it was well worth the gamble based on the raw ability he showed over the years," he recently told the New York Times.

Even though the club would have lost the rights to Hamilton if it did not keep him on its 25-man active roster all year, a job as a backup outfielder with the Reds was not a given. He had to earn it.

He did that and more as he led Cincinnati in hitting in spring training this year with a .403 average. He also hit safely in 21 of the 25 games he played so it was a no-brainer when the Reds had him on their roster for opening day.

It is probably safe to assume Hamilton would not believe his good fortunes until he actually got an at-bat in a Reds uniform. His comments to the MLB.com website the day of his first game were especially telling.

"I didn't get any sleep," he said. "I was thinking about so much stuff, where I've come from and what kind of road it's been. I'm finally here."

As for that first game, it was not your typical Hollywood ending. He came into the game against the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter and flied out to left field.

SUCCESS ON A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DIAMOND

Hamilton might have that perfect Hollywood "feel good" ending after all, however. His story has become even more satisfying because he has played extremely well ever since that Cubs game.

So well, Reds manager Jerry Narron has been forced to find a way to get Hamilton into his team's lineup as much as he can. Not bad for someone who was just supposed to be a backup outfielder.

Through April 26, the 25-year-old rookie is batting .294 and he leads the club in home runs with six and is second in RBIs with 12, despite only having 51 at-bats.

While it is hard to imagine Hamilton continuing to hit like that for the rest of the year, the start is great to see. However, he still has a long road ahead of him, especially in regard to staying sober. Life on the road and living in hotels is probably not the most desirable for a recovering addict.

The Reds have said they have a support system for their budding star.

However, the joy of being on the baseball field, along with the support of his family, might just be all Hamilton needs to stay out of trouble.

"There's no reason I should be here," he was quoted as saying after he got his first start in the outfield. "I just took my hat off a few times in the outfield and just looked around. I was kind of taking it all in . . . It was just an awesome feeling."

A feeling that has turned into the best story in baseball. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

Unassisted
04-27-2007, 02:16 PM
http://www.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070427/NEWS/704270461/1009/SPORTS


Hamilton comes back on, off field

Josh Hamilton’s story wasn’t unfamiliar when he began spring training with Cincinnati, and it didn’t take long for knowledge of his fantasy potential to catch up.

The tale began with the highest of high expectations. Hamilton was chosen by Tampa Bay with the top pick of the 1999 draft. For further perspective on that, chosen after him in the first round were Josh Beckett, Barry Zito and Ben Sheets.

The tale continued with some of the lowest lows, however, as cocaine addiction cost Hamilton three seasons of minor-league experience. He saw steady minor-league time through 2002, then didn’t get into a game until playing in 15 for the Hudson Valley Renegades of the Single-A New York-Penn League in 2006.


Then, in December’s Rule 5 draft, Hamilton was picked by the Cubs, who shipped his rights to Cincinnati for cash considerations.

The Reds had an apparently crowded outfield with all-power Adam Dunn in left, all-time-great Ken Griffey Jr. in right, and all-position-playing Ryan Freel in center, but having an all-tool player back up those three wasn’t a bad proposition.

After all, even if his résumé has that large black hole in the middle, Hamilton did play in 266 minor-league games, batted .293, hit 33 homers, drove in 171 runs, and stole 44 bases.

Hamilton had a trio of pinch-hit at-bats over his team’s first seven regular-season games and didn’t get a hit, but he did receive an opening-day standing ovation from his home crowd, which must have been just as satisfying.

Adding a layer to the feel-goodness of the story, when he did record that first major league at-bat, it was a home run off Arizona’s Edgar Gonzalez on April 10.

Need another layer? Hamilton then started in place of Griffey the next day and blasted another homer.

Reds manager Jerry Narron had his hand forced and started getting Hamilton more at-bats by rotating his four outfielders. And then something no one could have seen coming happened — and by no one, I mean everyone — Griffey was relegated to pinch-hitting duties, this time due to a bout with diverticulitis.

All told, after Wednesday’s game, Hamilton had seen action in 16 games, batting .298 with 6 home runs, 12 RBIs, 11 runs, and a stolen base.

That’s a better batting average than Chase Utley and Vernon Wells, more homers than Ryan Howard and Manny Ramírez, and more RBIs than Jim Thome and Miguel Tejada.

Those numbers make fantasy owners take notice.

On a check Saturday night, Hamilton was owned in 64.6 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, an increase of 29.9 percent over the week before. On Monday morning, he was up to 77.4. A final check yesterday morning had him down to 73.2 percent, but that’s better than another stint in rehab.

The Reds outfielder isn’t alone in his struggles away from the diamond. During this era when performance-enhancing drugs get the headlines, drugs of abuse are also prevalent. Six players have been suspended under the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program this season — two for PEDs, two for drugs of abuse, one for an unannounced reason, and one for refusing to take a test.

The proportion last year was much more in favor of the performance enhancers, but there were still three players suspended for drugs of abuse under the same program.

All this comes with a spotlight this year. The biggest questions in the major leagues surround drug use as Barry Bonds makes his climb to Hank Aaron’s lofty perch: Is it a legitimate mark? Did he use steroids? If not, what condition has given him a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade head?

Chances are that there will never be definitive answers to these questions — though, for what it’s worth, my take is, yes, yes and he can’t help it, he just loves cornbread stuffing that much — and that’s because Bonds gives no answers. At least Hamilton has admitted to his wrongdoings.

To keep this column within its intended realm, Bonds is re-establishing himself as an elite fantasy player with a bargain price tag. Heading into yesterday, he was batting .346 with seven homers, 15 RBIs and a bonus stolen base. All this could have been had for the average draft pick of 120 in ESPN fantasy leagues, and he’s still not owned in all of those leagues.

Granted, he is in 99.8 percent of them, but that’s still not 100. I suspect those final leagues have personally put the kibosh on Barry ownership.

All of those numbers outperform Hamilton, and Bonds has a much more entrenched position in San Francisco than Hamilton does in Cincinnati’s floating rotation. The rookie is getting ample playing time at the moment, but will it only take one short slump for Narron to relegate him to part-time status with three other solid candidates to fill the outfield slots?

Narron himself probably doesn’t have an answer to that quandary at the moment. For now, Hamilton is proving a good third outfield option for fantasy leagues. Whether he climbs higher than that or slides is a concern that requires weekly monitoring.

That’s his fantasy value, anyway. His real value is much more.

This is a time when drug use is sports gets as much attention as uncomfortable kisses from Richard Gere and the tragedy that is Rosie O’Donnell leaving daytime TV — again. Oh, the horror, the injustice of it all.

Celebrity gossip and sports are connected in their attention-grabbing aspects, though, as they both offer a form of escape from the everyday world. It’s that escapism that helps give steroids the attention they’ve received.

How can players tamper with the sanctity of something so perfect? How can they be so cruel as to skew the numbers I look at in the box scores every morning?

Because they’re people, and people fall prey to drug addiction.

But people also come back from it, and it’s that power of redemption that Hamilton represents. Sometimes sports don’t have to only be an escape, sometimes they teach an actual life lesson.

Hamilton’s tutorial strikes a deeper chord within me. The horrors of drug addiction have had a direct impact on my life as my brother followed much the same trajectory of Hamilton. Not that he was ever a first-round draft pick in anything, but he does mirror the multiple trips to rehab.

Hamilton made eight such excursions, but I can’t compare the numbers as I unfortunately lost count.

Currently, though, my brother is experiencing his own current hot streak at the plate, having moved with his family to Michigan and entered Bible college. He also helps run a teen group within his church.

Personally, I am an atheist, so we certainly don’t see eye-to-eye on religion, but I am happy there is something out there that helps him make sense of life.

I am also happy that I have this forum to say it. I have always been more adept at expressing my thoughts on paper than with my voice, so haven’t said many of the things concerning the subject I often wish I have.

But the idea of learning lessons is that we can then take them and apply them.

So, Justin: I am so proud of you.

TeamBoone
04-27-2007, 04:00 PM
Friday, April 27, 2007


Reds' Hamilton not scared of relapse
Finally overcomes drug, alcohol abuse
By Paul Meyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Bradenton, Fla., is where Pirates careers begin. It's also where some Pirates careers end.

For Josh Hamilton, Bradenton meant something else entirely.

"That's where everything started to happen," said former Pirates general manager Cam Bonifay.

None of it good.

Until this spring.

It was just a couple of months ago -- some of the time in games in Bradenton, but most of the time in nearby Sarasota where the Cincinnati Reds conduct spring training -- that Josh Hamilton's apparently derailed baseball career got back on track.

And he learned that perhaps there is still time for him to fulfill a youthful boast he made when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays made the left-handed hitting outfielder the No. 1 overall pick in June 1999.

He had just turned 18 years old when he faced reporters after agreeing to a $3.96 million bonus.

"I'm thinking three years in the minors, then maybe 15 years in the majors," Hamilton said. "Then I'll have to wait five years to get into the Hall of Fame."

Hamilton, however, soon would have to wait four years to get onto a baseball field again.

And he will be at PNC Park tonight with his Cincinnati teammates. In the majors. And no doubt in the lineup during this three-game series.

Said Bonifay, now a scout for St. Louis: "This is one of the best stories we've had in the industry in years."

Hamilton's arrival in the major leagues should have happened a lot sooner than 2007. But if it had, it wouldn't have been quite the story it is.

This is a story of unlimited potential that became almost unlimited alcohol and crack cocaine use.

It began in Bradenton, Fla., Feb. 28, 2001, when a dump truck ran a red light and smashed into a pickup truck in which Hamilton rode with his parents, who followed him everywhere in those days.

Hamilton's back was injured. His mother's injuries were worse, and she went home with her husband to North Carolina to continue treatment.

For the first time in his life, Josh Hamilton was alone.

Not good.

As he rehabbed his back injury, he discovered he had way too much down time.

He began spending a lot of that time in a tattoo parlor near Bradenton. Soon, he also began going to a strip bar with people he met at the tattoo parlor. Alcohol use followed. Then drugs.

"I made bad choices," Hamilton said at a Sarasota news conference in February, the only time he discussed his past. "I went looking for something I shouldn't have to fill that void that was there. The choices I made were my choices. They weren't the best choices."

Hamilton, plagued by injuries throughout the early years of his minor-league career, managed to play in the Devil Rays' system in 2001 and some of 2002 before his drug addiction landed him on Tampa Bay's restricted list May 15, 2003.

On Feb. 18, 2004, Major League Baseball suspended Hamilton for violating the industry's joint drug treatment and prevention program.

"It's a vicious cycle," Hamilton said. "When you're involved in drug use and alcohol abuse, you look for anything to set you off to drink or use. I'd be fine for a month and then something would happen and I'd go back to using. It was a cycle that kept repeating itself."

It didn't end until October 2005. Separated from his wife, Katie, and their two young children, Hamilton sought refuge with his grandmother, Mary Holt, in North Carolina. The 6-foot-4 Hamilton weighed 180 pounds, 50 pounds under his playing weight.

"The biggest low point was facing her," Hamilton said. "She welcomed me with open arms. She really wanted me to stop using. I wanted to stop using. When I lived there the first couple of weeks, I used a couple of times.

"One time, she knew I was using. She said she couldn't take it anymore. I was hurting people I loved. I was making them worry. My grandmother seeing me like that was the turning point."

With a lot of help, Hamilton stayed sober. Last June, MLB granted him limited workout privileges. Four weeks later, MLB gave him permission to play in minor-league games.

He appeared in 15 games for Hudson Valley, Tampa Bay's short-season entry in the New York-Penn League where he had played briefly -- a lifetime ago -- in 1999.

A knee injury soon ended his abbreviated 2006 comeback, and the Devil Rays left him unprotected in the Rule Five draft last December.

The Reds had done some background work on Hamilton leading to the draft and decided they would take him. To be sure they could, they worked out a deal with the Chicago Cubs, who picked higher in the draft.

The Reds gave the Cubs $50,000 to give to Tampa Bay -- the draft cost for a player -- then the Cubs traded Hamilton to Cincinnati for another $50,000.

A gamble?

"You take gambles every day," Cincinnati general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "We didn't know for sure, but we knew the upside was there."

And had been there.

"One of the finest young position players there was," said Bonifay, who worked in Tampa Bay's minor-league system beginning in 2002. "He had it all, this guy. He was a special player. There was no question about his ability."

Hamilton had to prove himself in spring training. If the Reds decided they couldn't keep him on their major-league roster, they had to offer him back to Tampa Bay, which would have accepted him.

All Hamilton did this spring was hit .403 in 72 at-bats, play good defense and earn a roster spot.

"He did everything you'd want to see," Krivsky said.

"The most amazing feat I can remember," Bonifay said. "He looked like he belonged at the major-league level. For his baseball ability to come to the forefront after everything he had gone through, I just couldn't believe it."

Hamilton made his long-awaited major-league debut opening day in Cincinnati. He received a huge ovation when he was announced as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and another after he lined to left.

"It gave me the chills," Cincinnati outfielder Ryan Freel told reporters of those ovations. "It's what it's all about, being clean. It's another reminder of where he's at and where he could be. It shows a lot of what Cincinnati fans are about. For them to respect what he's gone through and come out here and get to where he's at, fans realize that. It was an unbelievable moment."

Eight nights later in Phoenix, Hamilton got his first major-league hit -- a home run -- and he has played almost regularly ever since.

"You have to give Josh a lot of credit -- battling back from adversity to have success," Krivsky said. "He hasn't let it go to his head. He's a level-headed kid. He's taking it one day at a time."

"Hopefully, he can continue to win the battle," Bonifay said. "I'm sure it is a battle every day."

"Occasionally, I'll have a dream about using," said Hamilton, who is subject to drug testing at least three times a week. "I used to have dreams about using where I actually used. But now the drug-test guys are in my dreams with me. I have the choice to either take the test or use. So far, I've been taking the test.

"My wife, Katie, and I asked God to put us wherever He thought we should be, and here we are with Cincinnati. God's grace got me here. I'm living every day trying to be a responsible man and trying to be in the right places, knowing I have people who care about me at home and at work. There were many times I thought I'd never play again because of the lifestyle I had been living. Nobody can do anything productive out of what I was doing."

Is he scared of having a relapse?

"No," Hamilton said. "I'm at peace with my life right now. Nothing frightens me. I tore my body down for three years, but I'm still able to play. That's not me. That's the Lord.

"I know there are temptations. The devil is going to come at me hard. I don't know from where yet, [but] we'll handle it when it comes. [The Bible] says, 'Humble yourself before God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. That's what I try to do every day. With God, anything's possible."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07117/781483-63.stm

Razor Shines
04-27-2007, 04:25 PM
"I know there are temptations. The devil is going to come at me hard. I don't know from where yet, [but] we'll handle it when it comes. [The Bible] says, 'Humble yourself before God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. That's what I try to do every day. With God, anything's possible."

I like that part the best. I like that he knows that it's probably going to get harder before it gets easier. If he were saying that he doesn't think he'll be tempted then I'd be more worried for him. Whether you believe in God or not, it has to be good to know that he's preparing himself for when the big temptation comes.

I don't envy the position he's put himself in, I wouldn't want to have to resist the type of temptation he's going to feel.

cincinnati chili
04-28-2007, 10:11 AM
No it's not. Josh worked very hard on his game while he was rehabbing at that Winning Inning complex. It's a joke that you think that he can just roll out of bed and be a good baseball player. . .



It's nothing like winning the lottery. There are probably far more people who have the natural ability to play professional sports but waste it because they don't work hard enough than there are those who do work hard and make it professional sports.

Having not followed Josh Hamilton around for the past 12 months, I cannot contradict the first part of your statement. Maybe he's a special case.

Having spent a small amount of time around a big league organization, it is my opinion that very, very, very, very few professional baseball players between the ages of 18-30 work "hard." Sure, some work harder than others, but I think it's a myth that the vast majority of these players are out looking at video or spending extra time in the cage when they're not required to do so. The vast majority are either playing video games or chasing girls.

Again, just my opinion, but I'd rank natural talent as by far the most important factor in player success, followed in a distant second by maturity. One component of maturity is the ability to focus and work hard, while another is the ability to filter out negativity and come to terms with the business side of the game. (E.g. Read up on the Pirates' Solomon Torres. He left the game for years and years, despite having the talent and preparation skills to be on several big league teams, until he came to terms with the business side of the game).

By and large, James is right. The guys you watch on TV won the lottery, while we didn't. By and large, the guys you watch on TV DON'T work hard. They work 4 or 5 hour days.

Unless you're on a battlefield in Iraq or a mineshaft in West Virginia, five hour days is not working hard.

Guys with lesser talent who work 12 hours days at baseball skills won't usurp them.

RFS62
04-28-2007, 10:23 AM
As much as I love this story and love the whole "prodigal son" aspect of the entire deal, I have to agree.

Talent trumps all. No talent, no career.

Huge talent, potential huge career.

You still have to work, and many of them work hard. Everything's relative in that regard. I've been in a coal mine and they don't always work their asses off every minute there either.

But to the point, nothing trumps talent on this level.

RFS62
04-28-2007, 10:53 AM
Sure, some work harder than others, but I think it's a myth that the vast majority of these players are out looking at video or spending extra time in the cage when they're not required to do so. The vast majority are either playing video games or chasing girls.



Chili, as usual, I agree with pretty much all of your points. I can't speak any more to the hardship of playing video games. But let's not minimize the effort and dedication it takes to chase girls.

:cool:

cincinnati chili
04-28-2007, 04:22 PM
Chili, as usual, I agree with pretty much all of your points. I can't speak any more to the hardship of playing video games. But let's not minimize the effort and dedication it takes to chase girls.

:cool:


Bwahahahaha.

Let's not minimize the toll that failure takes on the chasers either.

OesterPoster
04-29-2007, 10:52 AM
Another article...

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2007/04/29/SPG2OPHC9E1.DTL

smith288
04-29-2007, 11:07 AM
Thats a very good read. We hear about his rise out of the ashes of drug abuse, and rightly so, but this is fantastic. It really gives a better picture of this young man.
Young man?

You are a whole 4 yrs older. :lol:

Chip R
05-04-2007, 05:30 PM
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=Ao9iigkHNXrkRCdY7R1FXPERvLYF?slug=gettin gtoknowredsofjoshh&prov=tsn&type=lgns


Getting to know Reds OF Josh Hamilton
By Stan McNeal - SportingNews

Josh Hamilton is the feel-good story of the season for overcoming drug and alcohol addiction and finally reaching the majors at age 25. He began the season as a reserve, but the Reds haven't been able to keep him out of the lineup since he hit five homers in his first 28 at-bats. He leads the club in homers and began the week batting .288.

He could have been a pitcher. His fastball was clocked in the upper 90s when he was at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, N.C. After the Devil Rays made him the first pick in the 1999 draft, they asked him what position he preferred. "I figured if I didn't make it as a hitter, it would be easier to go to pitching rather than going from pitching to hitting if I didn't make it that way," Hamilton says.

He considered suicide. Hamilton was out of baseball from 2003-05 because of his addiction, which he says was so bad there were times he contemplated taking his own life. His low point -- and turning point, it turns out -- was in October 2005, when he showed up at his grandmother's doorstep 40 pounds underweight and looking for help.

He loves his grandma's cooking. Hamilton was separated from his wife, Katie, when his grandmother Mary Holt took him in for three months. "Every day, she reinforced the positive things. She'd see a game on TV and say, 'If those guys can do it, you can do it.' As she was fixing me breakfast, lunch and dinner, she was preaching to me," Hamilton says.

His G.M. didn't know that his manager had known him way back when. The Reds acquired Hamilton last December from the Cubs, who had picked him in the Rule 5 draft. Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky learned that manager Jerry Narron had spent time with Hamilton during his high school days. Narron's brother Johnny coached Hamilton on a summer league team. The Reds hired Johnny to be part of Hamilton's support system.

He knows temptations remain. When the Reds travel, Hamilton makes a point of avoiding minibars, and his room is always near Johnny Narron's. Narron is Hamilton's "go-to guy" when he needs to talk. Hamilton says he feels totally comfortable with "everything. Sobriety, spirituality and work. Not work, baseball," and isn't worried about his future. "I know there's going to be challenges and people are going to ask me to drink," he says. "I've already thought about what I can say to them. Before, I could not look that far ahead."

He really has been given a bonus. "Considering everything I put in my body, there's no reason I should be here today, I thank the Lord every day."