Texas Rangers

Should Josh Hamilton Have Celebrated With His Rangers' Teammates?

I appreciate Josh Hamilton. Admire him. Think he should be this year's American League MVP.

Really I do.

But I would feel even better about him had he participated in last Saturday's locker-room celebration in Oakland with his alcohol-drenched Rangers' teammates.

It's great news that yesterday Josh - who hasn't played since fracturing three ribs on September 4 - ran full speed and took 25 swings off a tee without pain. Without him, the Rangers have zero shot in the playoffs and their fun, fruitful season will end in only an AL West banner.

I understand his decision not to participate in the clinching celebration, but it makes me uneasy. While the Rangers donned goggles and sprayed champagne and beer in the visitors' clubhouse in Oakland, Hamilton slipped into the trainer's room, took a shower and went out to speak to a religious group. Some players went looking for him to dump him with water bottles, but he was gone.

Not saying Josh - perhaps the most notable and successful recovering addict in all of sports - should take a celebratory swig.

But ...

Rather than simply avoiding temptation, wouldn't it be better if Josh could face his former(?) demons and say "No, thanks"?

I've never been addicted to anything, so maybe I don't understand. Maybe he'll never be able to say "No".

But it's easy not to cheat on your wife if you're never, ever presented an opportunity. That doesn't make your monogomy loyal and noble. Doesn't make you strong. In the face of temptation, a truly grounded person can just politely decline. Right?

I saw on HBO's Real Sports the other night that Hamilton still gets driven to and from the ballpark and isn't allowed to carry cash. Really? This is a guy - who must be monitored that closely - whom the Rangers are centering their franchise on and are considering giving a long-term, $100+-million contract?

We teach our kids not to touch the stove burner. Then they touch it anyway, and get burned. But they learn. They grow. And at some point you can leave a burner on without the fear of them touching it again.

But in Josh's case do the Rangers - do his teammates - always have to turn the burner off? And should we praise Hamilton for eternally avoiding the kitchen?


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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt