His Homerun numbers are up, but so are his strikeouts…to an almost alarming extent for a player about to cash in like Hamilton is poised to do. The book on Hamilton and his aggressiveness has slowly gotten out, and unlike the Rangers, the Orioles just don’t have the types of bats to put around him to make opponents have to throw him strikes. And then of course, is the biggest issue of all. Hamilton has already pissed away a promising baseball career once; and while he appears to have been resistant to the temptations of drug addiction for an extended period of time, the dependencies he developed during his wayward years are there for life. Recent run-ins with alcohol have shown that Hamilton has at the very least a scary propensity for “dancing on the ledge” and tempting fate and his demons.
Hamilton is also a guy who blamed a prolonged slump this season on his battle with addiction to chewing tobacco, a substance that he’s been back and forth with a number of times during his career. He also found himself hospitalized this year due to his overuse of caffeine. How much caffeine exactly does one have to use before it lands him in the hospital? And while refreshing to some, Hamilton’s religion (presumably what has helped him to tame the demons in his life) has been over the top to say the least. I’m not one to ever question the religious beliefs of another, but any man suggesting with absolute conviction that God is talking to him in the dugout (about homeruns no less) has to be seen as just a little bit wacky. If God decided, after watching Hamilton make mistake after mistake in his personal and professional life, to have a chat with him about that 4th homerun at Oriole Park, then shame on God.
All of this, in my humble opinion, suggests that whatever Josh Hamilton has been “into” during his life, he’s been way into. His is an addictive and self-indulgent personality. It’s fair to say that baseball has and will continue to take a backseat to whatever those other interests are; and if God tells Josh Hamilton to build a church or to take an overseas mission instead of focusing on his career once his last big contract is secured, Hamilton will certainly do just that. That has to be a scary proposition for the Orioles or anyone considering a long-term commitment to Hamilton.
Hamilton’s recovery has been a great story and an inspiration to many; it’s important not to understate that part of his legacy. I’d be a special kind of jaded to wish him anything but continued success for the rest of his career and the rest of his life. Betting on him doing that however is another matter altogether, and as far as I’m concerned a leap of faith best left to those with the financial means to absorb a mistake of that magnitude. The Orioles have never been that team.
If indeed the Orioles do have some money to throw around I’d suggest that they spread it around and hedge their risk, or save it for next year and Robinson Cano. When it comes to Josh Hamilton I’d just say no.