Thursday, February 02, 2012

Josh Hamilton, The Dali Lama, Media and Addiction

Brief summary on the news of today: Josh Hamilton was seen drinking. How much? No one seems to be saying. No one has even said he drank to excess. However, according to Gerry Fraley of Dallas News, Ian Kinsler showed up at the bar to try to get Hamilton to go home. But still, for all we know, Josh Hamilton had two beers, and cornered a couple of people to talk about how great his Fantasy Football team was this past year. "Gronkowski in the 6th Round! Can you believe he fell to me?" Crap like that. That's what I'd be doing if I found myself at Sherlock's Pub and Grill in Dallas on a Monday.

Who knows what Hamilton was doing? No one! (well--people know, but they are running silent at the moment)

Brief summary of why I may come off as a dick on this whole Josh Hamilton thing--his absolute lack of science and sense. Alcohol/drug abuse, and the inability to rein that it in? That's biochemical. Some people can do it, some people can't. It is genetic. Native Americans aren't particularly affected by alcohol because they believe in Wakan Taka instead of Jesus Christ--it was genetic (at least to start. Seeing one's entire culture destroyed can also lead to binge drinking, to be sure).

So yeah, people who expect a belief in Jesus to see them through what is, fundamentally, a brain chemistry problem annoy me. Especially when they blame their backslides, as Hamilton has, on 'the devil' or 'a crisis of faith'. Hey man, not every Buddhist and atheist is a raging drug addict. The Dali Lama doesn't believe in your Jesus, and he's yet to be photographed sucking on skanky bar chicks in bars.

But that's actually not my main point. There's a very simple article of addiction. You are sober for as long as you are sober, and no longer. Every recovering addict in the world understands that concept. Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but there's this LA Times blog entry that has bothered me ever since I read it, some ten minutes ago.

That blog entry reads just fine, unless you jam a couple of sentences together. And it is these two sentences: "Hamilton, a four-time All-Star and the American League most valuable player in 2010, has been sober since October of 2005...The only other time Hamilton broke his sobriety was in 2009 when he said he questioned his Christian faith and it led to a night of drinking at a bar in Tempe, Ariz." [emphasis mine]

So, LA Times, and everybody else who is framing it this way--Josh Hamilton has not been sober since 2005. He's been sober since 2009. "Crisis of Faith" is not a reason, it's an excuse. It is a piss-poor excuse, at that.

And you know what? Let's be more specific than that--the last time Josh Hamilton PUBLICLY broke his sobriety was 2009. Let's not presume he's been sober the entire time, because we really don't know, do we? We know that he went to a bar in 2009, and we know he went to a bar this past Monday. We know that those were the two times that he broke his sobriety in a very public way. Is there any reason to assume that the hundreds of days in between were filled with baseball, puzzles, and pettin' kitties? We don't know. We have Hamilton's word, and the fact he passed drug tests (which, let's face it, are hardly a be-all, end-all determination of sobriety).

Now, I'm not suggesting that the media should assume Hamilton has maybe been battling (or embracing) his demons behind closed doors. But maybe, let's not assume that the two times he's been caught boozing are the only two times it has happened. Addicts are a pain in the ass that way.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, for example, is almost suspiciously sympathetic:  "And as he is so good at doing, Hamilton will placate the sadness that permeates his fan base today through words of encouragement and strength and hosannas to how through God’s help and his family’s love he’ll persevere and win this lifelong battle. That’s all addicts can offer. There will be those who call them hypocritical or weak-minded or full of excuses. Such ignorance never ceases. Sobriety for those who struggle the most is merely a moment between relapses – hopefully a moment longer than the last, one that eventually lasts forever."

And again--horsepucky. That's not all addicts can offer. They can offer an educated understanding of what is happening to them when they drink or drug up. They don't have to rely on strength and hosannas or (motherfucker, please) God's help.

I welcome this kind of sympathy for all of the drug addicts in the country who aren't millionaires. But let's be clear--a man who blames his tattoos, his drug problem, and his public relapses on some ancient battle between The Devil and Jesus IS being weak-minded and making excuses.

There are addicts far more worthy of our support than Josh Hamilton. And a lot of them are in jail right now.  How about you write moving apologia for those guys, Sports Media? Hey, Jeff Passan, want to write a moving column about Minnesota Indians in jail? OF COURSE YOU DON'T.

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