I don’t need to tell you that we need to talk about Josh Hamilton. You already know what he supposedly did. What you may not know is WHY we need to talk about Josh Hamilton.
It isn’t to discuss how the Angels should proceed with replacing him in light of a potential suspension. There will be a time and place for that, a time when his actual punishment, if any, and recovery plan are known. This is neither that time nor place.
It isn’t to discuss what a mistake the Angels made by signing him in the first place. Not only is that topic beyond tired, but it really has no bearing on this situation. What’s done is done and cannot be undone. No, his contract cannot be voided. The Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t allow it and, frankly, you are kind of a dick for even suggesting it.
No, we need to talk about the fact that we need to talk about this.
Honestly, yesterday was a pretty embarrassing day to be an Angels fan. Not because of what Hamilton did, but because how some of us reacted to what he did. For some reason a lot of us have gotten to a point where any news about Josh Hamilton needs to come with a trigger warning.
Before the nature of the offense was even announced, the internet reaction to Hamilton was vociferous. With all the saga surrounding Josh’s ongoing shoulder issues and some of the other nonsense drama he’s been involved in during his Angels career, a lot of us expected the worst. I even joked that if we found out he had been killing hobos for sport that none of us would be surprised, simply because just about everything that could go wrong with Hamilton had gone wrong. That was a flippant remark and I regret it now. Sadly, I was not the only one to make such remarks. Even more sadly, I think I am one of the few that regrets being so callous initially.
Of course, the reaction didn’t get a whole lot better once the details started to emerge. There was an outpouring of support and empathy for Josh Hamilton and his battle with addiction. I’d like to think that this was the reaction of the majority, but there was so much different reaction that I can’t be sure, which is what upsets me.
I’m not going to bother with posting insensitive Facebook comments or tasteless tweets. They exist, you’ve probably seen them. You might have even posted some of them. They range from being unsympathetic to Hamilton and worrying more about whether or not the Angels save any money from this to jokesters who just want to show how clever they are by making an “I’m in love with the CoCo” reference to vicious personal attacks on Hamilton.
Too many Angels fans (and fans of other teams too, but to a lesser degree) could give two shits about what Hamilton is going through. They think he is just some “Pig Millionaire” here to steal Arte Moreno’s money. They think “this addiction stuff is very sad and all, but fuck you crackhead, get off my team anyway.” They could care less about a human life because they are more concerned about the outcome of some sporting events.
Why can’t we as a collective fanbase be better than that?
That’s not to say that you can’t be mad at a player on the Angels. If a guy strikes out in a big moment, boo him if you want. If a guy doesn’t hustle on a play, let him have it. If a guy beats his wife, by all means call for him to be kicked off the team.
But this? Trashing someone who has been a shining example of recovering from addiction to lead a highly successful and fruitful life all because he had a relapse is just pathetic. Even if you don’t buy into the “addiction is a disease” mantra, there simply isn’t any reason to be so heartless towards someone going through a personal struggle that he’s fought so hard against for so many years.
I’m not asking anyone to shed a tear for Josh. No one needs to pray for him if they don’t want to. Nobody is demanding a public expressions of support.
All I ask is that we as a fanbase be better. Is that so much to ask for?