Fresh off its Friday afternoon debut performance, the Josh Hamilton Redemption Tour made its second appearance on Friday night inside Katy's Merrell Center. And if Nolan Ryan and/or Jon Daniels were paying attention to anything said, then they should seriously be thinking about just how much money, if any, they want to invest in Hamilton once his contract expires after the upcoming season.
It needs to be said that Josh Hamilton probably didn't have to make his appearance on Friday night. He was booked for KSBJ's "Born To Be Wild: The Man Journey Featuring Josh Hamilton" way before his most recent adventures with alcohol last Monday. And while the event, featuring a bad comic and a Christian rock band, was billed around Hamilton discussing how God has helped him navigate the evils of drugs and alcohol, it would have been understandable if he were to have bailed on the event while getting a better grip on his own personal demons.
But after making an appearance before the Metroplex media on Friday afternoon -- an event he likened to the Rangers signing of Yu Darvish -- Hamilton, with special guest Lance Berkman, stepped out before an adoring crowd of boys and men and kind of spoke about his problems while touting God.
"Handling what I've had to handle today, fessing up, being a man about it, standing up," he said. "People will call me a hypocrite, but I'm just a sinful man. Left to my own strength, left to my own will, my own power, what I want to do when I take control back is, I make mistakes. And apart from Christ, on a daily basis, I make a lot of mistakes."
That's about all Hamilton was willing to say about falling off of the wagon last week, and the guy asking questions didn't seem to feel that it mattered. What seemed to matter to Hamilton, the questioner, Berkman, and the crowd, was that Hamilton believed in God and believed that God would show him the so-called way.
And here's the part that should trouble Ryan and Daniels and the rest of the Texas Rangers' front office and team. Hamilton just seems to accept that falling off of the wagon is going to happen whenever he's left to his own devices, but that it really doesn't matter because God will forgive him.
"It's just awesome to know that I'm going to screw up, but God's going to be right there besides me and pick me up and hold me and carry me through what we're going through," Hamilton said. "He's not going to leave your side. When you feel like you're separated from God, you have left him, he has not left you."
There's a lot to admire about the Josh Hamilton story. He's one of those naturally gifted ballplayers to whom the game of baseball comes effortlessly. He suffered a serious non-baseball-related injury, fell into drugs and alcohol while dealing with his rehab, and finally missed three years of play due to addiction and suspensions. He fought his way back to baseball and has become a major league star.
But for all of that, is he a man who should be admired? A man who should be met by an adoring throng of Christian boys and men and held up as a spiritual leader? Does anybody out there remember Steve Howe, a former Dodger relief pitcher who succumbed to addiction time and time and time and time again, and was met with MLB suspension time and time again while flaming out with the Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees, and other various teams?
Darryl Strawberry's addictions were used as a warning. He wasn't held up as a person to emulate. He was turned into an object of derision. The guy who had it all but wasted it all and let it all slip away.
And if Howe or Strawberry had made a statement about it all not really mattering because God would be there no matter what, would baseball fans have embraced them like they embrace Hamilton? Would they have celebrated the return to baseball of a guy who basically said he's going to fall off the wagon as soon as the season ends and there's nothing more for him to worry about?
The Josh Hamilton Redemption Tour made its scheduled stop in Katy on Friday night. Hamilton made a statement of remorse, then joked around with Berkman about the World Series and baseball while speaking of his spiritual journey. But ultimately, what seemed to be missing was the regret and feelings of true remorse.
Hamilton's an addict. And addicts relapse. But it seemed as if there should be something more. Instead of accepting that he's going to drink the next time there's nothing for him to do but that it's all going to be okay because of God, shouldn't he be struggling more. Shouldn't he be trying to not fall off that wagon again?
It's not just Josh Hamilton's life after all. It's also the life of his family. The life of all of those who were inside the Merrell Center worshipping him. And it's also the lives of his teammates, Jon Daniels, and Nolan Ryan.
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