Originally posted on Legend of Cecilio Guante  |  Last updated 2/4/12

As I stood (ironically, in a bar) last evening, I watched the familiar scroll across the bottom of the ESPN screen. Scores. News. Milestones. And then, of course, the details of Josh Hamilton’s night out in Dallas where he had “three or four” drinks. The bottom line graphic lit up across the plasma screen and included quotes from Hamilton, his wife, details of what he did and didn’t do, who was there and when and where. The appearance of these words, recounting this “event,” was simultaneously ridiculous, and entirely unsurprising. Combine those two sentiments together, and it was also entirely deflating.

It was dispiriting for two reasons. First, and of the most real importance, is that Hamilton stumbled in what is his surely constant battle with addiction. His fight against demons that have reared their heads in destructive ways in the past. It’s not the first time it’s happened. It probably won’t be the last. It’s disappointing because Hamilton’s story has been — and will continue to be — a phenomenal tale of left for dead wasted talent to you’ll-never-believe All-Star.

The other side of the depressing coin was the very fact that Hamilton’s “moment of weakness” was scrolling across the bottom of the ESPN telecast as if it was everyone’s business in America to know. Why does the press and the public need to know that Josh Hamilton had a few drinks and stumbled in his daily battle against drug and alcohol addiction? I would argue we don’t. Hamilton broke no laws. He violated no league rules. For those reasons, his whereabouts and actions on a weekday evening in Dallas seem to run afoul in many ways.

So, can we leave Josh Hamilton alone? Of course we can’t. In our modern media world, nothing is off-limits. My taxi cab home illustrated the degree to which it’s sunk as I was informed that “Miranda Lambert’s Dog Dies.” Major national outlets rushed to document the tragedy (yes, I know she actually tweeted it). Such an environment ensured that Hamilton’s relapse was destined for front-page news.

We can’t leave Josh Hamilton alone. We can’t because his comeback story was and remains too powerful. We can’t because his profile is too elevated. We can’t because Hamilton’s saga was inspiring to too many. We can’t because, in fact, Hamilton’s misstep hurt infinitely more people than himself and his family. It is also a gold mine of connected stories.

It generates questions about his future as a Texas Ranger and what direction his Major League career is heading. It presents questions about his stability. Unsaid in all of this, is something obvious. We crave stories of spectacular failure often as much as those of tremendous triumph. Hamilton’s story is beginning to live somewhere in the murky waters in-between. And that’s what makes it incredibly compelling to watch.

We can’t leave Josh Hamilton alone. The one saving grace is that those extra eyes and attention on Hamilton could be one of the things that he needs to stay afloat.

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