ARLINGTON, Texas More ugly is coming. That much is guaranteed with this latest Josh Hamilton slip-up.
The Rangers center fielder and recovering addict dropped enough hints Friday to suggest his very public fall from sobriety has more details to come, almost assuredly with visual aids.
Beers were consumed. Pics were taken. And I'm guessing by Hamilton's tone Friday, his wife is not going to be happy.
His fidelity does not concern me in the least, and his fall from sobriety actually is pretty tame compared with alternatives like a crack pipe jammed in his mouth or an after-party at the morgue. If this sounds melodramatic, let me assure you that almost every drug overdose starts with an addict who told himself "just this one last time." This is why Hamilton knows drinking is dangerous for him.
"Any time I drink, there's a point that comes where a switch flips and you never know when that point's going to be reached whether's it's the first three or four, or the 15th," Hamilton said, as he talked to media Friday about what he admits were multiple drinks at a Dallas bar earlier in the week.
He had no written notes and spoke from his heart, a perfect balance of contrition and transparency, honesty and sadness. There was also a very subtle moment in there, when he leaned back in his chair and sighed, as if to suggest "I cannot believe I am here again. I thought I had this beat."
Addiction is the mother of all *******, a daily battle between what a person desperately craves and what he already knows. What Hamilton already knows is that what he craves is stronger than him, has tried to kill him and never relents, actually patiently waiting for his moment of weakness.
"When I take that one day off, it leaves me open for that moment of weakness and it's always been that way," Hamilton admitted. "So for everybody who I have hurt, for everybody fans, kids, people who have addictions and look up to me I apologize to you. When you're doing this, you don't mean to hurt anybody. You only think you're hurting yourself. But as I know, you're hurting a lot of people."
The thing with addicts is they never mean to hurt anybody and that is why they rarely take only themselves down. Ask anybody who loves or cares about or depends upon an addict.
It is scary as hell to be at home praying to God that your phone does not ring at 1 a.m. with news of one line too many. This is true for the wife of an addict, as well as his general manager.
How much Rangers GM Jon Daniels cares about Hamilton was obvious from how he talked in a conference call Friday.
"This is not a baseball story," Daniels said. "This is something that is real. This is something Josh deals with, an addiction, an issue he has that is affecting him and people around him who care about him. He's a husband and a father foremost. That is where our head is at, to make sure the get the supports he needs."
He has the best of intentions. He wants to help. He and this Rangers baseball team have done everything to help. And the ugly truth is only Hamilton can help Hamilton another reminder coming courtesy of Ian Kinsler.
The Rangers second baseman was destroyed for aiding and abetting Hamilton in his night of drinking when, really, what he did was come to the restaurant when Hamilton needed somebody to talk to.
According to Hamilton, he never drank in front of Kinsler, hid any signs from him that he had been and promised not to drink when Kinsler exacted that vow before dropping him off.
Hamilton immediately found his way to another drink, an act for which a decent number of idiots blamed Kinsler.
And everybody who is blaming the bartender or the Rangers for not having an "accountability partner" in place quick enough after Johnny Narron left to be Milwaukee's hitting coach is wrong too.
Nobody is to responsible for the sobriety of an addict but the addict.
I actually think this accountability partner is hurting Hamilton, just like love and trust of family and friends actually ends being up what hurts so many addicts.
Hamilton can not have somebody with him 247 and almost assuredly will not when his baseball career is done. It is not realistic. It is not life.
He gets the closest thing possible now because he is getting paid 12 million this year to play baseball. And the accountability partner is taking away the accountability.
The Rangers would be wise to say "Josh, we love you but we cannot be responsible for your sobriety. You have to and, if you can do that, we'd be happy to have you back."
What Hamilton needs is to do what so many addicts have to do, which is to figure out how to win this battle every day when nobody is stopping you from making a mistake but yourself. This would be the best thing the Rangers could do for him: Stop protecting their investment and help him save himself.
I have rolled over my delete key for a couple of minutes now on the previous sentence, fearing it is too harsh or judgmental. Anybody who has ever met Hamilton is pulling for him, and I include myself in that.
I am pulling for his sobriety. And I agree with Daniels that this is not simply a baseball story.
A lot of words have been, and will continue to be, spent on how many millions Hamilton cost himself by this screwup. He is trying to get a big-money, long-term deal from the Rangers and now the argument is: How do you give 100 million to a guy you can not trust?
This is ridiculous. They never trusted him, thus the accountability partner. They were betting the reward was worth the risk. The next contract if it comes will include such actuarial decisions.
That is the baseball story. The Hamilton story is different.
No amount of money will motivate him to stay clean, nor will the threat of lack of money. We cannot wrap our brains around this because we are not addicts. We are not in love with something that is actively trying to kill us. We do not understand.
Hamilton does. And that is why the best thing the Rangers can do is stop being responsible for his sobriety so he can be.