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Josh Hamilton Has No One to Blame but Himself

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In each person’s life their outcome is determined by what decisions they make. Decisions can be simple, such as what to eat or what color shirt to wear. They can be more difficult like where to go to school, or which career path to pick. They can also be downright life altering as in the decision to start taking drugs or to commit a crime. Although they come in all shapes and sizes, decisions are everywhere and ultimately we are responsible for deciding our fate. The Rangers Josh Hamilton knows all about dangerous decisions. Hamilton, a baseball phenom, turned drug addict, turned feel good story of redemption knows more than anyone about the importance of making decisions and their consequences. That knowledge is what makes his decision to throw his coach under the bus for the play that ended in Hamilton’s arm being broken downright absurd.

If you didn’t happen to see the play, Hamilton was on 3rd base in the first inning of yesterday’s game against the Tigers. Fellow Ranger Adrian Beltre hit a pop-up into foul territory and Tigers catcher Victor Martinez strayed away from covering the plate. When the 3rd base coach saw Martinez, he said something to Hamilton about tagging and trying to steal a run. Hamilton allegedly replied back: “Dude, I don’t want to do this. Something’s going to happen.” Hamilton went anyway and was tagged out as dove headfirst in attempting to score. He popped up, but knew something wasn’t right. It turned out that he has a small fracture in the humerus of his right arm.

Hamilton, visably upset, continued to pile on the third base coach; first by calling the play “dumb” and “stupid,” then following up with “I definitely shouldn’t have done it.” Given some time to think about the play, he added to his statements in saying: “I threw him under the bus by telling the truth about what happened. What do you want me to do, lie?” No Josh, no one wants you to lie, but the old saying goes, excuses are like… well you know… everyone’s got one and most of them stink.

First of all, from strictly a baseball sense he is wrong.  When you are on third base and you can see the ball, you are responsible for making the decision on what to do. At that point, the third base coach’s job isn’t to tell you what to do; it’s to make sure you aware of the situation and mentally prepared for what could happen. More often than not, they will say something to the extent of: “If you think you can make it, give it a shot.” Assuming that Rangers third base coach Dave Anderson was more forceful and said: “When he catches it, I want you to go.” It’s still not his call and he most certainly would never have said… “and when you do go, dive headfirst.” Diving headfirst into any base is dangerous, but at home plate it’s downright insane.

That said, understanding that Hamilton plays baseball like he lived his life for so many years, with reckless abandon for his body, means that Anderson isn’t completely without blame. He was the last line of defense in protecting Hamilton from himself. Anderson certainly couldn’t have known that the 2010 MVP was going to dive headfirst in the first inning of lazy afternoon game in April, but maybe he should have. Hamilton’s is a perfect baseball machine. He’s the Anti-Achilles; both heroes, but while Achilles was invulnerable aside from his heel, it seems that Hamilton’s heel is the only part of him not susceptible to injury… at least not yet. He’s averaged only 117 games per season throughout his career and it’s doubtful that he will approach that number this year.

There is little doubt that Hamilton is a strong man. Anyone that takes on addiction and is able to overcome its deathly grasp has to be. However for whatever reason he refuses to come to grips with the fact that his only shortcoming is his inability to stay on the field. Today he remarked: “I can understand that if I was pulling things like hamstrings or quads and it was not actual high-intensity things like hitting walls. I’m making plays that the game calls me to make and I’m getting injured that way. That proves to me that I can get hurt any time doing anything.” On one hand, he’s correct; you can get hurt any time doing anything. On the other hand, it’s your choice in life as to what situations your put yourself in. His logic is flawed though. The game didn’t call him to dive headfirst into home plate. Look at it this way, there is a 100% certainty that you won’t plummet to your death in a plane crash if you never board a plane. You’ll never get gored by a bull if you stay away from them. Hamilton hasn’t grasped that there’s a fine line between aggressive and reckless, and for such a strong man, his comments are undeniably weak.

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