Before I begin to write about Josh Hamilton, allow me to offer my first official Jeffpearlman.com word to the wise: If you’re looking to purchase a bottled-soda-that-tastes-like-a-float beverage, DO NOT buy the new “A&W Float,” which takes likeâ€”for lack of a better thoughtâ€”my son’s poop floating in bathwater (See earlier post for reference). The brainiac marketers at A&W describe the drink as “A creamy blend of rich A&W and Ice Cream flavor.” (but without the actual ice cream)
I describe it as liquid shit.
Whew, got that off my chest. Soâ€”Josh Hamilton. A few weeks ago I was in Houston, doing some Clemens research at Minute Maid, when I overheard a TV boob look into the camera and bellow, “Josh Hamilton might be the best comeback story of the season.”
Even halfway through the season, with Hamilton among a group of three or four AL MVP front-runners, I am amazed by how lamely Hamilton’s story has been covered by the mainstream media. This isn’t a comeback, a la Michael Jordan or Sugar Ray Leonard. This isn’t even a traditional druggie-comes-clean-after-60-days-in-Betty Ford comeback, a la Dwight Gooden or Steve Howe.
No, this is the absolutely, positively greatest comeback the sporting world will ever see. And I’m not exaggerating. Josh Hamilton was a coke addict-turned-crackhead who missed nearly four full seasons of professional baseball to do drugs. Ask a guy who misses, oh, one full season how hard it is to come back. Now miss fourâ€”and add the physical deterioration that comes with massive crack hits; plus take into account that Hamilton never played higher than Double A in his entire career.
It is, simply, unprecedented, and I am personally thrilled to see Hamilton back. In 1999, when he was just an obscure high school player in Raleigh, N.C., Sports Illustrated sent me down to write a profile. The kid I met was polite, humble, a tad awkward. He kissed his grandma before every game; took the team’s mentally impaired batboy under his wing; etc … etc. As nice a high schooler as one would ever meet.
So, please, when you tell people about Josh Hamilton, be effusive in praise. This guy deserves it.