JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Josh Hamilton

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A week or two ago I received an e-mail from A.J. Daulerio, the editor of Deadspin and someone I’ve come to consider a friend (despite this post). He had received some damning information on Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers center fielder/recovering addict, and was debating how to play it. There were supposedly photos, A.J. said, of a drunk Hamilton doing, well, really bad things. Really, really bad.

I’ve written a lot about Hamilton over the years (see this and this and this and this), and I guess A.J. thought I could possibly have some valuable insight. I told him that, if Hamilton insisted on presenting himself as a recovering addict, and if he talked and talked and talked about it, well, Deadspin had the right—maybe even the obligation—to use the information. The one thing I said (and this comes from being the son of a substance abuse counselor, I reckon) is that, when A.J. decided to run the goods, he’d have to use restraint. No goofy captions, no mocking, no jokes. He had to play it straight because, quite frankly, thousands of people in recovery surely look to Hamilton as a beacon. The battle to maintain sobriety ain’t funny, and it ain’t easy. There’s no such thing as a recovered addict. You’re always in recovery.

Always.

Anyhow, this evening I turned on my computer and saw the Deadspin posting on Hamilton. My first reaction: How incredibly sad. For Hamilton. For his wife and kids. Just … sad. My second reaction: A.J. handled it perfectly. The pictures are jarring, and speak of the devil that is addiction. But, again, he had to run them. He had to. No questions about it.

So while I am personally devastated (no exaggeration), I give Deadspin big props. It’s a huge story, and it was handled properly.

Now let’s just hope Josh can continue his battle.