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Shame on the Angels

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It looks like Angel outfielder Josh Hamilton is returning to the Rangers, the team he left after the 2012 season. A trade has been completed, and Texas gets back one of the greatest players in franchise history.

Which is a nice story. But, to me, not the story.

Nope, from this perspective, the headline doesn’t concern a homecoming, but the shameful and embarrassing way the Los Angeles Angels have treated Hamilton since learning this past offseason of a drug relapse he suffered. Unlike the Rangers, who dedicated a great deal of money and manpower to helping Hamilton remain clean, the Angels seemed to consider substance abuse merely an issue of mind over matter; of willpower. Which, of course, is nonsense. Addiction is a disease, just as cancer and ALS and diabetes are diseases. You can control addiction, you can function with addiction, but you’re never 100-percent cured of addiction. It’s there. Always.

When Hamilton came forward and admitted his relapse, the Angels showed the compassion of a rattlesnake. They were openly livid when, earlier this month, an arbitrator ruled Hamilton did not violate terms of his treatment program. They did not issue him a locker at their Spring Training complex, and—as reported by—”pulled all of his merchandise and likeness from the ballpark.” I actually attended an A’s-Angels game yesterday with my son, and you wouldn’t know Hamilton played for the team. He appeared … nowhere.

For me, the worst is Arte Moreno, the team’s owner. When asked earlier this month whether Hamilton would ever play for the Angels again, he shrugged. Asked why the uncertainty, he said, “Probably disappointment. I think that’s probably the biggest word here. We understand that he’s had struggles, and obviously he’s still having struggles, but the reality is there’s accountability. When you make an agreement, you need to stand up.”

To anyone who’s played a pro sport, this comes as no surprise. Teams speak of honor and loyalty and family, but only until honor and loyalty and family stop paying the bills.

Then, it’s adios.