jrpearlman

If you don’t love Josh Hamilton already …

… read this.

There are jerks in major league baseball, there are good guys in major league baseball—and there’s Josh Hamilton. The best of the best.

Many people probably look at his drug history and think, “What a waste.”

I don’t. I look at his drug history; look at where it’s led him, and think, “What a friggin’ blessing.” We often cliche ourselves into saying, “It’s the experiences in our lives that make us who we are … blah, blah, blah,” but it’s really true. The car accidents, the physical problems, the failed class, the arrest, the drug problems—overcoming obstacles; surviving the seemingly unsurvivable—that’s what makes us who we are. I love sunny days as much as the next guy. But when I think about the experiences that have contributed to my essence (for good or bad), they’re usually negative. Getting my ass kicked by John Degl (who, for the record, I’m quite certain is a great guy now) in ninth grade. Failing to get into my dream college. Seeing my dead grandmother on her bed. Nearly getting fired by The Tennessean for being an arrogant, mistake-prone moron. Getting dumped by my girlfriend. The struggles of different friends and relatives—the cancer scare of my college roommate; my good pal’s father dying young. All those things—those jarringly painful things—fortify our innards and allow us to survive.

And so, I believe, it is with Josh Hamilton. Had he never had the drug problems, there’s a good chance he’s another arrogant, clueless professional athlete, rich and praised, but relatively soulless. Me? I’ll take the Joshua Holt Hamilton I know and respect.

The one with the scars.

* UPDATE (Four hours after the initial post on Hamilton): I’m sitting in a New York City cafe, writing, watching the Home Run Contest on a nearby TV. I’ve never cared about the contest—it’s a gimmick, and I’ve long found Chris Berman’s nonstop Back! Back! Back! Back! bellowing mind-numbingly annoying. But watching Hamilton’s performance, after what he’s been through, well, it’s something I’ll never forget. I still remember 1999, when Dan Jennings, then with the Devil Rays, told me Hamilton had the most talent he’d seen since Alex Rodriguez—if not more. Tonight, America saw it.

I am offended (of being offended)

So, with precious too little going on to keep us busy, the controversy of the day is the new New Yorker cover, which features Barack Obama in Middle Eastern garb and his wife sporting a major ‘fro and a gun.

The Obama camp has denounced the cover, as has—oddly—John McCain.

My take: Lighten the hell up.

It’s called good ol’ fashioned New York satire, and just because the people in Topeka and Ada don’t get it doesn’t make it offensive or, for that matter, unfunny. Clearly, the cover is a spoof, and a damn funny one.

Please, America, let’s talk about the All-Star Game. Or my son pooping in the bathtub. Or … anything.

Computer?

Was reading the other day how John McCain recently admitted he doesn’t use a computer.

This strikes me as more than a tad odd. How does one live in 2008 and not use a computer? Imagine, for example, if you were the head of a company and you were interviewing someone to be your COO or vice president of marketing or, flippin’ hell, a receptionist. If that person said, “Well, I’ve never used a computer,” would you even consider making the hire?

I’m being serious. To me, this is waaaaaaay beyond a trivial issue. In the modern world, the businessman/politician/actor/dog walker/nose picker/baseball player/8-year-old without computer skills does not exist. Literally, you can’t live in the United States without being able to use a computer. You just can’t. It is how business is conducted. Yeah, the fax machine was a wonderful device. And I’m all for Texas Instruments calculators. And surely McCain has an abacus stashed somewhere.

So to think that Jordan, my 7-year-old nephew, is better equipped to use a computer than the potential next president is quite disconcerting.

Memo to John McCain: The Learning Annex offers computer lessons most Thursdays. Sign up—NOW!

Speaking of Josh Hamilton …

 

josh-beckettWhenever I think of Josh Hamilton, I think of Josh Beckett. The guys went one-two in the 1999 amateur draft, and for the longest time it looked like Beckett would be known as this brilliant pick, Hamilton this bust.

Anyhow, my story: After the Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, Beckett—who had been somewhat underwhelming until that season—was hot shit. You know, getting a ton of endorsement deals, dating Leeann Tweeden, bombarded by fans, etc. Well, according to several people I know and trust, Beckett tried getting into the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl party in early 2004 but was told his entourage was too big and couldn’t all enter. Beckett huffed and puffed and cursed—and walked away. He swore he would never speak to Sports Illustrated again.

Fast forward to spring training 2004, and SI wants to run a Beckett profile. I’d actually written a good deal on Josh throughout the years, so I volunteered. Upon approaching him at Marlins camp, Beckett was his usual ornery self (and I’ve long liked the guy). “Fuck Sports Illustrated,” he said. “I’ll talk to you, because you’ve been good to me before. But that whole scene was bullshit.”

Josh said what he needed to say, then we sat down and had a very solid, professional 45-minute interview. Toward the end of our conversation, I spotted Rick Reilly, SI’s star columnist at the time, standing by the clubhouse TV. When I was done with Josh I asked Rick if he needed some help. “Yeah, he said. “I wanna talk to Beckett.”

“OK,” I said. “Lemme try introducing you.”

I re-approached Josh, said, “Hey, this is Rick Reilly from Sports Illustrated. He’s a good guy and …” For some reason, I stopped midway through and said, “Rick, you weren’t at the SI Super Bowl party, were you?”

A huge smile crossed Rick’s face. “Was I?” he said. “Hell, it was the greatest friggin’ party I’ve ever been to. You shoulda seen the women. And the food. Man, it was …”

Beckett, meanwhile, stood to the side, smoke oozing from his ears.

A very funny moment.

 

Josh Hamilton and A&W Floats

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 like—for lack of a better thought—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. So—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.”

Might be?

Might be?

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 four—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.

RIP—Bobby Murcer

Was saddened by the news of Bobby Murcer‘s passing earlier today from cancer. In America, most people either:

A. Remember Murcer as the excellent Yankee outfielder and announcer.

B. Have never hard of him.

I, however, had a very unique experience with the man; one I’ll never forget.

On June 4, 2000 I was sent by Sports Illustrated to cover the Yankees-Braves series in Atlanta. This would be my first exposure to the Braves since the whole John Rocker mess, and I was—to be 100% honest—awfully nervous.

Well, as was widely reported, Rocker lit into my beneath the stadium in a hallway, threatening to kick my ass and repeatedly jabbing his finger into my chest. By the time the tirade ceased, I was truly shaken. This was my first MLB confrontation of any magnitude, and I was ill prepared.

Out of nowhere, I heard someone say from behind, “Hey, are you OK?” And there he was—Bobby Murcer. Maybe it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. But as everyone else sort of backed away from my suddenly toxic radius, Murcer immediately checked to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack. It was the first time we’d ever met—and years later I had the chance to tell him how much his actions had meant to me.

“Oh,” he said. “That was nothing.”

Maybe. But to me, it was something.

Something I’ll never forget.

I will never use this page …

… to whore products (save for, ahem, my books). But I hired a painter to do a portrait of my wife and daughter, and he produced what I thought was absolutely amazing work. (the photo I gave him was cruddy and actually taken through a screen window) His name is Greg Kuppinger, and we met him in Buffalo. Is just a low-key guy trying to make it in a tough biz, and I really, really want him to succeed. Hence, here is his website. A real gem of a guy/artist.

The grossest thing ever

My son happily watches Elmo as I morn cleanliness.

About 20 minutes ago I was taking a bath with my son, Emmett. He’s 20-months old, extremely cute (hey, I’m allowed to brag) and a lover of all things “wah-wah.” (water). We were having a great time. He’d dump water on my head, I’d dump water on his. I soaped him up, he giggled and giggled and giggled. Excellent father-son Kodak moments.

Well, while gathering some water in a cup I noticed a brownish tint to the agua. Then I looked to the left and—egad!—a tremendous log of my son’s crap was floating my way.

Instincts took over. “Oh nooooo!” I shouted, before picking up my content (and blissfully boweled) boy and rushing him into the shower. He never seemed to notice we were swimming with his fresh feces. As I write this, in fact, he’s happily watching some pre-bedtime Elmo. I, on the other hand, am repulsed.

Ah, fatherhood.

* Writer’s note: In light of the Mariners releasing Richie Sexson, I was going to use this space to write about the time Richie, as a young Indian slugger, shook my hand after dramatically jingling his balls. Luckily for Sexson, he was out-grossed by the floating log.

Congratulations, Jim. You seem to know why Room 242 smelled like butt!

After careful consideration, the wife and I have picked a winner from the first JEFFPEARLMAN.COM contest. To refresh your memory, I offered a signed book (woo hoo!) to the person who could best tell me why Room 242 of the Boston Ramada smelled like butt. The winner (drumroll, please) …

… is Jim, who wrote:

They don’t wash the bedspreads and only change the sheets. Everything else stays put as thousands of elbows and assholes move through the room like organic bran through a public colon. Who opens the windows in a motel room? sure, when you are on vacation in Hawaii you open the window. but here, in America (Hawaii isn’t America!?), you leave the windows closed when you go to a motel. At least once a child was in your room. children are like bees – they do the needful mundane tasks that we could never automate. bees pollinate the flowers, children puke in impossible to reach places.

Once, while in India, a rat ran between my legs as i was going into my bathroom. it ran across the room and went under the drapes, never to be seen (by me) again. maybe it died of fright right there, began decaying in its own feces.

Jeff…the answer to your question is obvious. it is life immobile…stale, decrepit existence…the essence of the tail end of robust diversity. you are living in the world of the fungus.

Or it could be something else. what the hell do I know?

Jim, congrats. Drop me an e-mail @ anngold22@gmail.com with your address, and I’ll hook you up.

Thanks to the eight people who voted.

My favorite song.

An admittedly lame post, but I’d like to share with any readers here my favorite song.

Click here.

Not sure that’s the greatest version. But I absolutely, positively believe Shannon Hoon was one of the truly great young songwriters of my generation. His band sorta flickered after “No Rain,” then he died of a cocaine overdose in 1995. Man, though, the guy had something going on.

Anyhow, here’s an official list of my top five favorite tuns (top of my head, admittedly).

1. Blind Melon, Change.

2. A Tribe Called Quest, Check The Rhyme.

3. Dr. Dre and Snoop, Deep Cover.

4. Dixie Chicks, Cowboy Take Me Away.

5. Hall & Oates, Rich Girl

No laughing, please …