-Obligatory disclaimer that I wish Josh Hamilton all the best and that his recovery is the most important thing. Pretend it’s an entire paragraph if you like.-

This is not the place to debate whether drug and alcohol addiction is a disease akin to cancer, or a result of a weak moral constitution. Because the truth is, when it comes to Josh Hamilton, it doesn’t matter. Both possibilities are damning to the point where it is time for the Rangers to seriously consider cuttting ties with their most popular player.

It seems that there are many fans out there that are once again willing to forgive and embrace. For them, Hamilton is the tragic hero, constantly at war with his inner demons that threaten always to ruin him once and for all. Many will point to his religious zeal as proof that he really is a “good person” (whatever that means) whose mistakes are unfairly amplified because of his place in the spotlight. But there is another growing faction of people out here in Ranger nation that is simply tired of all the drama. There are those of us “skeptics” who tend to see Hamilton’s Christianity as nothing more than an attempt to replace one addiction with another. Most importantly, there are probably more than a few fans, players, and front office people who have grown weary of the constant distractions. The fact that this team has proven to be incredibly resilient in the past doesn’t mean that it should have to be all of the time. But on the eve of what is arguably the most important season in Texas Ranger history, on the eve of what is unquestionably the most important season of Hamilton’s professional career, he once again found his way to a bar, then called a teammate to come–what? Save him? Help him? Dote on him? Who knows any more.

We know he drank. We know he makes bad decisions when he drinks. The rumors indicate that this particular story could get much, much worse for Hamilton before it is all over. Two months after losing his babysitter accountability partner, he can be found drinking and allegedly having sex in a public restroom. Considering the timing of this incident, one thing has become perfectly clear; you cannot trust Josh Hamilton. Maybe he can’t stop. Maybe he can’t control himself. Maybe he chooses not to. But whether he can’t or he won’t, one thing has become abundantly clear: he isn’t. If his marriage, his family, his career, and reputation are all at the mercy of alcohol, then his story truly is tragic. If he too short-sighted, too weak-willed, too immature to deal with life’s difficult issues head on and instead chooses to resort to drunken oblivion, then his story is pathetic. It may matter in the way you judge him as a person, but it is completely irrelevant from a baseball standpoint.

There is simply no way the Rangers can commit to Hamilton long term any more. Think about it; is it really that difficult to imagine a scenario where this latest alleged incident costs him his marriage (after all, even the Bible allows for divorce in the case of infidelity) and his family? If that happens, does anyone really trust him to handle it responsibly? The possibilities are terrifying.

Hamilton has said more than once that he is trying to take responsibility for his actions. But that would include acknowledging that one of the reasons he cannot be counted on to play 150 games a season is because of the incredible trauma he’s put his body through by injecting and ingesting untold amounts of poison. Maybe someone will overlook his fragility and break the bank for him if he makes it to free agency in 2012. But he shouldn’t be asking the Rangers to do it. Not after the faith they’ve shown in him despite what he continues to put them through.

Maybe Josh Hamilton is the victim of a terrible disease. Maybe it’s his own fault. Either way, that ancient dating rule applies; you can date crazy, you can have a little fun with crazy, but you don’t marry crazy. Signing Hamilton to anything other than a 2-3 year deal would be marrying crazy, and it’s something this Rangers organization cannot afford to do. It doesn’t matter why he can’t stop. It only matters that he can’t.

 

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