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Gammons on Hamilton

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 93Devil, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I posted this on the HR Derby thread, but I think it deserves its own place.

    From ESPN.com

    Hamilton an inspiration in so many ways

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    NEW YORK -- One of the best things about baseball is that someone else comes along and recreates being the hero. Out of the embers of the Black Sox scandal came Babe Ruth. As a nation regrouped between World War II and the Korean War, Jackie Robinson bravely changed the face of sports and American society.


    After the strike that canceled the 1994 World Series and led to the coldest winter, along came Cal Ripken, the dignity and might of the Joe Torre/Derek Jeter/Mariano Rivera Yankees, and then the summer of '98 with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And when that entire era went to black and the waste depository of the BALCO and aging clinics, Jose Canseco and gopher slimeballs reached the desk of George Mitchell and millions wondered if they could ever trust the sport again. There were 55,000 people at Yankee Stadium on Monday night -- most of whom knew less about Josh Hamilton than Darrell Rasner -- chanting Hamilton's name and rooting for a new hero.

    Every revelation about Roger Clemens' past and every "collusion" noise that comes out of some parrot's beak has emphasized the need to move forward. That is why no team has signed Barry Bonds, who can still impact any lineup -- owners and general managers understandably don't want to talk about the past. They want to try to move on into an era with drug testing, in whatever form the morphed sport takes.

    Two months ago, a general manager said we are watching the unfurling of two dramas we have never before seen in our lifetime, and may never see again. One is Rick Ankiel, who has played less than two years as a position player and is so good a center fielder and everyday player that he certainly could have been here for the All-Star Game, what with 20 homers, 50 RBIs, an .880 OPS and the defensive show he has put on in center field. To overcome his pitching nightmare of the 2000 playoffs, then after six years to become a hitter, and then overcome a blown-out knee … few players are better inspiration for the capacity to never back down or give up.

    By now, Hamilton's story of overcoming demons is two blocks from Hollywood. Oh, it's easy to give it a Nancy Reagan "he made a choice" and so on and so on and so on and so on, but the fact is that millions of people in this country get addicted to drugs and ruin their lives. Hamilton beat his demons and is a hero for millions trying to fight back. Steve Buckley wrote about one such person in this morning's Boston Herald, a pitcher from Peabody, Mass., named Jeff Allison, a one-time Marlins No. 1 draft pick whose life landed in the breakdown lane, out of baseball; he nearly died. A month ago, Allison made the Florida State League All-Star team, and while his comeback is a work in progress, he is pitching and living and succeeding, and when Buckley talked to him about Hamilton, Allison credited Hamilton with being his role model and inspiration.

    Long after Yankee Stadium had emptied Monday night, Hamilton sat in front of his locker, answering to everything past and present and future. Told about Allison's story, Hamilton said, "I have heard of him, I'd like to be in touch. I hope I meet him. I hope I hit against him one day."

    Our heroes can be flawed. The Babe certainly was. Hamilton never stops reminding us that he, too, is flawed and that he's not ashamed to admit it and never will stop fighting.

    Josh Hamilton turned the page in his life, and Monday night he helped baseball begin the long, dry healing process of turning the page on the Dark Ages.

    Baseball is not about corporate boxes and extracting licensing pennies from poor kids or taxpayer dollars donated to construct ballparks to help billionaires make millions. It is about Babe Ruth changing the sports culture, Jackie Robinson changing America and Cal Ripken changing lives. Baseball has always been able to turn the page because of someone and something always grew up out of the rubble, and Josh Hamilton began the process of turning the page on Monday night.

    It is unbelievable what he has done, and now the nation knows it. Hamilton matters and when we saw his friends like Milton Bradley, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young embrace the moment and the future, we saw the awe and the appreciation in their eyes.

    These are not the best of times in America, but we look at baseball and see Ankiel. We see what Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez have overcome to reach stardom. We see an Athletics pitcher named Brad Ziegler come back from two fractured skulls and take a run at the record for most shutout innings to begin a career. And then we watch 55,000 New Yorkers standing and chanting Josh Hamilton's name. We are reminded that baseball can help us remember what we stand for, not against, what we believe, not what we fear, and that while we learn from the past, what we all want is to open the door to the future.
     
  2. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Good story. I, for one, am happy that Gammons isn't hopping on the "Hey, this is Josh Hamilton! This is what he did!" bandwagon.

    But I do object to his comparison of Hamilton to Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. That will take time, though I don't know that Hamilton can fill that role. Those guys are legends. Hamilton? Not yet, perhaps not ever. At least Gammons is right that not all role models/inspirations are perfect.
     
  3. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I like the thought that Hamilton could be a generational role model because there are a ton of 20-somethings dealing with drug recovery issues right now.

    I know this is not the first generation with a drug problem, but there are so many new and easy ways to ruin your life for the teens and 20-somethings, that a player like Hamilton is easily embraceable for those battling addictions.
     
  4. Andy _ Kent

    Andy _ Kent Member

    Excellent piece by Gammons, which should not come as a surprise for a Hall-of-Famer.

    The only thing that struck me as missing in that story was at least a reference to the cloud of suspicion Ankiel had hovering over his head last year after the New York Daily News linked his name to HGH, reporting that he received eight shipments of it back in 2004. I just thought an acknowledgement of the controversy might have added a little more balance to the piece.
     
  5. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I thought the same thing, but I have a feeling Gammons has a better idea on the Ankiel stiuation than most of us.

    I'll just trust his judgement.
     
  6. Andy _ Kent

    Andy _ Kent Member

    Me too, and I have no doubt Gammons knows more about the Ankiel situation than most of us. However, being as you and I make two readers who wondered the same thing, I think at least a token mention of the fact was warranted, just to satisfy the question before it's ever asked.
     
  7. ondeadline

    ondeadline Active Member

    Excellent piece. But I wish he didn't use impact as a verb.
     
  8. Clever username

    Clever username Active Member

    Well, aren't you a vicious pussycat.
     
  9. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    Great story. It;s good to see Gammons writing with emotion and not pomp and excess.

    It has all the makings of a greek tragedy, including the eventual redemption.

    Why does America like this guy? Because we are imperfect, and a liitle bit of us still wants to believe everyone is redeemable.
     
  10. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    Nice piece by Gammons. The fact that Josh Hamilton isn't afraid to talk about his past, that he's willing to talk to kids about this and not have his hand out for appearance fees, that he was a good kid who just happened to throw 90-plus mph from the mound in high school and knock BP home runs 50 feet over a center-field fence for fun makes me happy for him.

    It was hard not to pull for the kid before. Now? Well ... I actually watched the Home Run Derby on Monday night and didn't slam baseball. That's something.
     
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    I now feel guilty for using, "Hamilton lays the smack down" as my HR Derby headline.

    (kidding, kidding)
     
  12. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    OK, that's funny.
     
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