1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

S.L. Price on Josh Hamilton

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'm curious about what everyone thought of Price's SI cover piece on Josh Hamilton this week.

    Obviously Price is one of our best writers working, and certainly it's a highly readable, well-written piece. Having read Hamilton's autobiography, though, there wasn't a ton of new information in there. And I'm sure that goes for a lot of readers. Hamilton, whether in his book or just speaking candidly with reporters, has not left a lot of information unreported. His life is truly an open book. That seems to create somewhat of a paradox when taking him on as a subject - his life and career are absolutely fascinating. But because so much is already out there, there isn't much that can be done at this point.

    I would have liked to have seen Gary Smith write this one, just to see how different the approaches would have been. I think Price does a good job getting at Hamilton's psychology in spots - for example, his desire to please people, and his preference in the past for putting on a show over being a solid overall baseball player. Would have liked to have read a little more about some of the qualms teammates have had with his special treatment - I know that was an issue in Cincinnati, in particular. I think that Smith would have probably gone deeper on the pop psychology stuff, even if we could have probably debated the validity of his insights.

    Price also seems to just swallow whole a lot of the Hamiltons' boilerplate about their faith, which I suspect is because it's tough to get a lot more than that out of them. I don't doubt their sincerity. This is how born-agains talk. But it can make for repetitive reading sometimes. For example, it's great that Hamilton's faith helped him get past Shannon Stone's death seemingly so easily. But it also seems somewhat callous, at least to me. That occurrence would change some people's lives. For Hamilton, it seems like a minor bump in the road - although he certainly is to be commended for maintaining a relationship with the family. And though he writes about the relapses, it seems like decency stopped Price from giving more than cursory mention to the Deadspin report - seemingly true - that Hamilton was having sex with another woman in the bathroom of a bar this past offseason.

    Anyway, I think the story is behind a paywall on the site, so hopefully some of you have read the piece - or can at least comment on the challenge in general of taking on a subject like Hamilton who has been written about extensively already.

    Re-reading this post, it seems like I'm being critical of Price. I don't mean to be. I think he's amazing. But when a top writer takes on this subject, I think that it's a great jumping-off point for a craft discussion.
  2. 1HPGrad

    1HPGrad Member

    Difficult task. Underwhelming story. But you could say that about almost every story after Sheinin's 2007 masterpiece.
    I would have been more interested in a pure baseball story devoted to how he worked to become a better pro. I thought the exchange with his coach after the misjudged liner was the most interesting aspect in the story ... probably because I had heard the rest.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Good points. I think that when someone writes about Hamilton, like you said, it's a difficult task. I mean, how do you ignore or downplay the history? Perhaps it's possible that some audience members haven't heard it. I think Price did as best he could summarizing it, but he still had to get into it some, I imagine - especially after the alcohol relapse this past offseason (oddly enough, I'm more disturbed by his publicly cheating on his wife than I am about the drinking, especially after all his wife has done to stay by him).

    What is the Sheinin piece? ESPN: The Magazine?
  4. 1HPGrad

    1HPGrad Member

    Washington Post, 2007 spring training. It was the first look into the hell that was Hamilton's life.
  5. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    I thought the cover blurb was interesting, comparing him to Mickey Mantle with his "Triple Crown talent and headlong style."
    There's another comparison with Mantle that to me was left unsaid. Now THAT would be a story I couldn't wait to read. This one kind of led me wanting.
  6. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    See, I haven't had a chance to read the story yet, but that's what I was thinking -- Hamilton as Mantle, complete with the drinking and skirt-chasing.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    What is starting to irk me a little bit about Hamilton is that he has a convenient excuse for every slip-up he has: The "devil."

    Years of drug addiction? The devil.

    Relapse 1, with whipped cream? The devil.

    Relapse 2, with sex in a bathroom? Why, the devil, of course.

    Never Josh Hamilton.

    Now, I understand that addiction is a disease. And Josh Hamilton is an addict in every sense of the word. Supposedly, faith-based recovery programs have a high rate of success. But when the guy is banging some bar chick in a bathroom after a drinking binge in Dallas where everyone recognizes him, you have to start to wonder if he's leaving some underlying issues regarding his personality unaddressed by just letting religion do all the work for him.

    The Price piece had some about his undying need to please people, and I think that's probably at the root of a lot of what has led him down dark pathways. People start hooting and hollering at a bar for him to go crazy, and he has to perform. I'm just not absolutely certain Hamilton has made enough of an honest effort to deal with that, just going on what I've read - including from the man himself.

    He's an addict. But he's also a partier who probably needs to recognize that it's time to grow up. He's on the straight and narrow 99.9 percent of the time, and that's admirable. But I am starting to grow weary of, "The devil made me do it."
  8. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    It goes beyond just saying the "devil made me do it."
    It is a realization that he made the choice to give into his demons and temptation.
    It has been a couple of years since I read his book, but I don't recall him not taking responsibility for what he did. He fully understands what he did and how it happened. He's also dealt with his slip ups publicly when asked questions about them time and again. Now I will admit, that I haven't paid too close attention to his last slip up -- partly because of a lack of time, also because it's not a new story, heard it over and over again, not just about Josh, eyes start to glaze over -- but I do not recall too much criticism over the way he handled it. Maybe I'm wrong.
    I don't think he's sluffing off responsibility with "the devil made me do it." In fact the steps he and the team has taken to make sure he doesn't give in -- his chaperon, celebrating with non-alchoholic drinks for the AL pennant, etc -- show that. However it's going to be a battle for the rest of his life. I think what he can hope for is to win most of the time, because he won't always win and he won't always be under the nose of his watchdog. He's going to have those days of weakness where he loses. I think he understands that, and I think think he accepts it either.
    Without having met him, I think he does feel remorse for what he has put his family through and the people he has hurt. His demons clearly go beyond just drugs and booze, and unless any of us are in on a counseling session with him, I don't think we'll ever really understand the depths of how screwed up he really is.

    That would be the real story: How screwed up Josh Hamilton really is.
  9. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    It's a crutch and a throw away phrase if they're not taking responsibility for what they have done and refuse to take steps to prevent repeating the same mistake. doesn't mean they will always be successful in preventing the mistake, especially when it comes to addicts, but I don't think anyone can question Josh's attempt at being better. The success certainly, but no"the devil is making me do this," then certainly criticize away.
  10. armageddon

    armageddon Active Member

    It's time to grow up?

    I have a close family member who is more than twice Hamilton's age. This person has battled addiction to pills/booze for longer than I care to remember. Two decades and change easily.

    This person can go for months without straying from the right path but along comes too much stress or an incident that sparks bad memories from the past and -- poof! -- major relapse.

    There have been many setbacks over the years and they've been ugly.

    I get frustrated and angry as hell with each relapse but I also know, from dealing with health care professionals through the entire journey, that it isn't about not being all grown up.
  11. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that definitely came off more flip than I intended it to. Listen, I admire Josh Hamilton. I read his book. I root like hell for him, on and off the field. I am a huge defender of addiction as a disease - I was very outspoken, for example, on our Amy Winehouse thread.

    I guess the part that stuck with me in the Price piece was Price noting that Hamilton wasn't looking for booze that night as much as he was "looking for a party." When I talk about him needing to do some growing up, I think I mean more the desire, at age 31, to still be Big Man on Campus at times. Like Price wrote, he has this unhealthy desire to be liked. To be worshiped even, at times. I think - for whatever it's worth, I didn't even take a psychology CLASS in school, let alone have any background in it - that this aspect of his personality seems like something he needs to deal with along with the substance abuse.
  12. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    I'm not married and I don't have kids, but I'm not much younger than him, maybe a year or so. I was never big man on campus, but every once in a while I need to let loose. I need to party, I need to forget life. I also view myself as incredibly responsible. Mind you I'm also not a recovering addict. But I also don't think that part of it necessarily means he needs to grow up. Were his words "I was looking for a party?" He needs to be smarter is what he needs to be. Maybe he needs more friends that can surround him 24/7 and steer him clear of these types of situations. But I also can't imagine what it would be like to be in his shoes where the baseball world is watching his every move, waiting for him to screw up, to the point where he needs a chaperon around him 24/7. I have no idea what it would be like to be that tightly monitored and wound. Sometimes you do need a release. Unfortunately for him a release seems to mean a relapse.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page