Over at Grantland, here’s Bryan Curtis on Josh Hamilton:
By now, you and I could recite the outlines of The Story: Hamilton, baseball’s no. 1 overall draft pick in 1999, falls under the sway of crack and cocaine; abandons his wife and daughters; gets clean; gets acquainted with God; and in a semi-damaged, heavily tattooed state, leads Texas to the franchise’s first two World Series appearances.
While Texas fans still love Hamilton’s “story of redemption,” ESPN’s Jean-Jacques Taylor noted the other day, Hamilton “has abused that goodwill.” Not by having a bad season: Hamilton hit 43 homers, just one fewer than Miguel Cabrera, and posted a .930 OPS. No, Hamilton abused it by hitting into a first-pitch double-play ball against the Orioles and looking at just eight pitches in four at-bats and, with a frequency that seemed to accelerate when the Rangers needed it least, behaving like a flake.
Before we dive into how Texas fell out of love with Josh Hamilton, I want to be clear that I’m not making fun of Hamilton’s religion. I’m not questioning the events of The Story. What I’m suggesting is that Hamilton has become a prisoner of it.
…It’s not defending Josh Hamilton to say that he became despised this year for many of the things that, in the confines of a redemption narrative, once made him beloved. The Story swallowed the man. Hamilton seems like a reasonably friendly, occasionally defensive guy who is teetering on the edge of sobriety, who is prone to inconvenient bouts of detachment, and who gets hurt a lot. When he goes to his next team, I hope a new story will start there. But I have a sinking feeling that every time he loses a fly ball, Hamilton will again be a prisoner of redemption, trapped in a tale too flawless for any man.