Monday, June 2, 2008

The difference a few years makes

This day in baseball history:

1999 - In the first-year player's draft, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected North Carolina State University prep star Josh Hamilton as their top pick. It was the first time since 1993, when Alex Rodriguez was selected, that a high school player has been chosen first.
What Josh Hamilton has gone thru is nothing short of staggering. From "best prospect ever" to coke addiction to leading the AL in nearly everything. Ponder this from Albert Chen's cover story on Hamilton from this past week's issue of

When did he hit rock bottom? Hamilton thinks about this for a moment. So many low points to choose from. No, it wasn't the time the check he made out to a crack dealer bounced and he had to ask his father-in-law to go and give the dealer $2,000 cash. No, it wasn't the time after a party when he ripped the rearview mirror off a friend's truck, punched out the windshield and was thrown in jail. No, rock bottom, he says, was the night in the late summer of 2005 when he awoke from a crack binge in a trailer with a half-dozen strangers around him; with nowhere else to go, he appeared like a ghost at his grandmother's door -- his sunken face as white as snow, his 6' 4" frame shrunk from 230 pounds to 180. "He'd be at the lowest of lows," says [father-in-law] Chadwick, "and he'd sink lower."
So where is Hamilton now? Let these numbers roll around your brain for a few moments (AL ONLY):

  • RBI: 63 (next highest in the AL: 48)
  • AVG: .328 (3rd place, behind .330, .329)
  • HR: 15 (leads AL)
  • Runs: 40 (4th place; 47 leads)
  • Total Bases: 144 (2nd place has a mere 111!)
So not only is he well in the hunt for the Triple Crown, but he's blowing away the field in total bases and is close to Hack Wilson's RBI pace.

Not too bad for a recovering addict who was out of organized baseball for two full years. Let the following be posted in every lockerroom, in every school, stadium, fieldhouse:
"When I first got into drinking and using drugs," he says, "it was because of where I was hanging out, it was who I was hanging out with. You might not do it at first, but eventually, if you keep hanging around long enough, you're going to start doing what they're doing."

UPDATE: Just found this here (thanks to John Heyman's excellent "Daily Scoop"; check the "Around the Majors" section) and I am not sure what to make of it. At first, I was taken aback and insulted that he'd switch his agent, one who presumably stuck with him and helped him to get this far, right as he's about to hit the lottery for himself (and his agent!). The other side of me understands, no matter how much I dislike the rationale. (emphasis mine, as usual)
Josh Hamilton's negotiations for a long-term deal may be held up a little by his decision to switch agents during negotiations that appeared to be progressing. Hamilton, a born-again Christian after returning from bouts with his drug addiction, explained to friends that he wanted to be with a Christian stable, so he switched agents from Matt Sosnick to Michael Moye as he seemed to be closing in on a long contract.
Now, I already read Jerry Crasnick's "License To Deal" (no, I do not make a penny for linking to Amazon, but it was a great read!), which was all about Matt Sosnick's attempts to develop a practice at the feet of the bigger, more ruthless agents like Scott Boras. So yes, I not only identified with Sosnick's "rooting for the little guy" approach but also due to his religion. To see him slighted because of his religion troubles me, particularly how I can imagine Sosnick working his tail off for Hamilton during the last few troubling years. Just ask Dontrelle Willis how hard Sosnick has worked for him throughout his career...

Your thoughts? Is it a shady/unfair move to dump your longtime agent as you're about to sign a big, long-term contract solely due to his religion? (I hope Sosnick got a partial share of the commission!)

Am I a hypocrite?

UPDATE 6/19/08: I spoke with Matt Sosnick today and he clarified an error that I passed along. Hamilton has only been his client since he joined the Reds, not before when he was a member of the (then Devil) Rays. This was part of a larger interview which will be published shortly. It does not change the tenor of my argument that it was a bogus excuse for dumping your client who had been working well for you. My apologies for passing along the error.

UPDATE 6/22/08: I just posted my full interview with Matt Sosnick. Click here to read.


Ron Rollins said...

Nope, it makes Hamilton a hypocrite. Which is what relgion is all about, after all.

Religious people can do things like this all the time, and claim its about thier religon. But the rest of actually have to take responsibitlity for those actions.

steve said...

No, but its his choice to be with who he is comfortable. Money isnt everything...maybe he wants the best advice...for pocketbook and health.

Anonymous said...

He did not have anything to do with North Carolina State. He was drafted out of high school.

Jason said...

Anon, I wondered about that too, since Baseball-Reference also noted in the same paragraph that it was the first time a HS'er was drafed first since ARod. Maybe he had been planning on attending NCSU. Anyone have any insight?

Anonymous said...

I think it also may have to do with his focus on surrounding himself with what he views as the best possible influences - considering where he's been. Looking at that quote, it looks like he focuses on peer group quite a bit. At this point, I'd save judgement for someone who is beyond the scope of just trying to stay on the straight and narrow.

Christopher said...

He's not a hypocrite for that. First of all it's Christianity, not religion. There's a difference. Secondly,the bible states not to be "Yoked with unbelievers". That's Scott. What he did was actually the opposite of hypocrisy. He was actually being obedient to God's word. For him to dump his agent is not sinful! I missed the verse "Thou shalt not dump thou agent in the shadow of a long term MLB contract." What is that the 20th commandment?

Jason said...

Please Chris. It's not about dumping his agent. It's about being fair and good and decent to someone who has been nothing but the same to you.

I could care less that he wanted to change agents or the reason why. I just thought it sucked that he did it right as the agent was negotiating a big contract on his behalf, with his (Hamilton's) permission.

I don't root against Hamilton, mind you. He's a great success story; I just didn't like the rationale or timing for his actions.

Christopher said...

Well Jason, I wasn't so much addressing you as Rollins..... But you have to consider that his agent is doing business under his name. If Hamilton didn't like the way he was doing business he has every right to fire him. Personally I don't know enough about the situation, and I doubt anyone else does either. Just Hamilton. So therefore lets not label people as "Hypocrites".

Anonymous said...

rollins, you have a sorrowful attitude. Religious people, Christian people, are not about being hypocrites. We are about leaving this life better than we came. We are human, too, and therefore make mistakes in spite of our best intentions. Religious people aren't perfect, churches aren't perfect, but God is perfect, and we're all just trying to be like him.

Hamilton can choose whichever agent he pleases for whatever reasons he pleases. So can you if you procure an MLB contract. It appears he wants to go with the one he sees eye to eye with. Is that wrong?