The Josh Hamilton story is one of the more complicated ones to come through the local sports-wires in recent years.
On one hand, as SB Nation's Bomani Jones notes, while a battle with addiction is an intensely personal one, Hamilton has chosen to make his story public:
Without knowing those things, this feels like none of our business. But it's news, and that's the flip side of Hamilton taking his plight public. It allowed him to inspire millions, but also directed their eyes to his attempts to maintain. People who follow his quest for sobriety want to know when he stumbles, for reasons good and bad. Hamilton is an addict, a very public one, and sharing his successes made his failures fit for public consumption.
At Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan is concerned that Hamilton relapsed at a very public place -- an undisclosed area DFW bar -- where he had to have known he would be recognized:
That it prevailed in such open fashion is what should scare Hamilton’s family as well as the Rangers. Only Hamilton understands why he would choose such a setting to drink, whether it was the empowerment of doing what he wants, where he wants, when he wants, or if it was his way of asking for help as he floats about without an accountability partner. After his spectacular fall off the wagon in January 2009 that included pictures of him licking whipped cream off a woman’s fake breasts, Hamilton knew the second alcohol touched his lips he was vulnerable not only to its seductive ways but to the gossipy culture that is making secrets an anachronism.
Of course, what makes his relapse so compelling is how it relates to his impending free agency. Hamilton has spoken for years about how he can't handle even one drink, and how a relapse would negatively affect his game.
The Dallas Morning News Kevin Sherrington thinks this latest incident is proof the Rangers need to be extremely careful with how much money they give the former MVP:
At some point, he’s going to have to learn how to avoid risks when left alone. The Rangers went so far as to celebrate their postseason wins with showers of ginger ale to avoid the mere whisper of temptation. Hamilton can’t walk in bars and have a few drinks and think he can get away with it.
The Rangers have done all anyone could expect. They gave him another shot when the Reds gave up. They provided support and love and he gave them MVP-worthy performance. The mutual benefit has been a couple of World Series runs.
Still, the Rangers don’t owe Hamilton a long-term contract out of gratitude or sentiment. They shouldn’t offer anything more than two or three years, heavy on incentives. Of course, someone will offer more. If he should take it, so be it. Then the clock starts ticking somewhere else.
Over at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Randy Galloway is more direct, saying that Hamilton can no longer be trusted:
But my fairness offer is now off the board.
One year, $20 million is the new max. If another team wants to gamble beyond that, have at it. But not me.
Josh is an addict. A good guy. Easy to like, and I do like him. But he's an addict.
Hamilton proved again this week he cannot be trusted, even if the Rangers would clearly love to trust him, support him, and sign him long-term as a player.
But at the end of the day, this is still an intensely personal story, with ramifications that go far beyond what a player does or does not do on a baseball field, as this tweet from Josh Hamilton's wife illustrates:
Truly appreciate all the encouraging & supportive tweets we've been getting. God is Faithful and forgives- so thankful that you all are— Katie Hamilton (@KandJHamilton) February 3, 2012
The Rangers have scheduled a press conference for 1 PM Friday with Hamilton to further discuss the incident.