The start of spring training is supposed to be a joyous time. It's supposed to be a time when hope springs eternal and we all look toward the endless possibilities for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, it's not any of those things for me this year. That is the fault of one man - Josh Hamilton.
For the record, I'm not mad at Hamilton for falling off the wagon. Although I have no personal experience with addiction, I understand that relapses happen. What I'm mad at him for is talking so much.
He held a press conference after the incident. I may not agree with this, but I can understand it. He wanted to show that he wasn't going to go into hiding. He wanted to show that he was going to be a man and admit that he made a mistake. In that press conference, Josh also mentioned pictures that may be released later. It made sense for him to get ahead of the curve on that.
Fast forward to his arrival in Surprise, AZ for spring training. The first thing he did wasn't dazzle crowds with batting practice homers or shag fly balls, it was more talking. He talked about how he didn't owe the Rangers any kind of discount. He talked about how they knew what they were getting into when they acquired him in 2008. He talked about how he'd love a contract, but that it was "out of his hands".
This was met with negativity from fans and media alike, so Josh did some more talking. He talked about how he would give the Rangers the first crack at signing him, and how he meant no disrespect by his comments the previous day.
All this rambling, pot stirring, and drama isn't new. Think back to last season when Josh broke his shoulder sliding head first into home in Detroit. In his first interview about the incident, he pretty much threw third base coach Dave Anderson under the bus for sending him.
Josh Hamilton has baseball talents that only come along once in a generation. He's incredible to watch in the field and with the bat. He continuously amazes me with the things he can do on the field. He has an awareness on the field, at the plate, and on the base paths that is second to none. Unfortunately, that awareness disappears when he has a microphone in front of him.
When Josh speaks, he seems to make things worse for himself. I don't think he's a bad guy with bad intent; he just doesn't have the gift of gab. He comes off as defensive, self conscious, and arrogant. His goal when speaking should be to ease fears, temper concerns, and instill confidence, but he usually ends up doing just the opposite.
It's with great admiration I say to Josh - shut up and play.