Josh Hamilton: Fantastic Story, but Stealing Thunder?

Anthony CasaleCorrespondent IJune 3, 2008

Major League Baseball, as always, has records that are being broken or people that are threatening to do something that hasn’t been done in a while.

The last AL Triple Crown winner was Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox in 1967.

The 600 home run club consists of only five players: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Sammy Sosa.

Those two accomplishments are absolutely astonishing to say the least.  Josh Hamilton is leading in all three categories that involve the Triple Crown.  For the select few that do not know what the Triple Crown involves in baseball, it consists of home runs, RBI (runs batted in), and batting average. 

Hamilton is the first one since Carl Yastrzemski to lead all three of those categories this late in the season.  Hamilton’s stats are a .331 average, 16 home runs, and 65 RBI. 

Ken Griffey, Jr. is one sole home run away from reaching the milestone of 600 home runs throughout his major league career.  As mentioned above, there are only a handful of players who have accomplished that same milestone.  All but two of those players are in the Hall of Fame and the other two are eligible for induction. 

Both players have a chance of doing something great for themselves and Major League Baseball but, is one of them stealing thunder from the other?

Most people who follow the MLB know about Josh Hamilton and his struggles off the field when he was drafted.  If you do not, I will fill you in from what I have read and heard.

Following the offseason of 2000 season Hamilton, along with his mother, was injured in a car accident.  They returned to North Carolina while Hamilton remained in Florida where he played in only 27 games in the 2001 season due to injury.

Hamilton then played 56 games in 2002 and was quite successful, but back and shoulder injuries held him back.  While in Florida, Hamilton became addicted to drugs and disappeared from spring training in 2003. 

He came back to spring training with tattoos and a different attitude.  The then Devil Rays manager, Lou Piniella, sent him home get his life in check. 

He remained away from the team due to “off-field problems,” and was checked into drug rehabilitation in 2003.  He was in and out eight times before then, stopping the use of drugs in 2005. Then he was drafted by the Cubs in the rule five draft.  He was traded a few times and now stands where he is today.

Ken Griffey, Jr.’s story is not so dramatic.  This kid did everything right entering the league.  He was drafted because of his immense potential.  He worked hard, and played the game just as hard as he worked.  Griffey, Jr. was riddled with injuries later in his career after being named player of the decade in the 90s.

Though Griffey’s injuries have stopped him from possibly surpassing one of the most controversial sports figures in recent time, Barry Bonds, that is not the story of this season. 

It is Josh Hamilton and his pursuit of the first Triple Crown in 47 years.  That is a feat to say the least, but is he stealing thunder from Ken Griffey, Jr.?

Josh Hamilton is tearing the cover off the ball and is doing it consistently, but can he do it for 162 games?  With hitters like Manny, A-Rod, Mauer with his ability to hit for average, and the emergence of Carlos Quentin, do you really see Hamilton continuing this amazing feat?

As a sports fanatic, and especially a baseball fanatic, I would enjoy seeing this guy accomplish it, but does Ken Griffey, Jr. deserve a little more attention? 

I think so.

Even his teammate Adam Dunn is upset by the lack of attention Griffey is getting with his accomplishment nearing.  Even with all of his injuries that took countless at-bats away from him, he has still managed to hit 600 home runs with no steroid controversy or substance abuse. 

Yet, A-Rod being injured, Hamilton’s current stats, and the Rays' surprise season are all getting more attention.  I'm not implying that they don't deserve any attention, but folks, this is an accomplishment very few men are going to reach.  We are witnessing a piece of history.

I am happy to see that Hamilton has turned his life around and discovered a true love in baseball.  His attitude, from what I have heard, is like a little kid who just loves playing the game.  This rightly deserves some looking at, but to talk about it more than Griffey nearing 600? 

I don’t think so. 

His life has been interesting and is a great sports story, but is it going to keep up?  The fact is, Griffey has kept up and is one shy of 600.  I think the story should focus a bit more on Griffey than Hamilton at the moment.  It’s just not happening.