Josh Hamilton Makes The Home Run Derby His Own National Holiday

o iAnalyst IJuly 15, 2008

It's very rare that a story can go from breaking news to overdone in the space of just a few hours, especially when most normal people are spending those hours sleeping. But the Internet needs no rest, and that's why I'm probably the 138495th person with the words "Josh" and "Hamilton" in his headline.

Everyone knows Hamilton's story—his odyssey from No. 1 pick to heroin addict and back to feel-good story of the year. ESPN is so obsessed with the story they probably put a GPS on him to track his every movement. If he played in New York or Boston, the Bristol headquarters would surely implode.

But for once, I can't really disagree with the media frenzy surrounding Hamilton. He is a true American story, one that represents not the ideals (patriotism, capitalism, rags to riches), but the everyday realities of the country.

His is not a perfect story by any stretch of the imagination. If he was able to live life over again, I'm sure Hamilton would jump at the chance. It's these flaws, though, that endear him to fans throughout the nation.

It's a made-for-the-movies life full of wasted talent, personal conflict, and eventual redemption. He is part renegade, with the tattoos and shady background, and part All-American good guy, receptive to the media and willing to showcase his every move to the curious public.

Last night, All-Star Weekend became a Josh Hamilton national holiday, as he pounded home runs into the far reaches of Yankee stadium, the ball exploding off the bat as he followed through on perhaps the sweetest swing I've seen this side of Ken Griffey Jr. It was an awesome display that made the Home Run Derby, as a whole, watchable (in spite of Chris Berman and the SEVEN other broadcasters).

You have to wonder what Hamilton could've been if he never ran into trouble shortly after being drafted by the Rays. It's a question that surely lingers in the back of the young outfielder's mind, his tattoos a constant reminder of wasted years. Josh Hamilton made mistakes, did reprehensible things, of which he should not be miraculously absolved.

However, that dark time has passed and if Hamilton, the user himself, can move on, maybe it's time for us to join him. After last night, he should no longer be Josh Hamilton: the former drug addict. He is Josh Hamilton: natural athlete, baseball player, and just another man who just wants to enjoy the moment.