The Thing About Josh Hamilton Is...

Tom MilesContributor IJuly 15, 2008

There's that smile.  The radiance of the converted, the certainty of a man who has come through.  Fox and ESPN are all over him because he's a story which writes itself.  An object lesson in the perfectibility of human nature. And the thing with the BP pitcher is terrifically cute. 

Josh Hamilton is Roy Hobbs, except that he shot himself, figuratively speaking.  But for now he's "having fun".  That's what you hear from him, and that's what you want to believe, that his wayward past is behind him, that he really believes that his astonishing gifts as a hitter are less important than family life.  That his struggle with addiction has added value, or at least significance to his life. 

He's playing for the Rangers now, where Alex Rodriguez won his first MVP, on a team that lost 91 games.  Hamilton has the chance to take his team into Wild Card contention.  After that, the post-season, as Joe Torre memorably observed, "is a crapshoot".  But as amazing a story as Hamilton's is (with Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, an apparently reformed Milton Bradley, the deferent knights around his table  enjoying storied years of their own) you almost don't want him to get there. 

Having been derailed by the weight of sudden expectation once there's a nagging suspicion that if he failed, in the ALCS, against the White Sox, say, then the fragile faith of every addict in their own redemption could be shattered.  Couldn't he have one of those remarkable/unremarkable careers, like Carlos Delgado, where a player is much-loved and respected without facing the white heat of post-season play?

It won't happen, of course.  As Hobbs fell victim to greed, so will Hamilton transcend his failings, keep the girl, rescue a nation from drug abuse, and hit 500 home runs.  He'll be Time's Man of the Year and eventually run for President.  That's how good a story Josh Hamilton is.

Unless.  Unless...