Being great baseball players aren't all that Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera have in common. Both have had dark incidents in the past, but one's rehabilitation success has gotten more attention than the other's.
We all know the story of Josh Hamilton by now. The former overall No. 1 draft pick's life was falling apart as he was dependent on drugs and alcohol. He was out of the baseball limelight. Then his wife and grandmother convinced him to surrender to God. He had been, at least for a while, successfully rehabilitated.
"There are no coincidences when God’s got a plan. It’s nothing I did except try to make the right choices and let God take over from there. There’s one solid and permanent way out of it, and that’s finding the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting Him," said Josh Hamilton.
In 2008, Josh Hamilton dominated baseball. He led the league in RBI and put on a magnificent performance during the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium. The story of Josh Hamilton was told repeatedly throughout the year, and subsequent years.
Everything he does garners media attention.
He was on the front cover of Sports Illustrated with the caption, "The Unbelievable Josh Hamilton: His True Story." He was elected to the All-Star Game in 2009 despite only starting 38 games (while batting .243) in the first half of the season.
Let me make this clear: Obviously, Hamilton's story is amazing.
But is it so attention-worthy? Better yet, why is it more attention-worthy than Miguel Cabrera's rehabilitation success?
Flashback to the last week of 2009. The Detroit Tigers were on pace to win the AL Central. Their star player and real only offensive threat, Cabrera, was in a slump.
The Tigers were up three games in the division over the Twins with 10 games to go. Over the last 10 games of the season, Cabrera batted .237 and the Tigers were forced into a 163rd game with the Twins, which they lost.
Miguel Cabrera had a drinking problem, and he admitted it affected his performance on the field. It affected him at the worst possible time—during a close pennant race that was his team's to lose.
Now, Cabrera hasn't had a drink since Oct. 3, 2009. Alcohol rehabilitation has saved his life, and his performance on the field couldn't be better. Considering the circumstances in which his supporting cast is weak, Cabrera is having an amazing offensive season.
He, like Hamilton did in 2008, is leading the league in RBI (126). He is also second in home runs (38) and third in batting average (.328).
So why hasn't Cabrera's successful rehabilitation gotten the same amount of attention as Hamilton's? Cabrera had already established himself as one of the best players in the league before his problem was discovered and cured. That would seem to warrant more attention, not less.
It's not that one's performance was better than the other's. Cabrera has better numbers now than Hamilton in 2008.
So what's the difference?
It's the God factor.
Like it or not (I sure don't), religion permeates throughout sports. We see it with football prayer circles in almost every NFL game, and we see it in baseball as tons of players point up to the sky after a big play.
But Hamilton talked about it.
Sure, tons of players thank God in interviews, but Hamilton was pushed into the spotlight with his amazing abilities and that gave him a platform to tell his story about how he turned to God.
That massively contributes to his popularity and media attraction. Why else would "Josh Hamilton Doesn't Take Part in Champagne Celebration" be a newsworthy headline?
Hamilton's story is one that should be told, but Cabrera's story is equally good even though it's not getting the same attention as Hamilton's despite both players performing head-and-toes above the rest of the American League.
Life is about second chances, but why are we only getting one chance to hear a good story?