White Hat Sports Headlines

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hamilton's Derby

I can't say enough about what Josh Hamilton did last night in the Bronx at the Home Run Derby. I can't because everything that could be said about his past, and his present was said and re-said 100 times through out the night. All the while, nobody seemed to notice that Justin Morneau, (My pick) walked away with the hardware. The thing I said to my buddy Zach while we watched the trophy be presented to the Twin, was that in 5 years nobody will remember that Morneau won in New York, all that people will remember was the 28 home run show that Josh Hamilton put on in what will be known as one of the great comeback stories in baseball. But how great of a story is it? Why aren't I buying Hamilton's rookie cards on eBay right now, (I still might I'm not quite sure about this one.) Is it because I can't forget about how he seemed to throw away his god given talent right after nabbing a 4 million dollar signing bonus from the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Is it because the aforementioned 4 million dollars was thoughtlessly blown on crack cocaine over a 4 year spiral into movie of the week territory? Perhaps, but I think the best way to describe what I feel about Josh Hamilton right now can be summed up by "Double Down" Trent, from Swinger:

"You don't wanna be the guy in the pg movie that you like right away and really really hope that things work out for. You want to be the guy in the R movie that you're not quite sure that you like yet."

Hamilton is the second guy. We're not quite sure that we like him. Right now he seems like the all American boy, having his former American legion coach 71-year old Clay Council throw to him in Yankee Stadium. He is the rebound that people like to see, but fear for what might happen next. 5 Years ago we might have been talking about Josh Hamilton as sort of a drawn out version of Len Bias, but now he is a story of rebound and recovery and right now incredible talent.

Ironically enough I was talking to the bench coach of my legion team last week and we were talking about the Majors and Hamilton came up as one of the year's big surprises and what he said was very interesting to me. He said "You did everything right, I did everything right as a player and we were both very good. This kid had all of the talent in the world, abused it for almost 10 years and can one day just try to do it again and suddenly he's an MVP candidate and a threat to pull off the triple crown. Is that fair?"

And maybe he's right, maybe that's what is eating away at me. Maybe it's just jealously that a guy can abuse his talent for a decade and then one day wake up and drill a baseball 500 ft in front of 55,000 people and I can't. What I do know is, last night was the greatest performance I've ever seen in a Home Run Derby. Greater than McGuire, better than Sosa and more impressive than Giambi. There are a lot of clouds hanging around over Josh Hamilton's head right now, but this time however they are no longer storm clouds. Hamilton may have had a tough time with crack cocaine, but something that he hasn't been criticize for is taking steroids. And in this day and age a story about somebody not taking a short cut and making his career harder than it has to be, no matter how it was done should be admired. Whatever happens tonight in the All-Star game, the "one played in Yankee Stadium" will always belong to Josh Hamilton and the night he owned New York.

Written in the parking lot of the Herbert Grand Hotel, Kingfield, Maine.

Sterling Pingree

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