Josh Hamilton

I planned to follow up my post “God Dooms The Fags,” with how we can go wrong in our personal relationships with those we know to be gay.

Rangers primary logo

But a timely event causes me to put that off a few weeks.

Josh Hamilton, who played for the Texas Rangers, now plays for the L.A. Angels and yesterday he played his first game in the Angels uniform against the Rangers.

(0-4 hits with 2 strikeouts – yea!)

He is player is widely known as a Christian, as he professes his faith openly, ala Tim Tebow.

As an aside, here is a great url of prominent Christian athletes:

http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/2008/09/Top-12-Evangelical-Christians-in-Sports-Today.aspx

Josh was one of the most stellar and prominent athletes Dallas has seen in it’s storied past. He was the American League Most Valuable Player in 2010. No one will ever forget his magical performance in the home run derby at Yankee Stadium in 2008, or his four home run performance against Baltimore last May.

Josh has gone through a number of moral issues in the past, mainly a drug and alcohol addiction that severely hampered his early career. He was suspended by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003 for drug and alcohol use and missed the 2003, 2004, and 2005 seasons.

To his (and the many that supported him through those times) credit, he made changes in his life and for years, as far as it appeared, straightened out his life by giving up the drugs and alcohol and welcoming a close relationship with those who could help hold him accountable.

After those changes, he was welcomed to the professional ranks and became one of the top athletes in the league. An example of redemption, and outspoken example of how God can transform any past, he was known for his involvement in local ministries and international charities.

He was a stellar athlete who was a major factor on a great, winning team; the best in fact the city had ever seen. But although his numbers were amazing, there were at times some inconsistent, and even eccentric displays.

The problems that had plagued his past rose up again, and in several incidents, he relapsed, causing embarrassment for his team, and those around him

The most notorious event happened in 2009 when, he drank to excess in a bar in Tempe, Ariz. He apologized for that a few months later when a dozen or so pictures were posted online showing Hamilton taking shots off the bar, and hugging and dancing shirtless with several young women. He said then that he had been sober since October 2005.

He responded to those public displays with references to his relationship with Christ:

“My life in general is based on making the right choices, everything as far as my recovery, as far as my baseball goes, it’s all based around my relationship with the Lord,” Hamilton said. “And I look at it like that, you all know how hard I play on the field and I give it everything I absolutely have. When I don’t do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment.”

Late in the 2012 season, his performance suffered. It was widely perceived that he was not giving his best efforts and that he had given up on the team. His suffering performance might not have had anything to do with the relapses, but there it was all the same.

After became a free agent after the 2012 season and sought a lucrative contract ext

ension, he was let go and went to the LA Angels, not so much for his behavior, but due to the normal, ongoing process in which teams sign and trade .

Now, the reason I bring his story up is not as much to judge his actions, sincerity, and place with God, but to share the reaction that echoed many fans of the team he left.

Here are some of the public comments made about Josh Hamilton:

“Three years ago, a bunch of pictures on Deadspin surfaced about America’s Newest Baseball Sweetheart, redemption boy Josh Hamilton, drunk in some chintzy bar, licking whipped cream off of women.”

“Ohhhh, no.  What followed was as nauseating and sickening of a shifting of blame thatI have ever seen.”

“ Josh wasn’t blaming anyone else, no.  He wasn’t taking the blame, either.  It was the Demons, and his Demons took hold of him, and he was powerless!”

I was listening to a radio host go on about his leaving the Rangers, which was a significant topic, for it would have a big impact on the team. The conversation soon left the arena of sports, and became personal, not only commenting on his faith, but religious hypocrisy at large, especially with those who are outspoken about their faith. As I listened, his broad brush really made me sit back.

“I am suspicious of those who claim to hide behind God, he said. “A lot of them talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.”

More on Josh next time

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