Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things I don't understand #51...

...The sports miracle that is Josh Hamilton.

It's baseball again. And you almost got this last week but, well...stuff happens...I was busy...and sick...and lazy. Anyway, you should probably just go read the cover story in SI this week, but I'll try to give you the Cliff's Notes version. Josh Hamilton is the new center fielder for the Texas Rangers. Acquired in an off-season trade with the Reds, he is now the story of Major League Baseball(thus the cover story).

Nine years ago, out of high-school, he was the top pick in the MLB draft. He was the ultimate 5-tool player (hit for average, hit for power, good glove, good arm, can run like the wind) in a 6"4', 225 lbs. frame. A pure athlete and a natural at the game. Oh, and since he was known to unleash a fastball upwards of 95 mph, he could have also been a pitcher if he wanted to. He was also considered the antithesis of a troubled kid. All was going well until a dump truck smashed the car he was in as his mom drove. The time off because of injury was the impetus for a downward spiral of epic proportions. Coke binges then became the new norm, and by the time he had cleaned up he had been out of baseball for a couple of years.

Josh found a renewed faith in God and an understanding that he's lucky to be alive. He also refuses to carry more than $20 in his wallet at any given time to ensure any temptation doesn't turn into something more. What's miraculous is that it's seems he's lost nothing in his return. After playing only about have the season last year, his numbers this year are staggering(considering he's also making the sometimes difficult transition to another league). His name is found in the same sentence as the phrase "Triple Crown" (leader in HR's, RBI, and Avg.). He's already had several highlight reel catches and he's been compared to Mickey Mantle (that never happens). Did I mention he's on the cover of Sports Illustrated(first Ranger in almost 10 years)? I also got to personally witness one of Hamilton's majestic blasts. It went out into the concourse of the second level(that doesn't happen either). And then after Tuesday's game I read this in the paper about Josh's eighth inning game clinching grand slam:
"I've been having trouble seeing here, and it's been kind of frustrating," said Hamilton, who broke a season-long RBI drought of four games with five RBIs. "I saw the ball leave his hand. It looked like a sinker. I closed my eyes and swung hard. When I opened them back up, it was heading towards the seats."

So apparently not only is he a stud athlete, but he's a Jedi. Not fair! Hitting home runs with your eyes closed should not be allowed. I'm just glad he plays for my team for once. Ah yes, the force is strong with this one.

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