Josh Hamilton’s huge night puts focus back on his abilities


Josh Hamilton watches his third-inning blast leave Camden Yards. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Kerry Wood gave away another game for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, so I’ll try to write about something positive instead. Josh Hamilton‘s prodigious offensive display seems like as good a topic as any.

I saw Hamilton play, for probably the first time, last Saturday night in Cleveland. As I was waiting in line at the ticket window, one of my companions wanted to know something about the Indians’ opponent that night. I pointed out that the Rangers were in the World Series last year, and then I started to tell the sad, recent tale of Josh Hamilton.

The short story on Hamilton, which all of us probably know already, involves the ball he threw into the stands last July. The death of Shannon Stone wasn’t Josh Hamilton’s fault, and yet it happened as the direct result of something he did. Hamilton must have replayed that moment in his mind over and over, wishing it somehow turns out differently than it did. It can’t, of course, and that’s a tragedy Hamilton will have to carry with him as long as he lives.

As I was telling the story, my companion grew horrified at what she was hearing. Hamilton’s well-known battles with drugs and alcohol, and his relapse earlier this year, were also brought up. The stories ended when we got to the ticket window, and began discussing what seats we wanted. And we wound up sitting two rows from the field, so it couldn’t have gone much better.

The ironic thing was my description of Hamilton had nothing to do with his baseball abilities, which were on full display in Baltimore Tuesday evening. And his performance reminds us all — in case we’ve ever forgotten — that he’s one of the best players in the game today.

If I ever have another chance to describe the Rangers to someone who doesn’t know anything about them, I hope I’ll lead with Hamilton and his record-setting performance. That would be a significant improvement over my description from the other night.

Congratulations to Hamilton, who put his name in baseball’s record books with four home runs in a game. While last night’s heroics will never undo what he’s already gone through, it can give me something positive to talk about whenever his name comes up in the future.

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