Sportress of Blogitude

Angels concerned about Josh Hamilton’s ‘conduct, health and behavior’


Josh Hamilton received a favorable decision when it was announced that he would not be suspended for his recent relapse., as spelled out in a decision by an arbitrator jointly appointed by Major League Baseball and the players’ union. According to the ruling, Hamilton is free to rejoin the Los Angeles Angels at any time.

The fortuitous ruling, however, does not mean Hamilton’s future with the Angels is secure and that he is being welcomed back to the team with open arms. Angles general manager, Jerry Dipoto immediately issued a statement on behalf of the organization in which it is spelled out quite clearly that the team is unhappy with the slugger’s recent behavior.

Dipoto’s statement (via Hardball Talk):

The Angels have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family.

The statement is carefully worded, but the stern message behind it is clear: The team is quite upset with Hamilton and likely will not look kindly upon any future missteps from the outfielder.

Hamilton’s troubles — career-wise — don’t stop with Dipoto’s statement, either. Major League Baseball has issued a statement as well, in which the league says it disagrees with the arbitrator’s decision and “will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in which drugs of abuse are addressed under the program in the collective-bargaining process,” per an AP report. The league also takes the position that “Hamilton violated his treatment program and is subject to discipline by the commissioner.”

All that aside, the Angels remain on the hook for the remainder of the five-year, $125 million contract Hamilton signed ahead of the 2013 season, and that amounts to $83 million: $23 million this season and $30 million for both 2016 and 2017.

Despite the sympathy the team must feel for the hell endured by Hamilton — as is the case with any addict — that’s a lot of money tied up in a person who has tragically demonstrated he may not be able to sufficiently conquer his demons enough to legitimately pursue a professional baseball career.

It may be an unfortunate or untoward way to view the situation — although Hamilton deserves nothing but sympathy on a personal level. Not only that, the ballplayer arguably deserved better than the manner in which the story evolved regarding his relapse (FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal penned an enlightening piece to that effect). Business is nevertheless business, although it’s important to remember that the team did indicate it would do “everything possible” to assist Hamilton in this difficult time.

It’s certainly arguable that the issuing of such a statement, no matter how carefully crafted, shows poor form. But how the Angels conduct themselves going forward will determine if the organization is viewed as understandably cautious or insultingly and egregiously callous in its handling of the situation.

It’s just a heartbreaking story, no matter which angle one chooses to take.