Not that any of that stuff is going away, mind you ... I just wanted to add something to the mix.
So, I'm breaking out the first regular TGWNA staple: "The Stupidest Thing I've Heard All Day," which will be essentially a short-form (who am I kidding? "Run-on" form is more like it) criticism of something dumb that I've either heard or read that day. If it's a slow news day, I may dig in the archives, but with baseball back in full swing, there should be no shortage of moronic, uninformed quotes floating around the interweb for me to take my rudderless frustration on.
If you have read or heard something dumb that you would like the Diesel to comment on, feel free to drop me an e-mail at email@example.com. Name and town, please, if you wish to make it on the air.
Brent S. (fjm): what are your thoughts on josh hamiltons comeback story?
SportsNation" height="11" width="24"> Joe Morgan: I think it's great that a guy can straighten his life out and try to move forward. I'm not sure baseball is the right place for that. My first thought is that he's been out of the game for three years, due to substance abuse and I worry because there were so many other players in the minor leagues at the time trying to make the big leagues and doing all the right things and he has jumped over them. No matter what we say, he's taken someone's place who was trying to get to the big leagues. I always pull for guys trying to get their lives straight, but playing in the big leagues is a privilege, not a right. As happy as I am for him, I feel bad for some player that is in the minors and doing all the right things and not get a chance in the big leagues.
SportsNation" height="11" width="24"> Joe Morgan: All that said, let's hope that he can keep his life together this time.
SportsNation" height="11" width="24"> Joe Morgan: Baseball has had some disappointments from players in the past that its given several chances to and it hasn't panned. Maybe he should have started in AAA to prove he deserved to be in the big leagues.
It's worth noting that this is a question from an FJM fan, so it's clearly meant to induce Joe into saying something dumb, like we can't talk about Josh Hamilton because he hasn't won a World Series yet. But that's irrelevant, because Joe says dumb things all the time without provocation.
What is relevant is that this response brought into relief what it was about all the Josh Hamilton hand-wringing that bothered me this spring, beyond simple overexposure. Everyone who wrote about this guy seemed to do so while wincing (get it?!?); it's like they understood the attractive (if not cliché) angle here was redemption, but what they really wanted to say was, "I hope he fails because he did drugs and wasted his talent and I wish I would have had the talent because I really love baseball and would never have wasted it like him." I think this concept of, "What I wouldn't do for ..." is a big part of the motivation for those around baseball, whether it be people in the administration, sportswriters, bloggers or casual fans. Baseball is the one game we could all see ourselves, in some way, playing, and that's why we love it so much. When someone like Hamilton comes around, the rest of us are perplexed. Why would he ruin his shot to be the best baseball player alive? It's like kicking Charlize Theron out of bed after stalking her for six months and finally getting her to agree to a date. But what those people never seem to understand is that no one can stalk Theron and actually convince her to go out on a date, not to mention bed her afterward. You're either born with the goods to get in them drahs, or you ain't. That the rest of us aren't is, I suppose, the inherent unfairness of nature, and means we're probably going to have to bust our ass for every piece of trim we get.
Josh Hamilton, in truth, never had to work for his talent. There's never been more definitive proof of this than Spring Training 2007, when he came back after three years of playing essentially no baseball and started beating the living shit out of AAAA pitching. When the laptops opened up everyday, I think most sportswriters felt like they had an angel/devil dichotomy; the story they wanted to write was that Hamilton's success made it all the more galling that he ever started with the drugs in the first place, but the story they eventually wrote was how nice it was to see this heavily tattooed man play the game he loves again under bright blue skies and the sounds of spring. Mercifully, most of the hacks who took aim at this story weren't good enough craftsmen to compel us to go more than three paragraphs with this tripe. But the undercurrent was enough to unsettle even the most obtuse of readers; you could tell that deep-down, they wanted this guy to continue being punished for turning his back on what every single on of them would kill to have.
So, I at least respect Joe for coming out and saying it. But that doesn't mean it isn't, still, total horseshit.
Bottom line, folks (and I'm looking at you, Emmy-award winning fuckstick): Sports are not fair. Stop pretending they are. Stop acting like there's a single manager in the country who would rather have Eckstein than Jeter, Tejada, Ramirez or Rollins. Scrap makes for great, clichéd stories, but talent is what wins ballgames. Josh Hamilton, astonishingly, has enough talent that he's still good enough to make a major league roster after spending three years out of baseball and even longer than that hooked on dope. Whatever Reds farmhand got denied a spot on the 25-man roster because of Hamilton -- maybe even a stud like Joey Votto -- got denied it because the prospect of losing Hamilton to the Devil Rays had more downside than leaving a prospect in the minors until the inevitable Scott Hatteberg injury prompts a call-up. If any of those prospects, Joe, were a better option for the team, Hamilton would be back in Durham right now. So stop it with the "doing the right things" crap; they obviously weren't doing enough of the most important thing, which is being better at baseball than Josh Hamilton is.
Also, do some fucking research: The Reds would have lost Hamilton if they didn't keep him on the major league roster. Aren't you supposed to be a baseball expert?