Don’t Suspend Josh Hamilton, Support Him [commentary]

BreakingModern — Pain. Suffering. Frustration. Helplessness. This is what Josh Hamilton must have felt before, during and after his recent relapse involving cocaine and alcohol. The embattled Los Angeles Angels outfielder had overcome addiction problems in the past, winning the 2010 AL MVP for Texas and earning a massive five-year, $125-million contract with the team. Hamilton will be suspended at least 25 games by the MLB for his relapse.

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


First and foremost, Hamilton was forthcoming about his relapse. He met directly with MLB officials in New York City to report his use and never failed a drug test. As a repeat offender, Hamilton is subject to three drug tests per week, as stipulated in his reinstatement to Major League Baseball many years ago.

Throughout this ordeal Hamilton went out of his way to seek help for his problems, taking the high road instead of hiding, which he would probably have gotten away with because he never tested positive for drug use. Hamilton’s honesty throughout this process has set an example for recovering addicts everywhere, but the MLB has still decided to suspend him.

Really? That’s a slap in the face. Addicts should be allowed (and encouraged, really) to come forward about their relapses, rather than being repressed and then suspended.

This Isn’t Steroids

Despite Hamilton’s unique history and his emotional struggle, baseball is punishing him in the same fashion as they would a steroid user. Steroid users and drug addicts are cut from a different cloth — juicers destroy the integrity of the game, while addicts are helpless to fix their endless cycle of struggles. I am in no way condoning the use of illicit drugs like cocaine, as they can destroy lives, but Hamilton should not be suspended like any other juicer – he should be treated like a patient and given a chance for real recovery.

Even those who haven’t been addicts or don’t know one personally are aware of the life-altering effects of addiction. Use of the substance is almost entirely out of the control of the addict, who is left powerless to combat their suffering without outside help.

Rehab is what Hamilton needs, not a suspension.

Sure, Hamilton shouldn’t be playing baseball while he is having intense withdrawals, but that doesn’t mean he needs to be suspended. Structure is key to the rehabilitation process, and baseball’s daily grind provides a sense of stability and order for people seeking help like Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Cocaine and alcohol are not performance-enhancing substances, either. Rather, they detract considerably from one’s ability on the field. Hamilton has a disease and should be treated with compassion and understanding, not punished like those trying to cheat the system. Living everyday life as an addict is punishment enough.

This is not to say that Hamilton should be let off without any sort of action, but rather that, at this point, a suspension will really do nothing to help reform his ways. Rehabilitation and quick reinstatement should be the goal, if the MLB truly cares about its players and setting a good example for those inside and out of the league. I am rooting for Hamilton throughout his struggles, and I hope the MLB genuinely cares about his journey to recovery.

For BMod, I’m .

Ben Leonard

Author: Ben Leonard

Based in San Francisco, Ben Leonard covers sports for BreakingModern. Follow him on Twitter @ben___leonard

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