MLB Week in Review (April 4-9)

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The new MLB season is finally here after a month of great weather and great baseball in Arizona and Florida for Spring Training.

Now it gets real though as the players have made the team and every game becomes more important.

With every team looking to get a good start to the year their best players are getting the chance to make their impact early and often.

For one team one of their best players is getting that shot to make an impact but is doing it under plenty of scrutiny after a decision just before the season put him back on the field.

The struggles that have followed Josh Hamilton throughout his career in the MLB. He was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays and began to rise quickly through the ranks.

Then in 2001 he began hanging around a tattoo parlour where he got into drugs and alcohol until it eventually began affecting his career.

By 2003 he had failed multiple drug tests and was unreliable leading to his career being cut short.

In 2005 he got clean and in 2006 was taken in the Rule 5 Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.

After only one year on the Reds he moved to Texas where he became one of the best power hitters in the MLB.

His story has remained an inspiration for so many but it has not been without its struggles. A publicized relapse in 2009 but handled it properly in telling his family, the league, and the Rangers who all supported him and helped him through the issues.

When he left Texas for Los Angeles there were plenty who worried about the change in scenery and what effect it was going to have on his sobriety.

That question seemed to be answered quickly when only months after signing a new contract he had relapsed when he had “two or three” drinks.

It was not as serious a relapse but it still left many concerned about whether he was going to be able to handle the move to Los Angeles.

baseball-sidebarThis off-season the struggles continued for Hamilton as he reportedly relapsed using alcohol and cocaine and once again he had fallen to the challenge of staying sober.

This time though, there was expected to be little leniency on the part of the league as he had admitted to violating the league’s substance abuse policy and was likely to see a suspension.

After the league and the MLBPA could not come up with a decision an arbitrator stepped in to make a shocking decision.

Hamilton would not receive any suspension or punishment even after admitting to the violations to MLB code.

It wasn’t that people wanted Hamilton to be punished for struggling with his sobriety but to not punish someone for violating a clear policy sends the wrong message across the league.

As shocking as the decision as there was a much more shocking result of the decision and that was the reaction of the Angels.

In a statement released by the team they expressed that they had “serious concerns” about Hamilton’s “conduct, health, and behavior.”

It was a statement that seemed to be his team abandoning him at a time when he needs all of the support that he can get.

The decision not to discipline Hamilton may not be the right decision but as the team that he plays for there has to be some support.

The statement read like they were not fully behind their hard hitter outfielder and almost that they were distancing themselves in case of another issue.

It is not what people want to see when it comes to a player having issues and it is definitely not something that Hamilton wants to hear.

As Hamilton tries to return from shoulder surgery his future in Los Angeles may be in question, if not by the team than surely by Hamilton who may not feel all too welcome in the Angels.

It was a poorly handled situation by the organization and just the first in what is sure to be a long line of storylines this year as the new season is here and controversy is already springing up.

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Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Bad Start in Miami
The Miami Marlins built a brand new park in 2012 and predictably put a retractable roof in to deal with the rain storms that can hound the area but that roof did not stop a rain delay in the first week when the Marlins did not close the roof leading to a rain delay in their first game

Early Movement
It took only Spring Training for teams to look to improve their roster as the Atlanta Braves traded Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres for a package of four players before any regular season games were played

Wrigley Woes
The Chicago Cubs have gone through a massive rebuild both on the field and to the field but the field renovations have fallen short with seats being covered and bathrooms left unfinished leading to massive lineups and the purchase of port-o-potty’s as the rebuild moves on

Pace of Game Concerns
One of the major goals of new commissioner Rob Manfred has been to speed up the game and already the quest is on as new rules have been passed, although relatively un-effective, and warnings being sent to those players who are known to take their time

Key Series Results:
St. Louis Cardinals 1 – 1 Chicago Cubs
– The Cubs opened up one of the more anticipated seasons at home to a partially renovated field and took one game in this two game series against one of the more consistent teams in the MLB to a decent start for the season

Colorado Rockies 3 – 0 Milwaukee Brewers
– The Rockies started off their season in the best way possible as they travelled to Milwaukee and swept the Brewers to rise to the top of the West and provide some confidence in what could be a surprising season

New York Mets 2 – 1 Washington Nationals
– The Mets are a team that has plenty of questions heading into the season but they began their year with a good start taking two games from Washington including a 6-3 win by Matt Harvey who returned for his first game since Tommy John surgery in 2014

Chicago White Sox 0 – 3 Kansas City Royals
– The White Sox and Royals are two teams with plenty to prove as they start a new season and the Royals took the first step in a sweep of the Sox as they began a season where they try to prove they are more than a fluke

Upcoming Series:
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees [April 10/11/12]
– The rivalry continues as the Red Sox and Yankees square off in a weekend series where they are both trying to prove that they have not fallen off as many believe with both teams looking to gain an early advantage in the season series

Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers [April 10/11/12]
– The battle of Texas gets underway again as the slowly rebuilding Astros look to take an early advantage in the division against the Rangers who are still trying to figure out what type of teams they are

Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants [April 13/14/15]
– The Rockies are in an unfamiliar position sitting atop the NL West but they face their first true test as they travel to San Francisco to take on the defending champions and see where they stand against one of the top teams in the league

Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals [April 13/15/16]
– It is a rivalry built mainly on beer as two cities known as major hubs for Miller and Budweiser face off in what has often been an uneven affair with the Cardinals looking to prove that they are still the superior team and the Brewers trying to gain some respect in the division

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