MLB Week in Review (April 24-30)

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The MLB season started with some controversy as Josh Hamilton had been acquitted of any punishment after violating the league’s drug abuse policy.

It was not the first time that Hamilton had been caught abusing drugs as the former addict has been through multiple relapse episodes.

Unlike most people who struggle with addiction all of this has played out in a very public forum.

Throughout his struggles with addiction he was always helped by those who surrounded him and nowhere was this truer than when he played for the Texas Rangers.

After all it was the Rangers who gave him a chance after he had failed his first time around thanks to his addiction.

When he was traded to the Rangers after the Cincinnati Reds picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft in 2008, everything seemed to turn around.

While with the Rangers, Hamilton became one of the most feared hitters in baseball. He was named to the AL All-Star team every year from 2008 to 2012 while also winning the AL batting title and MVP in 2010.

He had risen from the issues of addiction and proven to be a story of hope for so many. It wasn’t completely smooth though as he had very public relapses in 2009 and 2012 but he seemed to fight through all of the controversy and the struggles of addiction to remain a great hitter.

After the 2012 season Hamilton left the comfort of what had become his home in Texas for Los Angeles signing a 5-year deal with the Angels.

The move was one that caused plenty of concern regarding Hamilton and his sobriety. Moving away from the support system and the team that had stood by him through all of the relapses that he suffered was a massive risk and especially when that change puts him in a place known for excess.

Living around Los Angeles is a tough thing for any addict especially when he struggles to meet the expectations.

Hamilton did not meet expectations as his bat went cold and he was under more criticism than usual.

As many had predicted he struggled with his sobriety for another time in February of this year.

This time he was not exposed by photos or rumours but instead decided to voluntarily admit to the league that he had used drugs.

That act saved Hamilton’s season as the MLB and MLBPA could not agree on what the punishment should be leaving an arbitrator to decide that he would face no punishment for the relapse because he had told the MLB.

The non-suspension was a controversial decision but what was even more controversial was the decision of the Angels to speak out against the decision made by the arbitrator.

The Angels organization seemed to be the opposite of the Rangers as they criticized the arbitrator for letting Hamilton get away with his drug use. They also said that they were disappointed in Hamilton for his actions.

The tone of the statement by the Angels seemed like one that was distancing themselves from the player and that turned out to be exactly what they were doing.

This week the Angels traded Hamilton back to the Rangers in what can only be described as a failure of an organization to care for their player.

They may not have agreed with the arbitrator’s decision and been disappointed with Hamilton’s actions but to throw him aside as they did is a disappointing thing.

Hamilton’s drug use cannot be brushed aside but helping him into rehab again and giving him support to try to deal with his latest issues rather than just tossing him aside.

They knew the player they had signed, especially since they signed him after a relapse in 2012, and yet they seemed unwilling to help a struggling addict. Now he returns to the place where he was at his best and an organization that seems more willing to treat him like human being and give him the support he needs.

Whether that is the missing part for Hamilton remains to be seen as his power has disappeared since he left Texas.

If he returns and gets the support he needs from the organization that may very well give him the comfort he needs to get back to his power hitting ways.

At the very least he gets the support he needs to stay sober and have a decent career while he can become a beacon for recovering addicts everywhere.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Eerie scene at Camden Yards
With riots breaking out in Baltimore the MLB was forced to hold a game without fans as the Baltimore Orioles hosted the Chicago White Sox in an almost empty, some MLB team personnel including scouts were allowed, Camden Yards

Tanaka Back on the DL
Masahiro Tanaka came into the MLB in 2014 with massive hype and when he is on the field he can meet that hype but staying on the field has been a challenge as an injury ended his rookie year and this year is in danger as he once again finds himself on the DL

The DH Discussion
In an interview earlier in the week Max Scherzer said that he was open to adding a Designated Hitter to the National League and it launched the usual debate over watching designated hitters over pitchers and the value of a player who only bats


Key Series:
New York Yankees 2 – 1 New York Mets
– The subway series got underway and this time the Mets were the team to beat coming in on a hot streak but that ended in the first game as the Mets put up a fight but couldn’t beat their cross-city rivals in their first meeting this year

Miami Marlins 3 – 0 Washington Nationals
– The Nationals were supposed to be the team to beat in the East but so far this year they have been the team that everyone beats including the Marlins who are not having the greatest year and yet still swept the Nats

Baltimore Orioles 1 – 0 Chicago White Sox
– It was a strange series that was to go three games but only went one as Baltimore was put into a state of emergency after protests turned violent and that one game that was taken by the O’s was played in front of an empty stadium

Los Angeles Angels 2 – 1 Oakland Athletics
– The Angels and A’s may very well be the ones fighting for a postseason spot this year in the West but for now they were just looking to stay alive with the A’s falling to the Angels who moved up the division standings

Upcoming Series:
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals [May 1/2/3]
– These two teams were beginning to put together a real rivalry as the Pirates had begun to find themselves fighting for the Central but the Cards remained strong while the Pirates have fallen off as they look to get back to it against the Cards this time around

Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals [May 1/2/3]
– The Royals have proven to be a team to beat so far this year in the Central but the Tigers won’t back down without a fight in the division that they have ruled for years and hope to continue ruling when this season is done

San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants [May 4/5/6]
– The Padres and Giants are headed in different directions right now as the usually solid Giants are in the basement while the Padres are climbing the division as they try to keep tit going against last year’s champs

Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals [May 4/5/6/7]
– The Cubs are showing that their changes are working, at least for now, but they will need to fight it out with the always steady Cardinals if they want to stay their all season as they look for an early four game advantage on their division rivals

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